IBNA Interview/Petro Koci: Western Balkan has turned into an island within Europe

IBNA Interview/Petro Koci: Western Balkan has turned into an island within Europe

In an interview for Independent Balkan News Agency Former minister of Interior and socialist MP, Petro Koci analyzes the latest developments in the country, Kosovo, FYROM and the region. The prominent Albanian politician also talks about European elections and developments in Ukraine and their potential impact in the world. Mr. Koci explains why “Macedonia cannot stand on its feet without Albanians”

Interviewed by Edison Kurani

Like several other politicians, you too formed a party which came out of the biggest political force of the left, the Socialist Party of Albania. In the recent elections, as chairman of PSV, you agreed to be part of a coalition which resulted to be a winner. How do you see the future of PSV (True Socialist Party), within the left or do you see a come back to the SP?

The creation of PSV happened in specific political conditions. The amendments made to the Constitution were one of the main factors. The left wing now seems to have the political will to correct the constitutional framework in favor of parliamentarism. Meanwhile, before the elections, we expressed our will to join SP. I believe that this is a logical alternative. This is why we’re waiting to see other developments that confirm this.

In the framework of the coalition the majority of parties that backed Rama on June 23, complain that they have been abandoned, by not being given any positions in the government. Do you share the same concern or do you think that there’s still time for this?

I believe that this issue should have been resolved by now, although it’s not a priority for the public. But, the involvement of the allies in the joint governing would honor a promise that was given and would serve to the governing transparency.

Let us stick a little bit more on the subject of the elections. Several months from now we will have local government elections. Do you think that this majority will preserve the result achieved on June 23 or will there be a drop?

I believe that our coalition will achieve a convincing victory in these elections. The socialist left will be represented in this political race by experienced and successful local leaders. I believe that the opposition is behaving in this manner because it’s getting ready for the defeat in the local government elections.

Will credit once again go to SMI for a successful result of the coalition in the local government elections?

I think so. I have said before the parliamentary elections that the agreement between SP and SMI would be strategic in the relations within the left wing. It seems that this agreement increased the electoral weight of SMI.

The sale of vote is considered to be a real problem for you. You recently declared that the number of those that sold their vote is very big and criticize the fact that nobody is brought to justice for sale and purchase of votes. Why do you believe that political illegitimacy is growing while democracy is falling?

Immediately after the latest elections, I have condemned the phenomenon of the sale and purchase of votes. To be honest, this happened with representatives of other parties more than with the two big parties. Thus, today’s parliament  contains a worrying percentage of illegitimacy. I fear that this tendency is growing, at the detriment of democracy and legitimacy. This is why I reacted following the publication of a survey which indicated that one in three Albanians have sold their vote. I don’t believe that one in three Albanians sells their vote, but the number of those who are sold for their vote is big. This is serious. The fact that nobody is punished for buying votes is serious too. With this tendency, we will have a growth in political illegitimacy and falling democracy. This is why I demand justice to intervene on this phenomenon.

European elections were held these days. The traditional left wing political forces saw a serious defeat. The extreme forces of the two political sides, especially the right wing, dominated. Must we worry about this? What would be the effect for the future of our integration, that of Kosovo, Macedonia and the region in the EU?

The growth of Euro skeptics is a great concern for the political class in all EU countries. In fact, extremist political parties encourage euro skepticism for more domestic electoral purposes. This is not the right answer against the threatening developments in the east of the continent, where there’s been a growing Russian chauvinism and expansionism. Meanwhile, the political majority in the European Parliament understands that Western Balkan must not be delayed any further in the process of integration, in spite of the unfulfilled responsibilities within it.

Meanwhile, the Albanian opposition sees the victory of right wing forces in the European elections as an advantage. You say that anti-EU forces have grown. How do you see this “lack of concern” by the Albanian right wing?

The opposition is worried about its own personal interests. It believes that if the country is not granted the EU candidate status, it will be a victory for it and  it hopes that the pressure of extremist forces against EU will block the status. But the opposition forgets that the  recent election result, can have a negative effect on policies against emigrants in the EU countries, something which also has a direct impact on Albanians. Therefore, I’m surprised about the fact that the Albanian right wing is not worried about the political growth of anti-emigration forces and anti-EU forces in the latest European elections.

In the next few days, we’re expecting the decision on the status. Are we going to be granted the status this fifth time?

I hope that we will be granted the status. Otherwise, the failure wouldn’t only be attributed to Albania, but to the EU too. Europe too benefits from it. Ukraine is the best example of the damage that is brought by the fact that it’s not part of the EU.

You accuse the opposition of starting a campaign against the status. What do you base this on?

It’s not the anti-narcotics spirit of the citizens to be blamed about the failure of the opposition’s protests today.

The opposition is holding strikes and demonstrations against the status. In fact, the opposition is making all sorts of political efforts to jeopardize Albania’s EU candidate status. DP wants to terrorize Europe by raising an alarm for drugs coming from Albania.

But the country needs an opposition that competes with the government  and not with failures, like the last protest resulted to be. I believe that there are other phenomena where the DP can show its opposition. But it cannot do it, because it’s involved, as it’s the case of the monopolies that it installed during Berisha’s government, which continue even today.

Currently, DP is making an analysis of the big defeat of June 23 and new structures are being established. Why do you link this process with the wave of accusations and protests of DP for the international drug traffic?

I believe that DP has three political objectives with the noise that it’s making against the famous plane: First, it veers off attention from domestic problems during the current process of the reformation of the party’s leading structures; secondly, it wants to jeopardize the EU candidate status for the country, because it considers the status as a challenge against it. And third, it wants to veer off attention from the economic recovery that has started in the country, especially after the payment of the first IMF loan installment, toward which DP acted inappropriately.

Let us pass on to international developments and their impact on the region. Above you mentioned that developments in Ukraine are threatening. Why do you think so and what is the role of the international community in stopping developments like the ones in Ukraine?

Events in Ukraine show that anti-fascism must be kept alive in the spirit of European civilization. Putin’s Russian fascism brought back the nightmares of world wars. I believe that EU and USA were not prepared for this scenario. Thus, there’s been a lacking objective analysis about the international political developments in Ukraine, relations between EU and Russia and USA with Russia. In these circumstances, there was no other way out besides pressure through diplomatic mechanisms and restore democratic order in Ukraine, finalized by the presidential elections.

Do you see Crimea as a danger for annexation to be activated in the Balkan too on the pretext of territorial claims that have existed throughout the years? Where would be the hottest points?

Absolutely not, but I’ve felt sorry when I’ve noticed Albanian nationalist politics being motivated by Putin’s reference, which justified Crimea’s annexation with the independence of Kosovo. Meanwhile, I’d like to stress that the events in Ukraine must accelerate the integrating mentality of the political class in the region and Brussels.

Let us remain in the region. A few weeks ago, a person died in Skopje and the suspect for his murder was a young Albanian man. The crime had no ethnic motives whatsoever. Nevertheless, Macedonians organized violent protests. How do you see these events?

Macedonia is a multi-ethnic or at least a bi ethnic state. Slav Macedonians and Albanians are the two feet on which the state of Macedonia stands on. Macedonians must realize that the state called Macedonia can only stand on its feet if Albanians want it! Every attack against Albanians is an attack against state survival. Macedonia cannot stand on its feet without Albanians. Let us not forget that the dissolution of Macedonia would be many consequences for the region. USA realized it better than anybody else.

Let us go back to the elections, this time, those in Kosovo, where early parliamentary elections are expected to take place in a few days. Thaci is demanding a third term in office. Self Determination wants to come into power. LDK wants to return into power, while other political forces that came out of the big parties also want to seize power. How do you see this situation?

Exit polls show that the next government may be formed by post election coalitions. Thus, there are many open scenarios.

On the other hand, Serb political forces are aiming to become the second or the third largest political force in the parliament of Kosovo. If this happens, it can have a blocking or imposing power. Do you think time has come for the guaranteed minority seats to be lifted and to give way to the real power of the vote?

Cross ethnic relations in Kosovo remain fragile, therefore there must be more caution in their political handling. I don’t believe that Serbs will be a decisive force in the next parliament.

What are the problems that must be resolved in Kosovo?

I believe that the problems are the same as in Albania. Rule of law, fight against corruption and oligarchy and social justice. /ibna/