Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Future Status of Kosovο: The view from Prishtina

note: "ELIAMEP" is mention by S. Marko as organiser of e public discuss in Albania

Athens 15 November 2006

ELIAMEP invitation

The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) organized a lecture on:

The Future Status of Kosovο:

The view from Prishtina

Speaker: HE Mr Agim Çeku, Prime Minister of the Provisional Institutions of the Self Government of Kosovo

ÇekuThe lecture was held in English, on Wednesday 15 November at 18:30, at the Grande Bretagne hotel (Royal Room).

Mr. Çeku's Speech

I'm very pleased to be here today. Greece is the leading European power in our part of the world, and an influential voice in decisions about it. I want to hear your ideas and opinions, so I shall be brief. I want to describe the work that we have done in Kosovo, with the international community, to build a multi-ethnic Kosovo. And I want to give you a picture of our future. To explain that independence is the only workable solution for Kosovo. To explain how an independent Kosovo will be a positive force. I am here in Athens to explain our position, and to ask for the support of Greece in finally solving the problems of this region.

We are in the last kilometre of a marathon, something that Athens will understand, of course. Some people are getting tired, some people are not sure if we can finish. But now is the time for one final, extra effort. We have the opportunity, now, to build a lasting peace. Kosovo is ready. That's why we believe that the time is right for status to be decided. The EU, and the UN, and the OSCE, and my government, and the people of Kosovo,we have all worked to build a Kosovo that is ready. A Kosovo that works. I head a multi-ethnic coalition government. I answer to a multi-ethnic, multi-party Assembly, chosen in free elections. In recent years the government has taken on more responsibility from UNMIK. This year we have established Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs. We have our own police service, one that reflects the balance of our people.

In fact, there is a higher percentage of Serbs in the police force than in the population. We have the proper institutions of a free society, a judiciary, an ombudsman, a lively and independent media. Kosovo looks like a working state. Kosovo, in practice, is a working state. I emphasised multi-ethnic. Let me be clear. The Kosovo that I want, the Kosovo that I am arguing for, the Kosovo that exists, is not just an Albanian Kosovo. It is a Serb Kosovo, and a Gorani Kosovo, and an Ashkali Kosovo, a free Kosovo for all of our citizens. We are not just promising a multi-ethnic Kosovo. We are guaranteeing a multi-ethnic Kosovo, with structures and rules that protect and promote the position of our minorities. We have already implemented most of the international Standards, that shows that we match European principles. This issue is also at the heart of our negotiations with President Ahtisaari. This is a package to guarantee the shape of Kosovo. A package that will reassure all of our citizens that they have a home in Kosovo, a future in Kosovo.

Under our proposals to President Ahtisaari, 82% of Kosovo's Serbs will live in municipalities where they are a majority. Our decentralisation proposals - we call it asymmetric decentralisation - give them special rights over their own education, and policing, and healthcare, and administration. These issues - independence, multi-ethnicity - they are not idealism, although I believe strongly in both of them. They are practical questions which are essential for stability. I want Kosovo to work, to function, because I want Kosovo and this region to have long-term stability. A Kosovo that is not practical will not last. And if Kosovo's status remains uncertain, it slows down the region. A working, stable Kosovo cannot exclude the rights and participation of all citizens. A working, stable Kosovo cannot be based on an impossible relationship with Belgrade, cannot be based on an attempt to turn the clock back. A working, stable Kosovo cannot overlook the wishes of the great majority of the people of Kosovo (and let's remember that Montenegro has just won independence with only a 55% vote). This is why we seek independence.

It is the best way, the only way, to end the oppression and the tension and the uncertainty. It is the only way to get the investment that we need. It is the only way to give the people of Kosovo, all of them, the clarity to start to build for the future, in a normal state. Independence is the only way to guarantee stability. Independence is stability. But we must be realistic, and we must recognise the damage that is being done by the current lack of clarity. No-one benefits from the current situation. Our people do not know what state they are in; they do not have a voice in the world; they do not know where their future is.

Uncertainty is increasing worry and increasing tension. To delay is to delay investment and to delay security. Delay helps no-one, least of all Kosovo's Serbs. We ask for Kosovo to be treated as a unique case on its own merits, and we believe that a logical assessment of this case will lead to the right answer. We urge status quickly, because our people must be given their voice in the world and the chance to move forwards. We urge independence, because it is the solution that will bring stability.

I believe this is true for our region as well. Our first challenges will of course be internal. Reconciliation and integration will take time and effort. We have to work to stabilise our economy, and then to develop our economic potential: we have our lignite reserves and we have our young and dynamic population, with a population growth rate that will be important for the EU's attempt to sustain its growing economy.

Privatisation is already happening: at the moment we are tendering the biggest energy project in the region, and opening our telecom market to foreign investment. Our banking sector is privatised and free to foreign investors, as is the food industry. Kosovo?s potential is also in trade.

We are in an important position in the region and in Europe. We are already building the regional relationships to develop this. This is a crucial point, and this is why I talked about the regional benefit of Kosovo independence. My vision of Kosovo is as a partner in this region and in the wider Europe. The status of Kosovo does not cause new problems - it solves, at last, the old problems. We want to build a working, sustainable relationship with Serbia, as with all of our neighbours.

Kosovo is a necessary part of a functioning network of economy and security in south-eastern Europe. Our status is now a big obstacle and a big opportunity in the region's path towards Europe. Finish the puzzle, and you unlock the potential of this region: for political stability; for dynamic trade between the Aegean and the rest of the continent; for European progress. Kosovo will only do well in partnership with our neighbours in the region. And the region will only do well with a final and stable status for Kosovo.

The President of ELIAMEP asked me to give the view from Prishtina on the future status of Kosovo. Well, let me give you all my view, my vision, of the future Kosovo. Kosovo will be a clearly-defined, stable, working independent state. Kosovo will be a multi-ethnic state, with all of our institutions reflecting our diversity.

With investment from strategic partners, Kosovo will first stabilize its economy and energy situation, and then develop the export potential of its energy, its agriculture and its growing labour force. Political stability and economic stability will help bring the communities of Kosovo closer together. Kosovo will have the strong relationships that it should have with its neighbours. Kosovo will work.

Let me also offer a vision for our region. An end to disagreements over borders and the struggles of minorities; the beginning of a mature co-operation between recognized states. An end to the economic stagnation; the beginning of the realization of the potential of this resource-rich, strategically-placed part of the world. An end to antipathy; the beginning of partnership. An end to Ottoman chaos; the beginning of European collaboration. At Thessaloniki in 2003, Greece, the cradle of European civilization, led the EU in offering a European future to the western Balkans, recently escaped from barbarism. This remains an inspiration for us, as it does for our neighbours. We need hard work now to sustain it, in the face of new doubts. I ask Greece today, please maintain your role as the inspiration and the mentor for our region. Help us finally achieve stability. Work with us to develop our economy. Show us the way towards Europe. By doing so, you will give the whole region a future.

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