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South Slavic: May 4, 2000

4 May 2000, Volume 2, Number 17

The Future Status Of Kosovo. Part II.

In today's Radio Most (Bridge), we are going to discuss the future legal and political status of Kosovo. Our participants are Radoslav Stojanovic, professor of the Belgrade Faculty of Law, and Asim Bajrami, assistant professor of the Prishtina Faculty of Law. Part I appeared on 27 April.

Radoslav Stojanovic: But you must have a legal document that has become a constitution via a UN resolution or some other way and that establishes democratic ground rules for Kosovo.

Asim Bajrami: Mr. Stojanovic, do we agree that both the Rambouillet document and Resolution 1244 provide only a provisional solution?

Radoslav Stojanovic: Listen, subsection "a" of the Resolution says: "the constitution according to the Rambouillet document," and subsection "b" says: "the future status will be determined taking full account of the Rambouillet accord." Therefore, who denies that? I do not. What bothers me is what many claim, here and in Kosovo, that no one can impose anything on us. Excuse me, but they can. The United Nations is an organization whose Charter was signed by all countries. It is well known what happens when someone does not obey it.

Asim Bajrami: Yes, but these solutions are provisional, not the final ones. At the end of the Rambouillet accord, it is clearly said how the permanent solution is to be reached. Therefore, once the civil administration in Kosovo ends, the mechanism outlined in Rambouillet is to come into force.

Radoslav Stojanovic: You say that the solutions are provisional. Do you want me to quote some of those in charge who think that the "provisional" period will last 10 years? "Provisional" does not mean anything. First, peace must be established, then, once the peace is there, the refugees start coming back, democratic institutions are organized, and normal life begins in Kosovo. Only then can some sort of permanent solutions be addressed. Otherwise, we will never leave this state of confusion, or, if I may say so, this catastrophe.

Asim Bajrami: I think that we should stop searching for provisional solutions for Kosovo. All that needs to be done is to have the Resolution 1244 fully implemented. The international administrations should stabilize the situation in Kosovo, assist in the creation of democratic institutions, organize elections as soon as possible, and transfer the responsibility for the solution of the status of Kosovo to the institutions that emerge from the democratic elections. I think that after the elections, once the parliament and other state institutions of Kosovo are created, the question of the status of Kosovo should be addressed. All the citizens of Kosovo should be involved in that. We must co-operate with the international factors, but, in any case, the final solution must arise from a referendum.

Omer Karabeg: Mr. Stojanovic, do you agree that the status of Kosovo should be determined by a referendum?

Radoslav Stojanovic: I think that the status of Kosovo should be determined the way it is written in the international community's documents. One cannot keep talking about a referendum that is mentioned nowhere in Resolution 1244. It is wishful thinking. You, Mr. Bajrami, have the majority in Kosovo. You are 100 percent certain that you will win in the referendum and that is why you feel that the referendum should be held--and for you the problem is solved. But it is not so simple. This is why the international community has taken over the case.

Asim Bajrami: I do not think that the referendum will simply provide the Albanians with an electoral "machine."

Radoslav Stojanovic: What do you mean by "I do not think"? How many Serbs are there in Kosovo?

Asim Bajrami: The referendum expresses the genuine will of the citizens of Kosovo.

Radoslav Stojanovic: Yes, but you know a priori what will be the result.

Asim Bajrami: The result will be exactly the way Kosovo is.

Radoslav Stojanovic: You are right, but it is not so simple. If every province in every state has the right to secede, one can imagine what the results will be.

Asim Bajrami: There will be a referendum of the citizens of Kosovo, not of the Albanians.

Radoslav Stojanovic: According to that principle, every single province in every single state might organize a referendum. For example, if oil is found in some province, the citizens of the province will wish to own it all, so they organize a referendum.

Asim Bajrami: Mr. Stojanovic, the way you use the term "province" shows that you do not understand the reality of Kosovo. The standards you have just mentioned are those that have caused the Kosovo crisis. Those terms are no longer in use in Kosovo and we do not discuss them anymore here. The citizens of Kosovo are ready for a democratic solution expressed democratically by the citizens of Kosovo, regardless of their nationality.

Radoslav Stojanovic: A democratic declaration is not as simple as that.

Asim Bajrami: Well, professor, you used to write about referendums. I have read your works on the subject.

Radoslav Stojanovic: A referendum is not such a simple thing. A mechanism must be found to ensure the democratic expression of the will of the citizens. There has to be a statute, a constitution, a law, or a special law, name it whatever you want, but there has to be a document.

Asim Bajrami: There is a clause about the referendum in the Rambouillet agreement. You do not deny it, do you?

Radoslav Stojanovic: What I am saying is that it will be imposed by a UN Resolution since you Albanians--as well as official Serbia--have lost the international community's confidence. Unfortunately, that is the way it is--and that is your fault, as well as ours.

Asim Bajrami: I do not agree with you. I do not think that the Albanians have lost the confidence of the international community. The reverse is the case. The Albanians do co-operate with the international community. They are aware of the role of the international community and they are open to fair relations with the international community.

Nevertheless, they are not ready to accept solutions that would take them backwards, since they have bitter experiences behind them. That is why any imposed solution would be doomed to failure.

Radoslav Stojanovic: You say that any imposed solution would be doomed to failure. Let us suppose that the UN Security Council adopts a resolution containing the constitution of Kosovo and you say: "We do not accept it, we have decided to be independent." Do you think that you could refuse to accept it, just like that?

Asim Bajrami: Mr. Stojanovic, have you ever heard that the Security Council has legislated a constitution for a state?

Radoslav Stojanovic: There are several cases. Let me mention West Irian with the "temporary executive power of the United Nations."

Asim Bajrami: Yes, but we are talking about resolutions here.

Radoslav Stojanovic: You know, I am a professor of international law, so do not tell me what happened in the United Nations.

Asim Bajrami: I think that differences here are obvious and understandable, considering our points of view. We do not agree about the origin of the crisis in Kosovo or about the way to solve the crisis. We also disagree about the past. I do not think that being preoccupied with the past will take us anywhere. It can only bring us back full circle to the origins of the crisis.

Radoslav Stojanovic: You started it. I wanted to discuss the documents. I do not want to discuss the origins of the crisis.

Asim Bajrami: We were discussing the documents, but the problem is that you do not see the Rambouillet document in its entirety. You take only what you need. You are very aware that the Rambouillet agreement provides only a provisional solution that should lead to the establishment of a permanent solution. The mechanism for the establishment of the permanent solution is in the Rambouillet agreement.

Radoslav Stojanovic: And you think that the permanent solution will be determined by you Albanians. Well, that won't be the case. I keep telling you that the documents spell out the way we will go, while you keep saying that you will not accept any solution that would be against your will. And I am telling you that you will have to.

Asim Bajrami: I told you that a solution imposed by the outside world cannot be successful if the will of the people of Kosovo is not taken into consideration. This is what the Rambouillet clause does, since there is no democratic solution without the freely expressed will of the citizens who live in Kosovo.

Omer Karabeg: Obviously, you cannot agree. Therefore I suggest that we end this conversation. Mr. Stojanovic, what is your conclusion, and then we shall hear from Mr. Bajrami.

Radoslav Stojanovic: This is simply a tragic situation. The international intervention failed to bring about the expected results and that is, more or less, widely admitted. I agree with my colleague Bajrami when he says that the solution of the crisis depends of the people who live in Kosovo. Nevertheless, when people do not want to resolve something, then the solution has to be imposed. If a leader of a state is not aware of that, than he simply leads his people into a catastrophe.

Asim Bajrami: I think that the situation in Kosovo is gradually stabilizing, especially when we consider the situation before the NATO intervention. International institutions are being established in Kosovo. Joint institutions function there as well. I hope that we will have local elections in Kosovo next autumn, and that general and other elections will follow next spring. The situation will be fully stabilized after the elections, and the people of Kosovo will steadily be taking over responsibility for the situation there.

As far as the status of Kosovo is concerned, I am certain that the international community will not impose a solution. The choice about the future status of Kosovo will be left to the citizens of Kosovo. They will find a permanent solution through a democratic process, which means a democratic Kosovo, open to all those for whom Kosovo is their homeland and their state.