In an exclusive interview for IBNA news agency, prominent analyst from Kosovo Albinot Maloku comments the recent debates on territorial exchanges between Kosovo and Serbia, the role of the international community and the consequences that this will have for other countries of the region. He also talks about the process of the enlargement of the EU with the Balkan countries and NATO’s role in this region
What is your assessment of the idea for exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia?
In an analysis that I wrote eight years ago, I stated that territorial exchange is unproductive, but that it would calm the region. This stance followed direct contacts with numerous political leaders from the Presevo Valley, Sandjak, northern municipalities inhabited by Serb majorities, but also Albanians living in Macedonia. The idea that has been suggested by Kosovo’s PM, Hashim Thaci for border correction between Kosovo and Serbia, cannot be seen as an isolated process and apply to these two countries alone. This idea has a much wider application and it has been brought without having the necessary conditions in place to apply it. The US congressman, Dana Rohrabacher spoke of territorial exchanges between Kosovo and Serbia a few years ago, but his idea was not taken very seriously at the time. Today, president Trump holds this congressman to high esteem. The idea which has been proposed by president Thaci will not be a good thing for Kosovo and as a result, it should be rejected. The European Union has not hinted that this is the kind of solution that it wants, but it has insisted on a European perspective for the Balkan countries. This political course should be followed and if it fails, then the EU will also fail and politicians from the Balkans will attempt games similar to the ones played by Tujman and Milosevic, which could lead to destabilization.
Could this idea be realized without the support of the international community?
No, president Thaci’s idea cannot be implemented without the support of the international community. Luckily, Germany has constantly offered great support for Kosovo’s independence and its territorial integrity. The US has recommended a flexible solution and this could suggest that this country supports president Thaci’s ideas.
What will be the consequences for FYROM and Bosnia and Herzegovina?
As we said at the beginning, the idea of border corrections will also be exploited by politicians of these countries, namely Serbs and Albanians. It’s been a while that Milorad Dodik has been promoting separatist policies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Albanians in Macedonia are very happy with PM Zaev in power, because they have not issued any demands to join another state.
How do you evaluate the EU enlargement process towards the Balkans?
I have often said that the European Union has failed with the Balkan countries. These countries have been promised a European perspective, but we still have not seen anything concrete. Kosovo continues to remain the only country whose citizens are unable to travel without visas. The EU does not have a clear vision of what it wants to do.
Should this process be accelerated?
The European Union should at once show its vision for the Balkan countries. If this vision is not materialized, ideas for border correction will also be materialized and this will be damaging.
How do you assess NATO’s role in the Balkans region?
NATO is playing its role and so far, neither of the sides is complaining about it. This role should continue to be played until Kosovo becomes a NATO member. Nevertheless, Serbia seems to have decided against becoming a member of NATO and this decision should be respected.