IBNA Interview/”Kosovo is threatened by ethnic and religious extremism”

IBNA Interview/”Kosovo is threatened by ethnic and religious extremism”

Kosovo Democratic League MP, Nuredin Ibishi, prominent expert of security issues, talks about the situation of security in Kosovo. In an exclusive interview for IBNA, Mr. Ibishi stops on the threats which according to him, may come from illegal and parallel Serb structures, from extremist religious movements in the country and the protests of opposition parties. Expert of security affairs since 1979, Mr. Ibishi is a joint drafter of the bill on Kosovo Police, of the Kosovo Security Strategy and the laws concerning security sector  of the Republic of Kosovo

Interviewed by Elton Tota

IBNA: The security situation in Kosovo is considered to be calm, however, some say that it continues to be out of control in the north of Kosovo. How do you see this situation?

Ibishi: The Republic of Kosovo came out of the war with many victims, with great destructions of economy and public and private infrastructure, without a sustainable development support in order not to depend on the international community, especially after independence, with many pending issues such as the fate of 1650 missing people, without a proper development in the establishment and functioning of the security sector, problems in economic development, high level of organized crime on a central and local level, without holding the Serb government accountable for war damages and expropriation of properties, deadlocks in the process of demarcation of state border with the Republic of Montenegro and Serbia, which has many territorial claims, and all of these make the current security situation fragile and with many challenges, in spite of the positive developments. If we compare it to the period five years ago, when the situation was notably more serious, in this period, Republic of Kosovo continues to contribute to good neighboring relations and it has territorial claims, thus demonstrating progress in the regional integration of security. The security of our country, in spite of its fragility, is stable in case of any potential precipitation. Although Kosovo was at war with Serbia, now we can see that there exists an improvement and significant relaxation of neighboring relations with Serbia, the neighboring countries and countries of the region. The presence of the EU, NATO and other organizations for security and cooperation in Kosovo and region, are a factor of the consolidation of sustainable peace and stability in the region and beyond. As a NATO member, Albania is ally with several countries of the region and a large number of them aspire to become EU and NATO members. Some of these countries have started the process of reformation in the domain of security and defence. The main objective of the reform of the security sector of these countries is security and defence in the framework of self defence, defense or collective security, which is being reflected through the development of small professional forces with extra defence capacities, which is also our aim at the same time.

Cooperation and regional integration is more and more expanding in the domains of politics, economy and security. Kosovo is constantly engaged in the fight against factors that threaten its security and that of the neighbors. Threats range from all kinds and even Kosovo is not protected from threats such as illegal and parallel structures, the distribution of small weapons, ethnic and religious extremism, organized including trafficking, economic crime, cyber crime, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, lack of regional political stability, epidemics and natural catastrophes.

IBNA: Do you think that actions can be taken for the full application of the law?

Ibishi: I believe that the government of Kosovo has the opportunity and capacities to cooperate with the international security presence in Kosovo, after the transformation and functioning of security structures in the north by illegal structures of the Serb minority, to act with determination until it establishes law and order and public security. The government of Serbia must gradually and ultimately withdraw from its presence and it must no longer meddle in Kosovo’s internal affairs.

IBNA: Some say that the security threats have mainly come from parallel security structures. How serious are these threats?

Ibishi: The security threats and risks from illegal and parallel Serb structures have been considered to be serious and real by other institutions and structures of civil society and experts of security. But, after the signature and the implementation of the agreement for the removal and integration of illegal and parallel structures in Kosovo, the transition to the phase of recruitment, training and their integration in the respective institutions, the situation is calm and the situation is improving, in spite of the sporadic deteriorations.

IBNA: Can the protests of the opposition cause unrest in the country?

Ibishi: Although protests are a democratic expression of discontent and their justified social demands, I believe that in this difficult economic situation and the gloomy situation of many categories, the solution of which requires time, the opposition can politically use them and abuse with them, by bringing a situation which cannot be controlled by anyone, even by those who organize it. So, this can lead to situations of unrest in the country, with serious acts against public security and the state, giving an opportunity to many criminal groups, to the religious extremist ones and especially the Serb illegal structures in the north and elsewhere.

IBNA: How threatened is the state of Kosovo from these potential terrorist acts, which can be encouraged by different destructive regional or international circles?

Ibishi: When the situation gets out of control, there’s unrest and the security sector, domestic and international, is unable to restore order, as it happened in 2004, but now, this may be associated with terrorist acts, the expansion of cross ethnic conflicts, creation of criminal groups and rebellious gangs, possible mutiny in prisons, etc. I believe that such situation would cause many victims, seriously damaging public and private property and by endangering the democratic constitutional order.

IBNA: In a part of the international community, there’s a tendency for EULEX to assume a neutral role toward the status. How do you see this approach, given that EULEX is also responsible in the domain of security and justice?

Ibishi: It’s a cause for concern when international law enforcement agencies in Kosovo assume a neutral role toward the status, a situation which has brought unprecedented situations in their missions to Kosovo, starting with the UNO, EULEX, OSCE, etc. Apart from EULEX, OSCE, UNMIK and several other international and European organizations have the same position. I’m sure that the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo have not reacted until now and all of this brings us to this situation. The acceptance and submission with the footnote and without national symbols, has encouraged Serbia to continue and put pressure on the international community to ignore us and deny the new reality relating to the status of Kosovo. The consequences regarding neutrality toward the status may lead to the ignoring of the subjectivity of the state with its jurisdiction and the institutions of Kosovo, giving Serbia a chance not only to become a factor in relation to Kosovo, but also to intervene in its internal affairs.

IBNA: EULEX officials in Kosovo have prepared a list of standards that Kosovo police must meet in order to reach a necessary level of professionalism. Among others, police is required not to be politically influenced. How do you consider this?

Ibishi: After the numerous scandals of EULEX with corruption affairs in Kosovo, I believe that it must first of all carry out substantial reforms and then provide a list of standards for the Police of Kosovo. We can only mention the time of experimentation of the Police of Kosovo by the UNMIK authorities and then EULEX. Police of Kosovo has remained a hostage of sustainable development due to these experimentations and impacts from the international community.

Very few projects from the international community have been finalized, especially when they have to do with the methodology of police work, in particular in confronting big protests and the application of other tactical and operative methods. It’s true that Kosovo Police must be deeply reforms in the aspect of powers, execution of warrants, appropriation, consistency with new working methodologies, renovation with new professionals, professionalism, the establishment of ethnic standards and not allow political, regional influences to be part of the reform of the system of grades. /ibna/