13.04.2000Kosovo Albanian leader Thaci criticizes Serbian opposition
Kosovo Albanian leader Hashim Thaci has said that achieving Kosovo's independence is more important and more urgent than the democratization of Serbia, Kosovapress news agency reported.
He said that it would take a long time for Serbia to achieve democracy, because its opposition was disorganized and "unfortunately, it has the same approach to Kosovo as the Milosevic regime". The following is the text of a report by Kosovo Albanian Kosovapress news agency:
PRISHTINA - In connection with the two-day conference "Albanians and their neighbours", organized by the US institute for interethnic relations and held in Budapest, the co-chairman of the Interim Administrative Council and chairman of the Party for the Democratic Progress of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, told reporters at his party headquarters: "The meeting was of great importance because it was the first meeting organized since the war, between Albanians and Serbs and representatives of neighbouring countries and of the international community on the subject of `Albanians and their neighbours', in which there was a discussion of Kosovo and of Albanians, in general, and their prospects for the future.
"The position of Albanians with regard to the political status of Kosovo is very clear. We support the position that the people of Kosovo are determined to gain independence but, in order to achieve this, we must work much harder to construct the mechanisms for the realization of this right of the people of Kosovo - the building of democratic institutions.
The Kosovo Albanian leaders must respect this right and they will respect it even after any international pressure that might result, at the time when the final status of Kosovo must be discussed.
"As representatives of Kosovo, we will welcome any democratic change in Serbia, but the Kosovo independence process must not and dare not fall prey to the Serbian democratic process, because the Kosovo independence process is more rapid and more important than the democratization of Serbia. Also, the representatives of Kosovo and the representatives of the neighbouring countries reached the conclusion that the democratization process in Serbia must pass through several phases, which will be very important and which will not take place rapidly. The phase of the destruction of the (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic regime will not be easy. The transitional phase after the destruction of the Milosevic regime will also be very difficult for the citizens of Serbia. Therefore, time is needed before moving on to the internal democratization of Serbia.
"During this meeting there was also a discussion of the position of the Serbian opposition regarding Kosovo and the Albanian question, in general. The conclusion was clear that the Serbian opposition is not organized and, that, unfortunately, it has the same approach to Kosovo as the Milosevic regime."
Thaci added: "During the conference, we stressed that the independence of Kosovo presents no danger for the neighbouring countries. The representatives of Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro said the same thing. Also, a part of the international community said that it would respect the will of the citizens of Kosovo.
We expressed our determination to achieve intra-Albanian integration in a united Europe. We also expressed the view that Kosovo cannot be stable in an unstable region. We will work together for the democratization of the entire region."
In this framework, Thaci mentioned his meeting with Croatian President Stipe Mesic. "These phases will not be short, but will be accompanied by great difficulties for the entire region," he said, among other things.