The road to recognition: PM Thaci on statehood, corruption and Kosovo's European dream

euronews (in English)
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Kosovo emerged from a bloody and brutal conflict with its neighbour Serbia some 15 years ago and has since embarked on the rocky road to reform hoping one day to be accepted by the whole international community as a fully fledged sovereign state. However, many obstacles remain in its path.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci discusses these and other issues with Isabelle Kumar in this is edition of the Global Conversation.

Isabelle Kumar, euronews: “When will Kosovo be accepted as this sovereign state, as you so wish, by the whole international community?”

Hashim Thaci: “Kosovo has strengthened its international position as a sovereign and independent state and has been recognised by 105 different states, 23 EU states, by the US and many others throughout the world. Kosovo is working hard to be part of NATO and the EU in the near future. We also hope in the near the future to join the United Nations. Kosovo is consolidating and strengthening its position to become a member of the UN and this Euro Atlantic family.”

euronews: “Our interview has sparked a lot of interest across our social media sites and we have received a lot of questions from our viewers. We received this question from Seremb Giergi and I think this is key – ‘When will Serbia recognise Kosovo as an independent state?’.”

Hashim Thaci: “In reality, last April we reached a peace deal with Serbia in Brussels. It was the first time we were able to reach such an accord between Kosovo and Serbia for the normalisation of relations. So this is a first step. But I have total confidence that Serbia will recognise Kosovo’s independence. Now, when will that happen? That really depends on the institutional authorities in Serbia – to recognise Kosovo – and as such we can’t define a date.”

euronews: “That is key then isn’t it, if Serbia were to recognise Kosovo would that then become the catalyst that would allow Russia, China, India, other EU member states to follow suit?”

Hashim Thaci: “I am confident that Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo will then help other countries who are for the moment hesitant concerning Kosovo’s process of independence. At the same time, I am hopeful and confident that Russia will change its position towards Kosovo. Kosovo and Russia are not enemies. Russia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence because of Serbia, but if it were too that might even help Serbia.”

euronews: “When you sat down for talks on normalisation of relations with Serbia, you were sitting opposite the Serbian Prime Minister, who not so long ago had wanted you dead. How did it feel the first time you sat opposite him for these negotiations?”

Hashim Thaci: “ When we sat together we did not have conflict in our minds but how to bring an end to what had happened earlier and how to open a new chapter of cooperation, a chapter of understanding, of reconciliation and of promoting civilizing European values amongst our people to build good friendly relations. If we had opened last century’s chapter we would never have reached an agreement. Over and above our emotions linked to the past we posed arguments of the future for peace development and progress.”

euronews: “We received this question from Albert Limani and he asks: ‘What was the most difficult moment of negotiations with the prime minister of Serbia?’.”

Hashim Thaci: “The most difficult moment was signing the peace agreement. Our people are not used to reaching peace between Kosovo and Serbia and in general people in the whole region are not used to reaching peace. We would have been, both prime ministers, more applauded if we failed to reach an agreement.

“We signed the agreement for the EU perspective of our countries but at the same time there was strong criticism in Pristina and in Belgrade. But, what’s the solution? Shall we continue conflicts and these problems, hostilities, murders, violence, I think against all these arguments the right proper logic triumphed with the signing of the agreement.”

euronews: “There have been international agreements, but in Kosovo you are facing a lot of pressure when it comes to corruption and you have been told to put your own house in order by the international community. You declared zero tolerance against corruption but it doesn’t appear to be working does it?”

Hashim Thaci: “There’s been a battle against corruption, organised crime and negative phenomena. We are continuing the zero tolerance mode against corruption and other negative phenomena and we are cooperating with all international authorities. Results cannot be denied but we are aware that more can be done and in this respect we will not compromise.”

euronews: “But what I am getting at is that this zero tolerance doesn’t seem to be working, if we look at the recent Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, 75 percent of Kosovars say that they feel political parties are corrupt, or extremely corrupt, and if we look at the United Nations Organisation for Drugs and crime – t