In an exclusive interview for IBNA, prominent expert of politics in Kosovo, Albinot Maloku talks about the recent political developments in Kosovo, cross ethnic tension in FYROM and the region
Interviewed by Muamer Mellova
IBNA: Can the political crisis in Kosovo lead to early parliamentary elections?
Maloku: Republic of Kosovo has been going through political crises in both the domestic point of view and also in terms of foreign affairs. In the domestic point of view, there is a political crisis which is lasting since the latest parliamentary elections and this political crisis is changing in form and content. After the elections, the government was not formed immediately as a result of the former opposition bloc, part of which was also the Democratic League of Kosovo, which is now a partner of the Democratic Party of Kosovo in the government. After the creation of the government, we saw the emergence of issues such as demarcation and Association of Serb Communes, which were met with rejection and protests. I consider these as mistakes from Hashim Thaci’s government and then Isa Mustafa’s government. This said, I consider the early general elections as something necessary. Since it was formed, Isa Mustafa’s government is not remembered for having done anything good for the citizens. Here, we may also add the crises generated by Serbia, as an external factor, crises which have deepened the political crisis in the country. As a result of this, although we don’t have a new political class, the early elections continue to be a recommended alternative to come out of the crisis that Kosovo is going through since the last election.
IBNA: What will be the fate of the Army of Kosovo?
Maloku: Kosovo’s constitutional package, which has come out of the Ahtisaari’s package has complicated not only the destiny of the army, but other state related issues too. The bill proposed by president Hashim Thaci was another way to alter the role of the current Kosovo Security Force (FSK). In fact, this is not at all against the Constitution of the country. The consecutive reactions, especially by international partners and supporters of Kosovo during this time, were prompt and even bizarre about the proposal of the president regarding the new role of FSK. Unfortunately, through the MPs of the Serb List in the Parliament of Kosovo, Serbia is becoming an obstacle for everything that relates to Kosovo. Now we must wait and see how PM Mustafa will react to the bill relating to the new role of FSK in order for Kosovo to decide once and for all about the destiny of its army. The creation of the state also determines the creation of the army and as a result, Republic of Kosovo must have its own army and it should no longer be conditioned by those who are against Kosovo, such as Serbia.
IBNA: What consequences could the failure to ratify the demarcation agreement with Montenegro have?
Maloku: The issue of border demarcation with Kosovo and Montenegro is a necessity for the country and everyone knows this. But, the current form of the demarcation is a mistake of the government, which cannot even convince itself for it, despite the creation of different national or international commissions. The worst happened when the issue of demarcation was imposed as a condition by the European Union, claiming that it would serve the process of the visa liberalization regime and Kosovo’s European integration path. This complicated the process of demarcation, making it an issue which divided majority and opposition. As a result of this, the situation seems hopeless. But there’s hope, because although Montenegrin authorities have ratified the agreement in their parliament and without coordinating with the parliament of Kosovo, they do not insist on the fact that everything has been finalized. The only consequence for Kosovo as a result of this delay in the ratification of the current format of demarcation by the parliament of Kosovo relates to the process of the liberalization of visas, although I highly doubt that the EU will grant Kosovo the visa free regime.
IBNA: Meanwhile, will the north of Kosovo continue to be a source of tension and instability in the country?
Maloku: The north of Kosovo continues to generate crises for the country. The government has tried all methods, being more than generous with the requests made by Serbia and local Serbs, with the hope that they are integrated in the society and institutions of the country. Despite the hopes that Serbia’s parallel institutions in the north of Kosovo will be dismantled, these institutions continue to be present. Government of Kosovo has tried all different methods to fulfill the demands of the Serbs of Kosovo, but that area of Kosovo has not found its peace.
IBNA: How do you consider the Resolution of the Parliament of Kosovo for the suspension of talks for the normalization of relations with Serbia?
Maloku: The dialogue which has been initiated several years ago in Brussels between Kosovo and Serbia, did not lead to anything concrete in the normalization of relations. This dialogue, which is going on indefinitely, has started to become an absurd obstacle for the Republic of Kosovo. We may add here the numerous obstructions that the Serb authorities are generating against any agreement that the sides are reaching in Brussels and Serbia’s destructive approach against Kosovo and its citizens. Nothing was normalized between Kosovo and Serbia after this dialogue. Based on all of this, this Resolution demands authorities in Kosovo to suspend dialogue and I consider this to be fair. The current dialogue is meaningless and as such, it must be suspended, even if the EU continues to insist on it.
IBNA: Let us move into the region. How do you see the political developments in Skopje?
Maloku: The nationalist and anti-Albanian policy applied by the president of Macedonia, George Ivanov through the refusal of the Platform of the Albanian Political Parties in Macedonia, by blocking the creation of the new government by Zoran Zaev, is an unacceptable act. Albanians and Albanian language is not the problem in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. FYROM is the problem itself. It’s frightening how they forget that the problem relates to Zoran Zaev and Nikola Gruevski and that Ali Ahmeti is prepared to serve to both of them. Skopje continues to apply a conflicting policy against Albanians, making them an obstacle for development and stability, while Albanians continue their fiascos in all domains. I think that Albanians have lost and suffered enough from these policies, especially from the Albanian political parties, which have been so eager to be part of the government. Now, Albanians in FYROM must insist on their position in FYROM.
IBNA: Is there a chance for the region to be destabilized or involved in ethnic conflicts or in large scale conflicts?
Maloku: I think that the warnings of the international community for the possibility of the destabilization of the region, including an ethnic conflict, seem a little hasty to me. After her visit in the region a few days ago, the head of the European diplomacy, Frederica Mogherini expressed her concerned about the situation in the Balkans in Brussels. I consider this a failed visit due to the approach of the EU toward the region. According to the EU, its lack of engagement in the region also comes as a result of the fact that Trump’s administration is not yet clear on these issues, which up until yesterday, were clear. To me, this seems a rather childish reasoning by the EU. If the EU had a clear vision in relation to itself and the Balkan countries, the US’ lack of clarity would not have that much of an impact. The possibility for destabilization exists. Ethnic card continues to be used in the region, but I don’t predict anything major to happen, when it comes to ethnic conflicts.