KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: How does the U.S. see the resolution of political crisis in Kosovo? What does it say about the protests of the opposition and what about the positions of the Government? Can there be new elections and what to do with the dialogue with Serbia? When are expected the establishment of the Special Court and issuance of the first indictments? About these and other issues related to political situation in Kosovo we will talk today with the U.S. Ambassador, Mr. Greg Delawie. Welcome to “Rubikon.”
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: Thank you, I am very happy to be here.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: Thank you. You had meetings with leaders of political parties, what was the outcome of those meetings?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: Well, I meet all the time with politicians in Kosovo of all stripes. I continue to work on my three main priorities which, of course, are rule of law, economic development, and regional security. Of course, I discuss the political situation with people as well, and I continue to believe, and I continue to say to these politicians that dialogue and debate are the ways out of the political situation that we see today.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: But we haven’t seen anything moving so far. It’s been five months that we are in this stalemate. Did you meet the opposition leaders as well to tell them this message?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: My team and I meet with many people throughout Kosovo. We meet with opposition figures, opposition leaders that have not been involved in violence either in the Assembly or on the streets of Kosovo.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: What does that mean? You meet only with opposition leaders who do not throw teargas, or…?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: That means that we meet with opposition leaders that are not involved in violence.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: And who is involved in violence from opposition?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: You know, I don’t think it’s appropriate to say the names of specific individuals that we meet with. Diplomacy is best done, in many occasions, discreetly. I don’t tell other people whom I meet with, and I hope they don’t talk about when they meet with me.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: The opposition now called for another protest on the Day of Kosovo Independence, 17 February, and they also had recently another protest with thousands of people gathered on streets with one request – the resignation of the Government. Do you think this can be a solution?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: Well, let me deal with the protest question first. Certainly, I believe strongly that the right to peaceful protest is very important for any country. It’s a right that has been enshrined in the American Constitution for more than two hundred years. I think it is clear that the vast majority of people that were protesting on January 9th were there for a peaceful protest. That many of them had dissatisfaction and grievances. They are concerned about things like the fight against corruption or the integration of Kosovo into European institutions. However, my problem is with the violence of protests. I think the minority of demonstrators used Molotov cocktails, used violence in an effort to try to overthrow the Government, to bring down the Government. I certainly would not support – and I don’t think the vast majority of Kosovo citizens would support – an effort to use violence to overthrow a Government that they themselves elected just two years ago.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: We heard leaders of the opposition saying that they cannot be responsible for a minority group of people who do not behave in the protest. Whose responsibility it is?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: I don’t have an answer for that. I know that there has been violence at a number of protests in the Fall, and on January 9th – I don’t have inside information on who is involved in that. I was disturbed to hear some leaders talk about justifying the use of violence. As I said before, I do not believe that the political violence should be used in Kosovo or any democratic country and I certainly think that the use of political violence here would be bad for Kosovo, bad for its objectives, and bad for its citizens.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: will maybe early elections be the solution to these problems?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: Not for me to say. But, I don’t think so. Not my decision rather but, I don’t think so. The current Government was elected less than two years ago by a majority of Kosovo citizens. I am not sure – I’ll just say: I don’t think Kosovo wants to set a precedent where minority of people can force elections using violence. If you enter that process, you set that precedent and Kosovo is a young country, 8 – almost 8 years old, next month. Almost everything you do politically sets some kind of precedent. I don’t think you really want to set a precedent where a minority of members of parliament or minority of political parties can use violence to force new elections. If you set that precedent, then that’s going to keep growing—you are going to be finding yourself with nothing but the violence and elections from here to eternity.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: How to make leaders of political parties from the opposition and from the Government to sit down and find solution through dialogue?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: That is certainly what I support. And, I agree with the President’s statement the other day, that Kosovo has institutions, that Kosovo can use those institutions to resolve the current political deadlock. I support any efforts and I would contribute to any efforts I could, to promote dialogue among all of the political parties, to bring about some kind of peaceful resolution to the situation. I think what really needs to happen is for political leaders to set aside their personal parochial interests and try and find solutions that work for the citizens of Kosovo, who after all are their employers.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: something in the same manner also said Secretary Kerry when he visited Kosovo, few weeks ago. He delivered the same message. Do you think that people or leaders are hearing what you have to say?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: I think that vast majority of people are hearing. I am glad of saying the same things as Secretary Kerry – he is my boss and if I were saying something different, then I’d be making a mistake. I think really what it gets down to, is a minority of people are trying to use political violence, political chaos, to achieve something that they were unable to achieve during elections, two years ago.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: And, what is your view on the agreements with Serbia? We had a meeting, yesterday as well. The dialogue is continued and we know that one of the things that brought us to this political situation is the agreement on Association of Serbian Majority Municipalities. What do you think of these agreements?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: First of all, the United States supports the dialogue that EU is moderating between Kosovo and Serbia. My vision is for Kosovo that is fully integrated into International Institutions, certainly fully integrated into European Institutions. I think the path from here to there goes via the dialogue with Serbia. It will be essential for Kosovo to have good relations with all of its neighbors, including Serbia. The dialogue has already achieved substantial results for Kosovo in two years or so, since the agreements were signed. There are custom duties collected on northern borders, the police in the north have fully integrated, we begin to see the dismantlement of parallel structures. So, I know the dialogue is hard. I am not trying to play down the fact that is controversial issue and many people are unhappy with it but, it’s important for Kosovo. I think it’ll be important to continue negotiations on these issues with Serbia. I’ve been diplomat for thirty years now, I spend the last three years negotiating very complicated arms control agreements. Some days I hit my head against the wall because things weren’t going as fast as I wanted. I know things aren’t going as fast as people here want. You just have to keep working on it.
Regarding the Association of Serb Majority Municipalities, the outcome of that, that’s part of the outcome where you see the dismantlement of parallel structures that the Government of Serbia runs, especially in things like health, education, in Kosovo’s territory, I think it’s about full, Kosovo achieving full and complete sovereignty over all of the territory of its country. I think, it’s important to recognize this Association will operate in full compliance with Kosovo’s law, with its Constitution. The Constitutional Court produced a ruling in December …
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI … the ruling found that not everything there was according to Kosovo Constitution.
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: I would interpret that a little differently. I would say that ruling found that the Association of Serb Majority Municipalities would be consistent with Kosovo’s Constitution if it followed the guidance that the Constitutional Court provided. Certainly, the – I think it was the second paragraph of the decision part of that, very lengthy document, 39 pages in English – I read it all – said that an Association is consistent with Kosovo’s Constitution based on the 2013 agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: So, Mr. Ambassador, you believe that there is no ground to suspect that this Association will sometimes or can be or act like Republika Srpska in Bosnia?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: I think the Constitutional Court provided guidance to ensure that this Association will operate in conformity with Kosovo’s Constitution. I would also note that we are fully aware of the issues of the Republika Srpska and the fallout from the Dayton Agreement, which happened more than 20 years ago at this point. Secretary Kerry, when he was here in December, said the United States would never support any agreement that compromised Kosovo’s territorial integrity or sovereignty. That is our position. We are paying close attention to this. Kosovo’s European partners are paying close attention to this. Nobody wants a Republika Srpska in Kosovo and we will certainly work very hard to make sure that no such thing appears.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: What do you expect the end result of the dialogue would be? Serbia recognizing Kosovo?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: I hope so. That would certainly be the United States’ goal. The United States’ goal, as I think I’ve said before, is that Kosovo is a nation like any other in Europe, that it’s a member of the United Nations; it’s fully recognized by all the other states of the world…
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: It’s not yet a member of the United Nations.
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: It’s not yet, but that’s the goal. And I certainly hope that the end result of the dialogue – maybe even before the end result of the dialogue – Serbia recognizes Kosovo and the two nations have relationship like any two other nations in Europe.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: Your Embassy sent out a statement regarding the border with Montenegro. Can you clarify your position again here? Is there a need to have a new commission that can see how the process underwent? We heard that the other side, the Montenegrin side, saying they are ready if someone has doubts, they can go and negotiate. How do you see that this issue can be solved?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: Well, I have to say, I think this is just a fake issue. The Embassy statement, which resulted from the State Department’s analysis of the border commission’s documents, basically said that the boundaries determined by the Border Commission were identical with the 2008 boundaries against which Kosovo declared its independence. You know, for me, that certainly is sufficient. I also have to say that this agreement needs to be approved by the Kosovo’s Assembly to become law. The very same people, who are complaining about this agreement, are also trying to block the Assembly to keep it from operating. If they really have concerns, substantial concerns or evidence that the agreement contravenes Kosovo’s territorial integrity, they should bring that evidence to the Parliament, let the Assembly members consider it, debate it, let the world see what the evidence is, and then make a decision and see whether they can persuade other Members of Parliament to ask for a change.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: So, for now you see no room or need to reevaluate the process?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: We are confident that the agreement reached preserves Kosovo’s territorial integrity. I understand that there’s been an announcement of a commission that would review this issue. I don’t oppose that, but we’ve already made up our minds that the boundary commission’s agreement is consistent with Kosovo’s territorial integrity.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: When can we expect the Special Court to start indicting people? It has been said that it’s going to be in the first part of this year. We know that is still the process of ratification of the agreement with the state that is going to host the Court. So, how do you see the dynamic?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: Just to be honest, I don’t know. Not soon. You mentioned that there are things that have to happen first. So, I don’t know. I certainly hope that it comes into operation in the relatively near future.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: And you’re aware that there are many doubts why Kosovo needs to have a Special Court? Is it going to be biased because it is going to deal only with one ethnicity, only with Albanians? So, what do you believe will the benefits of this Court be?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: The Court is an important element of Kosovo’s path towards its full integration in Europe. Secretary Kerry, when he was here in December, talked about the need to resolve lingering allegations from the war period. Once the Special Court is in operation and has begun to act, then that will begin to set this whole issue in the past, which will be very good. Why we need a Special Court here? I’ve only been here since August and I’ve already seen several examples of the way some people exercise impunity here. Some people, who’ve been convicted of crimes, wander in and out of prison seemingly at will; wander off to Sweden or other countries seemingly at will. And I think we all agree that the justice sector, the rule of law sector in Kosovo needs some work. Numerous public opinion polls have shown that. I think the Special Court will deal with cases that would be very difficult for Kosovo prosecutors, judges and attorneys to deal with. It would operate under Kosovo law, but it will actually sit in the Netherlands. This would help deal with problems of witness intimidation and things like that.
Regarding the question on exactly who and what it’s about. This Court would deal with specific allegations of individual crimes committed against other individuals by certain people. These are identified in the Marty Report; they talk about a handful of people. I don’t know exactly how many, but it would help bring justice to some victims of the war period. There’ve been other courts that have dealt with people of other ethnicities or other issues happening during that period.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: Many people, supporters of this Court, mention that this will help reconciliation in the region. Do you believe in this?
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: I do. Reconciliation is hard in any post-conflict society, but certainly you have to deal with this forthrightly and substantively with allegations of serious war crimes. I just saw this UK-Kosovo film called “Shok”, the other night. It deals with the war crimes’ issue in the north of Kosovo during the war period. It’s a real issue: war crimes happen. They happen in almost every war by almost every side. I mean, you cannot assume that they don’t happen, but you have to deal with them and yes, that will help contribute towards reconciliation.
KTV ADRIATIK KELMENDI: Ambassador Delawie, thank you for the interview.
AMBASSADOR DELAWIE: You’re quite welcome. Thank you. Thank you for your time.