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South Slavic: January 30, 2003

30 January 2003, Volume 5, Number 2


Part II.

A recent program of RFE/RL's Radio Most (Bridge) by Omer Karabeg with Bosko Ristic, one of the co-chairmen of the Constitutional Commission that has worked on the text of the Constitutional Charter for the new state of Serbia and Montenegro, and Ramush Tahiri, political advisor to the speaker of the Kosovar parliament, Nexhat Daci.

Bosko Ristic: Let me remind you, Mr. Tahiri, that the Belgrade agreement was signed by Mr. Javier Solana, the EU's high representative, who insisted on such a solution. Mr. Solana must be familiar with Resolution 1244, and everything he was doing must have been coordinated with those in the international community who wanted Kosovo and Metohija to be under a UN administration.

Ramush Tahiri: I do not believe the international community is behind the provision that Kosova is a part of Serbia. The international community is behind the Constitutional Charter in its entirety, not behind every single position included in it.

We have no particular problems about [the parliament of Kosova] adopting a resolution rejecting the part of the preamble referring to Kosova. For us, the Constitutional Charter and its preamble are documents of another state.

Ristic: The resolution was adopted by just a part of the parliament of Kosovo and Metohija, since Serbian deputies did not take part in the parliamentary session at which the document was adopted. The resolution is not valid since it was annulled [by Michael Steiner].

Tahiri: Mr. Ristic, the parliament of Kosova adopted a resolution according to the regulations in force. The fact that Serbian deputies were not present does not affect the validity of the resolution....

Ristic: The parliament of Kosovo and Metohija has limited authority. It is not the parliament of a state....

There are decisions that the parliament simply cannot make, first of all those concerning the political status [of Kosovo]. The international community is empowered to annul every measure of that sort that the parliament passes.

I find it politically wrong to make decisions that are non-starters from a legal point of view. On the other hand, the Constitutional Charter will be adopted by three internationally recognized parliaments: those of Serbia, Montenegro, and Yugoslavia.

Tahiri: I have in front of me the Constitutional Framework for the Interim Self-Government of Kosova. It would take a lot of time to list all the prerogatives of the parliament of Kosova.

I might also ask Mr. Ristic why the parliament of Serbia last year adopted a declaration about the situation in Kosova, in which it rejected the Constitutional Framework for Self-Government of Kosova, and thereby exceeded its authority.

RFE/RL: Mr. Ristic has spoken about the Serbian readiness to start an official dialogue. Mr. Tahiri, might a dialogue between politicians from Serbia and Albanian politicians from Kosovo resolve the issue of the status of Kosovo?

Tahiri: We want Kosova to talk with Serbia, not Albanians with Serbs. However, the predominant opinion in Kosova is that without the international community as a guarantor -- and I am talking about the United States of America in the first place -- nobody has the right to start any sort of a dialogue about the status of Kosova.

The point is that Serbia and Kosova cannot solve the issue on their own, with a dialogue, since they have totally opposite stands.

As far as I am concerned, I do not believe that the problem can be solved through a partition of Kosova or an exchange of territories, for example, by exchanging Kosovska Mitrovica for Presevo.

At the same time, I do not believe that the problem can be solved by setting up ethnically based enclaves. The population of Kosova is growing and needs space. Our ideal is not a state, but our national freedom and human rights.

Ristic: Mr. Tahiri, you have just said that the population of Kosovo is growing and that it needs room to expand.

Tahiri: I am not saying that we need territory and that we are going to spread out indefinitely...but we do need space to live. If approximately 3 million people live in Kosova and we have some 10,000 square kilometers of territory, it means we have some 300 people per square kilometer.

We do not have enough water to drink or space for development. We cannot limit our birthrate. We have a high birthrate and a very low death rate. Our present birthrate is some 30 per thousand inhabitants [each year], while our mortality rate is some five per thousand, which means that our [annual] population growth is some 25 per thousand....

Ristic: What you have just said is absolutely unacceptable. That is a historically obsolete theory about nations that are destined to spread and seek out new territories. That is a colonial approach for resolving problems internationally.

We must create conditions for the free flow of people and capital. If the point is that you do not have enough territory because of your high birthrate, then the only solution for you is birth control.

The same problem exists in China and Hong Kong, but the people of Hong Kong did not try to spread into other people's territory: they built high buildings instead. Try to explain your theory to the representatives of UNMIK or to the high representative of the EU -- and they will be disgusted.

Tahiri: Mr. Ristic, you do not seem to understand what I have just said. The people of Kosova do not need a state as a sort of a preserve. They need a Europe in which they can move about freely, not because of their population increase but because of communications.

Demographers know that birthrates are closely linked with levels of development. Vojvodina, the most developed part of Serbia, has a very low birthrate. Country people have more children than city people. If both parents are educated and employed, the family does not have many children. All those things affect the birthrate.

I do not believe that Albanians are bigger patriots than Serbs. I do not even think that Albanians can order their wives to have children, while Serbs cannot.

Ristic: I would rather go back to the issue of how we are going to discuss the status of Kosovo and Metohija. Let me tell you what I think. Serbia and Kosovo will not discuss it in the presence of international representatives, but Serbia and the citizens of Kosovo and Metohija are going to do it in the presence of the international community. For me, that is the only right way to do it.

Tahiri: Then why not have the citizens of Serbia and citizens of Kosova discuss it? I am talking about the reality we have in Kosova.

In Kosova we have had the structures of a state [in place] for three years now, and it will probably remain so for five more years, since UNMIK will certainly stay that long, regardless of whether or not some people are ready to admit it.

Ristic: ....The parliament of Kosovo and Metohija cannot negotiate the province's future because it has only limited powers and does not have the authority -- either according to Resolution 1244 or the Constitution of Serbia -- to make decisions concerning the status of that territory.

Tahiri: ....I do not believe that any other body than the parliament of Kosova will be authorized to negotiate the status of Kosova. There is the example of [Presidents] Ibrahim Rugova and Slobodan Milosevic. They discussed the issue as two citizens, and that had no effect whatsoever. Mr. Ristic certainly knows that the Serbian authorities did not talk with the representatives of the Presevo Valley as simple citizens, but as elected people with authority based in law.

RFE/RL: Obviously, there is no agreement here.

Ristic: There is no agreement about the status and interpretation of the authority of the institutions in Kosovo and Metohija. However, I think that we do agree to a certain extent about the situation regarding human rights in Kosovo and Metohija as well as about the need to build democratic institutions and have a dialogue.

Tahiri: I absolutely agree with you. We have opened a discussion on some topics and we did agree about some things.

Let me say in conclusion that neither Serbia nor Kosova have the authority to interpret Resolution 1244 [unilaterally], and they cannot decide which rights the institutions of Kosova do or do not have. The international community will decide that, sometimes against the will of Serbia and Kosova.