Ambassador Delawie’s Interview with TV Dukagjini

Ambassador Delawie’s Interview with TV Dukagjini, May 16, 2018

TV Dukagjini: Thank you Mr. Ambassador for coming here. It is a great pleasure to have you in the studio for the first time. There are possibilities to give good messages during this interview!

Ambassador Delawie: It is terrific to be here Arben, I really appreciate it, and I’m glad I can help you kick off the new studio right.

TV Dukagjini: Very good. We will start with Dialogue. There are a lot of plans and a lot of diplomatic messages about a new and final round of Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. What is going on, is there any concrete plan about it?

Ambassador Delawie: I think there are actually things going on that are positive in the Dialogue. It is important that both sides fulfill the obligations that they have already undertaken. Certainly Kosovo has helped with that by starting the drafting for the statue of the Association for Serb-Majority Municipalities. I think it is really important to make 2018 the year for Dialogue success to move forward on the Kosovo-Serbia relationship and to make progress. To get that done, I think everyone has to think with a lot of creativity and to focus on the end state. What is going to happen at the end? What does normalization mean?

TV Dukagjini: You are saying 2018, you mean this year, not next year?

Ambassador Delawie: I am hoping this year, absolutely.

TV Dukagjini: The final Dialogue, the final round, should start this year? Because people here are expecting next year.

Ambassador Delawie: I can say there is no time like the present.

TV Dukagjini: What is your message to the political parties in Kosovo, stakeholders, the opposition mainly? We haven’t had a good experience in the last rounds of Dialogue with Serbia with cooperation with the opposition. Do you expect them to cooperate and be at the table this time?

Ambassador Delawie: I think the last month or so we have seen the political parties talk with each other in roundtables sponsored by various people, organizations and the parties themselves. I think that is very positive overall for Kosovo’s political situation. Related to the Dialogue with Serbia in particular, I think it is extremely important that the parties talk about what this all means. What is the future relationship with Serbia going to be like? Can everyone agree on everything? I hope so, but probably not. But they have to talk about it and I hope that people will coalesce around an idea of: what should Kosovo get out of this? What should Serbia get out of this? What is the end story going to be?

There is no alternative to dialogue. You don’t get to pick your neighbors. Some accommodation between Kosovo and Serbia is going to be essential for both countries. I would like to say that the Dialogue has achieved important things in the past. The police in the north, documents issues, transportation issues. But it is really time to focus on what happens next. What is the end state? And now is definitely the time to focus on that.

TV Dukagjini: How long can the Dialogue go on? Should it involve topics like the exchange of territories or other regional issues? There has been a lot of discussion about it- is that an idea that can be discussed in Dialogue?

Ambassador Delawie: I think this idea of the exchange of territories is an idea that comes up because people don’t know what else to think about. I think it blocks creative thinking that parties on both sides will have about how to get to an end state solution. We don’t support land swaps or ideas that would really create more problems than they would solve. What we do hope is that everybody will be creative, will go into this discussion with good will and to say look, what are we going to achieve for our country, whether that is Kosovo or Serbia, that will make the lives of our people better? Because that is really what it is all about.

TV Dukagjini: There is a lot of skepticism after the Association agreement about the functionality of the Kosovo state. There is a fear having in mind the Bosnia model that Kosovo will not be functional if there are certain mechanisms of governance here.

Ambassador Delawie: We know all about the challenges that Bosnia-Herzegovina faces. I think our European partners do too. I think we have no interest in contributing to a situation that would cause similar problems here. It is really important that people be creative. I understand there is an uncertainty about the Association idea and what it means to everybody but I think it is a factor for stability. It is about how Kosovo’s own citizens would get better access to things like healthcare and education where language is so important. I don’t see it as a threat to Kosovo. I see it as a way to increase stability, to increase understanding, to increase goodwill in an area where those have been kind of lacking recently.

TV Dukagjini: Do you expect more intensity in the Dialogue process compared to other technical and political processes? Because previous processes have taken a long time.

Ambassador Delawie: Let me separate, to be clear, the Association drafting and the Dialogue overall. On the Association drafting, it took a while to get going, it is going now. I certainly hope that the drafting committee, which is called the management team, will look for ways to make the lives of everybody better here, be positive and I hope that the government when it is their turn will look at what the drafting team has come up with and find a way to reach agreement on everything.

Regarding the overall Dialogue, I think it is time for intensive work, for more intensive work than we have seen in the last couple of years, absolutely. As I said earlier, 2018 is the time to make a deal.

TV Dukagjini: It has been ten years since independence. Next year will be twenty years after the war in Kosovo. Is this a deadline? Are these timelines to reach an agreement?

Ambassador Delawie: Negotiators try to avoid deadlines because they can be dangerous. On the ten years, I think for a ten-year-old country, Kosovo is doing pretty well. Absolutely. Look at 2017- there were these elections. There were national elections, there were municipal elections. Especially in the majority community, they were conducted as well as elections anywhere else in Western Europe or the United States. Half the countries of the world would be ecstatic if they could have elections as good as Kosovo had last year. That represents real growth in democracy in Kosovo and democratic legitimacy. You know half the people in Kosovo are 25 and under. You have so many talented people working on things like IT, entrepreneurship, sports. Kosovo has a lot to be proud of.

Now, what the thing to do is, for the politicians, your employees, to demonstrate to the people of Kosovo that they are working for them and that their first concern is Kosovo the state and Kosovo the people. I think we need more work on that. But really, for a ten-year-old country, Kosovo is doing pretty well.

TV Dukagjini: Since you mentioned the ten years of Kosovo’s statehood, what is your evaluation of Kosovo’s governance?

Ambassador Delawie: Good governance is about making decisions on behalf of the community, of the state, of the people of Kosovo. There the biggest challenge I think is rule of law. It is very important that Kosovo’s politicians, whether they are parliamentarians, in the government, or civil servants or whatever, recommit to say I am working for Kosovo, the people of Kosovo. I am not working for my cousin or my niece’s nephew or whatever. I am working for the people of Kosovo.

There is important work that can be done in that area even right now. There is a package of four laws that has passed the first reading in the Assembly and they are ready to go to the second reading that deal with accountability, justice and integrity in the judicial sector. I would certainly ask all members of Parliament to carefully look at those laws with an idea of passing them to improve accountability in the justice sector in Kosovo. Another reason 2018 is so important is because the Border Demarcation Agreement has passed, the European Union is going to be looking at rule of law in Kosovo. They have said that. This is the right year to demonstrate, for the EU of course, but for Kosovo citizens most importantly, that rule of law is a priority and the government needs to make progress on rule of law.

TV Dukagjini: Since you are mentioning rule of law, we had EULEX here, it was the largest mission of the EU in a third country. How do you evaluate EULEX’s work? What should be the future of this mission?

Ambassador Delawie: We have had eight or ten police and prosecutors at EULEX the last couple of years so we have made important contributions to EULEX. I think it has made important contributes to Kosovo. It has had its challenges like any institution has. Regarding the future of EULEX, I understand the government and the European Union are talking about that now, and discussions are going well. There will be a big reorientation of EULEX in the next month or so. That is positive that things are going well on the transition of EULEX.

I think the key thing for Kosovo to think about now is, once EULEX moves out of its executive role, there is no one but Kosovo citizens who will be making these key determinations to prosecute and judge potential criminals. That is a lot more responsibility for the Kosovo judicial sector and it also means there is no one else you can point to. No foreigner can be blamed for what happens in the rule of law now- it is all up to Kosovo citizens. I hope that causes people to say, I am going to do my best, I am going to be straightforward, I am going to make decisions according to the law and the constitution and nothing else because that is what Kosovo needs.

TV Dukagjini: Is there space for more skepticism? Having in mind we had EULEX professionals here and they didn’t do the best job. We are not in the best position on the justice system right now. Should we hope that locals will do better?

Ambassador Delawie: Absolutely we should hope! Not only should we hope, we should demand! It is the right of Kosovo’s citizens to petition their government and to say- you work for me and I want you to do the right job. And the right job is spelled out in the constitution, it is spelled out in Kosovo’s laws. There have been improvements, things are getting better. They are not perfect, but I think it is important to recognize they are getting better, they need to get better still and they need to get better faster.

TV Dukagjini: A lot of discussions about Special Court are going on now. What should we expect from Special Court?

Ambassador Delawie: First of all, Jack Smith, an American, has been appointed the Chief Special Prosecutor in the last week or so. I think that is positive. I think that demonstrates American commitment, continued American commitment, to the Court. I think it is important to recognize that the Court will be judging individuals accused of crimes. It will not be judging ethnic groups or members of organizations or anything like that. I think it is very important that Kosovo keep its commitment to help the Special Court execute its mission. I think we need to move forward on that.

TV Dukagjini: Should other political processes be dependent on the Special Court’s work? There are a lot of discussions over here on how the Special Court will interfere with other political processes.

Ambassador Delawie: I think it is important for political processes to continue, for government officials to do the job that people are paying them to do. I don’t know when the Special Court is going to take its next step, I have no idea. It is not a diplomatic thing, it is a rule of law thing. I certainly don’t want to give anyone an excuse not to do the people’s business. I have heard that excuse, and I am disappointed in that excuse that the Special Court might do something so we should stop A, or B, or C. I think that is the wrong thing to do. I think people should do the jobs they are paid to do, and they should do them now.

One other thing that I think is related to the Special Court, or at least related to the war, is I think there needs to be an effort to build a national consensus on what happened in the past, dealing with missing persons issues, dealing with reconciliation issues. The war has been over now for a while, you can’t pick your neighbors, you have got to live with your neighbors and you have to live with your neighbors in your own country as well. It is important I think to move forward on something like that.

TV Dukagjini: How do you see the future of the region? There are lots of skeptics about the EU perspective that anytime we get a progress report or other important EU documents, is the EU really ready to deal with the Balkans?

Ambassador Delawie: I’m an optimist. Don’t be a diplomat if you are not an optimist. I’m optimistic about Kosovo, I’m optimistic about the region. Things are definitely on the uphill track. Every time I have an American visitor who was here five or ten years ago, they say “wow, this has changed, and this has changed.” It is great to hear that. If you live with it, you don’t see the changes so much because they become incremental.

I’m optimistic about the region. I think people need to work together. The government needs to recommit to working for the citizens of Kosovo. They need to recommit to finding some kind of a solution to the Kosovo-Serbia dynamic. They need to recommit to rule of law.

I meant to say, as an answer to one of your earlier questions, that one of the most important decisions coming up, I hope in the next week or so, is the Assembly needs to pick five new justices for the Constitutional Court. That is a critical decision. They need to be good people, good jurists, who will interpret the constitution and Kosovo laws. I have what may be a surprising fact- half the people in Kosovo are women. I think it would be really important for one, or more, of those people picked for the Constitutional Court to be female. The Court has to be professional but it also needs to reflect the diversity of Kosovo’s population.

TV Dukagjini: For the last question, I will turn back to the Dialogue. Do you have a deadline for this final round? Actually, we have the feeling that we have lost a lot of time on these historical processes, or the government has lost a lot of time or focus on these processes. Is there a deadline for this final round of Dialogue so we can turn back and deal with normal issues?

Ambassador Delawie: I don’t know if there is a deadline, but I do know that time can’t wait. The time is now. I think we saw that there was all this “sturm und drang” about the border agreement with Montenegro and then it passed the Assembly and the mountains are still there. They didn’t fall down. Kosovo is still here. I think the Dialogue is going to be like that. There needs to be a deal. It needs to be negotiated, it needs to be thoughtful, it needs to be creative, it needs to be in both countries’ interest. But, that will give everyone else the opportunity to move on with the rest of their lives and say, ok, how do I make sure my children get a good education? Or, how to we deal with healthcare? There are other important issues in Kosovo other than these foreign policy issues that dominate my time. I know they are really important for Kosovo, they are certainly important for Kosovo’s citizens. I think the sooner we get a deal on the Dialogue, then people will be able to focus on other stuff that is really crucial.

TV Dukagjini: Thank you Mr. Ambassador for this opportunity.

Ambassador Delawie: Thank you Arben.