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South Slavic: September 5, 2003

5 September 2003, Volume 5, Number 28


An interview by Gezim Baxhaku of RFE/RL with Ramush Tahiri, the political advisor to Nexhat Daci, the speaker of Kosova's parliament.

RFE/RL: Mr. Tahiri, has the latest violence in Kosova justified calls for a new approach to the province's affairs (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13 and 20 June, and 1, 15, and 22 August 2003)?

Ramush Tahiri: I do not see any particular reason for any new approach, simply because the long-standing approach of the international community for the Kosova issue consists of working with the transitional administration (UNMIK), setting up democratic institutions, and eventually resolving the final status of Kosova. The status of Kosova will probably be decided according to the will of the citizens of Kosova.

RFE/RL:Some political analysts in Kosova consider the latest rhetoric from Belgrade to be the staking out of a position prior to any talks (see "RFE/RL South Slavic Report," 28 August 2003). What do you think?

Tahiri: I think that the present political establishment in Belgrade is not interested in starting a dialogue with Kosova because Kosova is going to win, not Belgrade, when any of the so-called practical questions come up for review. All those issues are aimed at improving the life of the citizens of Kosova.

The point is that by recognizing UNMIK documents, returning pension-funds [paid by Kosovars], and handing back landownership records, etc., Belgrade would essentially be acknowledging Kosova as a partner. But the final status of the province will have to be resolved by the international community, since the Serbs and Kosovars have failed to do so in the past.

RFE/RL: Kosovar officials have been reproached for not attending the funeral of the two young men from Gorazhdevc, and there has been speculation as to why they did not do so. What was the main reason for the Kosovar leaders not to go to the funeral?

Tahiri: There have been many terrorist acts in Kosova lately. Two Albanian children were killed in Peja a few days ago in a shooting incident. After that, those two Serbian youths were killed.

Terrorists do not care about human losses and the nationality of their victims. All the political structures and all the institutions of Kosova have condemned that hideous terrorist act in Gorazhdevc.

However, the issue of the presence of Albanian politicians at the funeral was a security issue, as well as a result of the atmosphere created by Serbian media that attributed this act of terrorism to Kosova's institutions. All the institutions of Kosova were pilloried, and the resulting atmosphere did not permit the officials to attend the funerals of those youths.

RFE/RL: The institutions of Kosova are ready to talk with Belgrade about some practical issues. Is there a consensus among them about the precise topics that can and should be negotiated with Belgrade?

Tahiri: We are ready to talk about all the issues raised by both the Serbian and Kosovar sides. There is a general consensus, and the talks will be held on a governmental level. There is no need for the Kosovar side to adopt a platform, since there are already programs from the government and the ministries that focus on concrete questions.

At issue is not the status of Kosova but only some practical, technical questions. We are now expecting an invitation for the talks by an international mediator. The meeting will probably be held in September or October. We are ready to go, probably to Brussels, where the talks are supposed to take place.

RFE/RL: Nexhat Daci, the speaker of the parliament, said after meeting with the new head of UNMIK, Harri Holkeri, that Mr. Holkeri will be the last international administrator of Kosova. Do you think that the necessary conditions will be met during Mr. Holkeri's mandate to resolve the status question?

Ramush Tahiri: I think that these five years of international administration in Kosova [since 1999] have been enough, since, after all, this is a European country and this administration was not established in opposition to the people of Kosova -- or the institutions that exist in Kosova -- but in opposition to the Serbian regime that was imposed on Kosova [by former Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic].

I think that by [the end of Holkeri's mandate], Kosova's democratic institutions will be stronger, and some standards will have been attained.

Success has been achieved and more is on the cards. We have elections, institutions, monitoring, and laws adopted according to European standards. I simply cannot see any single reason why the international administration will not acknowledge its own success and devolve power to Kosova's institutions.