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Interview: Kosovar Premier Discusses Free Trade, Integration Of Minorities


http://gdb.rferl.org/A5355F36-F3BF-40F6-8D2C-EE0C38FD9A5F_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/A5355F36-F3BF-40F6-8D2C-EE0C38FD9A5F_mw800_mh600.jpg Agim Ceku (file photo) (epa) On 6 April, Iliriana Bajo of the Kosovo subunit of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service interviewed Kosovar Prime Minister Agim Ceku in Bucharest following a meeting of the Central European Free Trade Agreement.

RFE/RL: Mr. Prime Minister, the Southeastern Europe summit for the creation of a single free-trade area that was held in Bucharest, Romania, ended today. Will Kosova be included in this agreement with the same status as the other internationally recognized states?

Agim Ceku: Yes. Today, we represented Kosova in a meeting attended by all prime ministers of Southeastern Europe. I gave a presentation during the meeting. The aim was for Kosova to be positioned as a place in Europe, as an integral part of Southeastern Europe, and we will be part of the agreement for the Central European Free Trade Agreement, as it was called today. At the end, this was a step forward and more concrete in Kosova's positioning in the region. The declarations we signed at this summit made Kosova an equal member of Europe. On the other hand, free trade is very important as far as it concerns integration and economic development, because it develops competition, quality, and creates jobs.

RFE/RL: Mr. Prime Minister, it is said that the future of Kosova's Serbs is one of the key points in the process for the status definition. Your government has spoken for integrative approaches, but what are the tools you will use to make the northern part an integral part of Kosova, keeping in mind that neither the UNMIK [UN Mission in Kosovo], nor the government, have real control of this area?

Ceku: Northern Kosova is one of the greatest challenges in the process of Kosova's status-definition talks. We have to admit that despite the serious number of initiatives, very little has been done for the integration of minorities. The UNMIK, being responsible for this integration, has had a very soft approach towards the parallel structures of the north, due to the fear of Serbs leaving Kosova.

On the other hand, in recent years the international community has held back the government from having a more active approach toward this issue. The truth is that because of these stances, we have the current situation, which represents a big challenge.

Nevertheless, I am convinced that Kosova's northern issue will be resolved with the status of Kosova. I am convinced that there will be no partition of Kosova, as is the international community's decision. As its status is defined, Kosova's government, through a democratic approach based on international laws, will show to Kosova's Serbs that their place is in Kosova and they will have to understand that the only way to live here is to be integrated in Kosova's institutions.

RFE/RL: The declarations of international negotiators in the Vienna meetings have created the idea that a decentralization plan, in case of a lack of compromise, could be imposed by the [UN] Security Council, as part of a status definition. What are the steps your government is taking to prevent the threats to Kosova's integrity?

Ceku: In fact, the so-called decentralization for us is a reform of the local government, which is a project our institutions have prepared based on the European convention for local governments. Our approach is based on European principals, which aim to bring the institutions closer to the citizens. This approach is neutral as far as concerns the minorities, in the sense that the citizen is in its foundations. Our offer is acceptable for the international community. Belgrade has a totally different approach, which is in contradiction with the international conventions for local governments, and as such it is unacceptable. Whatever we do is based on principals and in accordance with international laws, and we will continue in this way.
RFE/RL Balkan Report


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