Abazi: Let’s get the best out of the ‘take it or leave it’ deal
The member of the Parliament of Kosovo says that what was reached in Brussels between Kosovo and Serbia on February 27, deepens the problems that are real on the ground.
During an interview for the Voice of America, Mr. Abazi says that before a take-it-or-leave-it proposal, the country must do its best to guarantee the functionality of the Kosovo state. But he doubts whether such a thing will be possible.
According to Mr. Abazi, the Vetëvendosje Movement has had two years to reframe another position, so that what started ten years ago does not end in the current situation, with an agreement that includes all the agreements signed in the past, including those and those problematic for the issue of the functionality of the state of Kosovo.
Voice of America: Mr. Abazi, while Kosovo is marking these days the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the war, the efforts of the Western countries, which with their commitment ended the war, have gained a new intensity, for a normalization of relations with Serbia on the basis of a European proposal. What is your assessment, do you think that after 25 years, Kosovo and Serbia will manage to normalize relations?
Haki Abazi: This day, which we are talking about, is the day of the KLA epic, a moment of great pain, but also of infinite heroism of the Jashari family. And this marks, after more than 10 years of talks, another moment of the attempt of the European Union and the United States of America to bring the issue of the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue to an end. You rightly said that on February 27 an agreement was concluded, although it was not signed, pending the guidelines, which has a deepening of the problems, which are real on the ground. Of course, a small Kosovo, with a not great power, has been put in a position, where this proposal is already, take it or leave it, and we must do our best, within this period of time, to get the best things out of this agreement. good for the functionality of the state of Kosovo. Will it be possible? I have doubts that Serbia is serious about ending the dialogue with Kosovo. It is buying time to avoid being seen in the light of not imposing sanctions on Russia and also playing a double game with the European Union. But anyway, here we are. We have an insistence of the Administration of the United States of America, with the support of the European Union, to finish this issue. The process has ended with an agreement, which also accepts all the agreements signed in the past, including those that have been problematic for the issue of the functionality of the state of Kosovo.
Voice of America: Surely you are referring to the issue of the Association of Municipalities with a Serbian Majority. Whats your opinion? What solution should this issue take?
Haki Abazi: It was a mistake to enter into dialogue beyond the Ahtisari Plan to make the issue of the mono-ethnic Association part of the agreements. It continues to be a mistake because it is a direct opposition to the multi-ethnic character of Kosovo, on the basis of which the independence of Kosovo was declared, and the compromises that were made at the time of Ahtisaari. The solution would be for Serbia to be seen in the light of the paradoxical demands for the instrumentalization of the Serbian population in Kosovo in its interests. Which means, from the war with tanks it did in the 1990s, Belgrade has turned its efforts through the local Serbs to sabotage the functionality of the neighboring states. Not only the functionality of Kosovo, but also that of North Macedonia and Montenegro. However, this is the reality. I think we made a mistake in the last two years in the dialogue, continuing with the impression that we can end up in a different situation and with the idea that the conflict in Ukraine will be to Kosovo’s advantage. In fact, this has turned into extraordinary pressure through the talks in Brussels, in a take-it-or-leave-it situation, which may not be the best for Kosovo.
Voice of America: However, all that you said to Mr. Abazi seems to belong to history, we are in these conditions that we are. The establishment of the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority is an international obligation of Kosovo, there is an existing agreement, it was approved in the parliament, the Constitutional Court did not reject it in its entirety and says make the necessary changes and progress in this direction. What would be the solution?
Haki Abazi: I think the solution has been and should be that the state of Kosovo must do what is imposed on it in the sense of an Association, which does not have executive powers and is not the third power in Kosovo, to achieve at some point another, where functionality, economic development, prosperity can be a new offer for all residents, including Serbs. But, focusing on the mechanisms that will undermine the functionality of the Kosovo state, will be a further deepening of the problem and not a solution, what is required even today by the international community.
Voice of America: Do you think that there are spaces that even at this moment, in the expected discussions that will be held in Ohrid, for this issue to change, for those issues to be reviewed? Will the Kosovo side have a voice in this case?
Haki Abazi: I think the space has decreased. In reality, we are dealing with a process that has included all past agreements, including the Association, and this is a problem in itself from which it is difficult to get out. I think there was space two years after the Vetëvendosje Movement took power, to have a reorganization and conviction and a different positioning. This has not happened.
Voice of America: In your opinion, what should Mr. Kurti have done that he did not do in your opinion?
Haki Abazi: I think it should be an offensive diplomacy in the United States of America, a much more adequate equipment with experts on Balkan issues in Washington, Berlin, Brussels and London so that this flow started ten years ago does not end in the situation and the results we have. Secondly, the evidence that we can make the state through economic development and keeping the brain in our country, so that the internationals do not see us as a state that is not able to maintain itself and therefore needs a solution to move to another stage of development.
Voice of America: In Mr. Kurti’s first government, you were the second man behind him, deputy prime minister. In the second government, you did not get any post, until recently you were the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Your critics say that many of your criticisms are actually rhetorical and vindictive. How do you respond to these assessments?
Haki Abazi: I think this can be a form of judgment. But we must return to the results. If what I say and the form of criticism I make has nothing to do with the results and the acceptance of a new framework of the agreement that contains within it all that we have had a political cause as the Self-determination Movement, against which we have protested even in Parliament and on the streets, there were people who lost their lives in the efforts against the Association, then of course they could be considered rhetorical and vindictive. But the attitude without transparency to end up with the involvement of the Association and a framing of the same dialogue and similar to what other governments have done, certainly brings me to the position of a critic against the change, which was made without even a public debate. This is the biggest pain, because I think we have lost a tremendous chance to reorganize as a dialogue party to run away from the agreement, which was signed for reasons they know, but most theirs are no longer even part of politics. This is the reason why we have also received the trust of the citizens, thinking that we will do better and differently