Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj tells SETimes that Kosovo will boost its diplomatic efforts this year.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 14/01/13
Kosovo will boost its diplomatic relations in 2013, Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj said. [Linda Karadaku/SETimes]
Kosovo plans to intensify its diplomatic efforts in 2013 in order to become more integrated in international mechanisms, while also working towards a stable relationship with neighbouring Serbia.
"We will apply for membership in different European and international organisations, [while] working to get membership into the Euro-Atlantic institutions and on Kosovo's promotion abroad in terms of our political and economic interests," Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj told SETimes in an exclusive interview.
The country is also trying to convince regional players to recognise its independence.
"We are trying to make a breakthrough in different parts of the world by targeting some regional states, which could play a role in a domino effect for other states to follow," Hoxhaj said.
Once the country reaches recognition from 100 countries, the government can start thinking about applying for UN membership.
"We don't have any plan to apply in 2013, not now, but … I am spending a lot of time in terms of thinking and analysis on which kind of approach we should have to get full membership in the United Nations," Hoxhaj said.
However, relations with Serbia remain a big hurdle for Kosovo's UN membership, and has several ramifications for both countries. The process of the normalisation of relations between the two countries is very important for peace, stability and security in the region, Hoxhaj said.
The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue could have a major effect on both countries' future with the EU. [AFP]
According to Ramadan Ilazi, the executive director of the Kosovo Institute for Peace, both countries' European futures hinge on the dialogue.
"The talks have a historic character because there are direct implications for the European future of both states," Ilazi told SETimes. "For Serbia, they are important because they are related to taking a date to start the negotiations for membership into the EU; for Kosovo, they are important to establish contractual relations with the EU."
Last month, the countries took a big step by agreeing to send liaison officers to each other's capitals.
"The opening of our liaison office, which is going to be the liaison office of the Republic of Kosovo in Belgrade, is a very important step in terms of the paradigm shifting, and in terms of psychology," Hoxhaj said.
The foreign affairs ministry is preparing a short list of three candidates for the "Kosovo ambassador" position in Belgrade, and the names will be proposed to Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and President Atifete Jahjaga.
"We need to have somebody in Belgrade who is going to be a strong voice of Kosovo representation not only from government to government but also somebody who will be able to talk to the media, to take part in different conferences, to exchange views with different institutions and different parts of the society in Serbia on a daily basis," Hoxhaj said.
However, despite Pristina's forging ahead, Serbia Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said that the officers "would not be diplomats or … treated as ambassadors." Kosovo officials remain optimistic about the talks.
The situation in Kosovo's north is expected to soon be on the dialogue agenda. [AFP]
"The most important issue of this dialogue is the dismantling of the police, security and paramilitary units which Serbia is controlling and financing in northern Kosovo. Without their dismantling, we cannot have a proper environment there, we cannot have proper conditions for the rule of law, for the democratic integration of the Kosovo Serbs," Hoxhaj said.
Kosovo expects this issue to be the main topic of discussion at the meeting Thursday (January 17th) between Thaci and Dacic.
Hoxhaj said Serbia must provide full transparency regarding the funds it is giving for the Kosovo Serbs, which kind of institutions are getting the funds, how many people and the amount of the funds.
"We are going to have a unified customs and tax system. I don't think that in the north we would be ready whenever to offer any kind of a special arrangement regarding the revenues. This is not going to be the case," Hoxhaj said.
The country is also ready to undertake further steps to reintegrate the Kosovo Serbs into public, institutional, economic and social life.
Thaci has suggested a social economic agenda for development in the north.
"We are ready to create a fund … financed [by] the Kosovo budget and by the donors in order to invest more in the north and have a proper reintegration process of the citizens there," Hoxhaj said.