Ambassador Delawie’s Interview with KoSSev

Interview With KoSSev

KoSSev: Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has just completed her visit to the region. She was in Pristina the day before yesterday. She was in Belgrade yesterday. What were her key messages to Kosovo leadership, to Serbian leadership? Or, if you want to make any kind of additional comment to that visit, how important that visit was. The public knows that she regularly comes every year, it’s already I think her third or fourth time to visit the region.

Ambassador Delawie: I think Assistant Secretary Nuland, this was probably her third time here on her own, and she came with Secretary of State Kerry when he came in December to Pristina. She is on a regular trip to the region that she does every year, in fact she had several key messages for Kosovo. One was of course continued U.S. support for Kosovo, for Kosovo’s development, for its integrity, its sovereignty, and for its inclusion in all key European institutions. Another message is that it’s important for Kosovo’s political leaders to make progress on the issues that are important to Kosovo’s citizens. These are things that we all know about, things like corruption, organized crime, helping to improve the economy, things like that. She met with the key political leaders. She met with a group from civil society that was particularly interested in corruption issues. She gave a press interview that was on T.V. on Sunday night. I think she had a very good trip here, she had good interactions with the politicians in Kosovo’s leadership and then she went off to Albania and as you said she’s been to several other countries since then.

KoSSev: Shortly before her visit, there was speculation in the Kosovo press that she particularly came to talk on the issue of demarcation with Montenegro. Is there anything to that, or that was just part of the package, or there was no discussion on this?

Ambassador Delawie: She certainly talked about that as an important issue that needs to be dealt with. That wasn’t the main motivation of her trip. The main motivation was kind of a broad set of issues and this was certainly one of the elements. She did mention that the border agreement needs to be considered seriously on the facts and not on imagination, and that it is important for Kosovo’s sovereignty that agreements like this with Montenegro need to be executed once they are agreed by the countries concerned.

KoSSev: Lately there has been a perception among various publics that the U.S. decreased its interest in the region, in Kosovo, to a certain extent. On the other hand, we see also the visit of Assistant Secretary Nuland, that she comes every year- there can be another impression. Also the latest speculation especially in Serbia among part of the public was that there is a new comeback of the United States to the region, in particular Serbia. Are you aware of those speculations and rumors? What is the general position of the U.S. interest for the Balkans and for Kosovo currently?

Ambassador Delawie: I have to say, I haven’t really heard a discussion of a lack of U.S. interest in Kosovo. I try to demonstrate almost every day how much the United States cares about Kosovo and all of its citizens from all of its communities. Secretary of State John Kerry was here in December for a visit. He also went to Belgrade, so I think he demonstrated interest not just in Kosovo but in Serbia as well. We had Victoria Nuland here. We had Senator Joni Ernst from Iowa, which is a very important state for Kosovo because there is a sister state relationship between Kosovo and Iowa. In fact, Kosovo opened its first consulate in Iowa, the first consulate Iowa has ever had, and they are very excited about that. We had the Chairman of our Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker here, I think in February. I think these are all very tangible demonstrations of American interest in what’s going on in Kosovo and support for Kosovo’s institutions and for Kosovo’s people. To get back to your original question, I don’t see any diminishing of U.S. interest in Kosovo in particular or the Balkans in general. We are certainly committed. It is good to have an easy explanation for what our policy is in Europe, and we do. Europe: whole, free and at peace. That’s what we’re trying to achieve for all of Europe. My job is to do my best on that in Kosovo, but we are committed to achieving that vision and we are going to keep working on it.

KoSSev: Are you willing to comment on these speculations that there is a comeback or increasing interest of the U.S. for Serbia, in particular when it comes to relations with Russia or perhaps it is not your mandate to comment?

Ambassador Delawie: It’s not my mandate to talk about Serbia, it is my friend Ambassador Kyle Scott’s job to do that, he is our Ambassador in Belgrade.

KoSSev: Of those visits that you mentioned, of the American VIPs to the region, they were always, in the Kosovan press and in the perception of the Kosovan public, connected to discussion of the Special Court. Do you have any knowledge of the most current activities when it comes to the establishment of the Special Court? It has been quite a visible issue, a couple of months ago. Lately, this issue has been a bit more removed from the public agenda. So what is happening, and if you are willing to comment on the position also of the U.S. government, has anything changed in that regard?

Ambassador Delawie: What’s going on right now regarding the Special Court is there is a treaty that was signed between Kosovo and the Netherlands several months ago and that treaty needs to be ratified by the Netherlands Parliament. So I’m not 100% clear on where it is in that process in the Netherlands Parliament but that is the next step. The members of the Netherlands Parliament have to consider the treaty and I hope they do vote to ratify it on behalf of the Netherlands.

KoSSev: Is the Kosovan political leadership now more mature and ready to cooperate once it has been established?

Ambassador Delawie: I understand how difficult it was for the Kosovo political leadership to authorize this treaty with the Netherlands, to pass the Constitutional Amendment that was the first part of the process. I think that demonstrates a lot of political maturity. I know this was not an easy issue for Kosovo. Most of the work was done before I actually arrived and Parliament passed the relevant Constitutional Amendment and the law. I think that’s very important. When Secretary Kerry was here in December, he said it’s very important to deal with the lingering allegations from the war period. The Special Court is an important part of that. It’s also an important part of getting Kosovo ready to integrate with all of the European institutions that it aspires to become a part of because rule of law is a key European value. The European Union and other European states are going to be looking for positive actions on dealing with rule of law issues. I think the Special Court is one of those positive actions that Kosovo can show to say that yes, Kosovo did its duty to try to bring to justice some people that are implicated in some crimes during the war period.

KoSSev: We’ve just recently done an interview with Mr. Andrea Capussel who was the Chief of the Economic unit with the ICO here in Kosovo and he’s been quite known to the wider public for the past 3-4 years as the author of numerous articles and a book on corruption in Kosovo. He is very much supportive of Kosovo as a state but very much critical of the political leadership and one of his strongest criticisms also goes against the international community, especially the people that are sitting within the UN, UNMIK, EULEX and those dealing with the justice system. This was last week, I asked him a similar question about the Special Court and his answer was that he would be very much surprised if that Court would function properly, to paraphrase his answer. If the same people that were sitting within UNMIK, the judiciary part, and EULEX apply for the job within the Special Court, something he has heard recently, do you share that kind of criticism?

Ambassador Delawie: No, I don’t. We’ll have to see how the Special Court functions. It is in the process of being set up. I think it is far too soon to have any criticism about the way they are going to organize themselves or who they are going to hire because it is still in the nascent stages and I am optimistic that it will do its job, that it will deal with these lingering allegations. I think from the U.S. standpoint, every victim deserves justice. It’s important for the Special Court to apply justice to some victims for crimes during the war period. The United States is contributing to the Special Court, the Chief Prosecutor is an American citizen, an American prosecutor, and so we are not just morally supportive of the Court but we are actually putting some very important talent in to making sure it will work.

KoSSev: Could the Special Court be established by the end of this year or will we have to wait for 2017?

Ambassador Delawie: It’s my job to try and understand Kosovo, it’s not my job to try and understand the Netherlands Parliament. I wish I had an answer to that. This is a complicated treaty and I can’t possibly predict how long the members of Parliament in The Hague will take to analyze it and decide whether they can support it or not.

KoSSev: Throughout the protests, there was a lot of speculation that the solution to the crisis would have to be new elections. Of course we are now in a more tranquil phase. And so I have two questions now. Do you think there will be any major change this year that we will have an extraordinary election by the end of this year, or will it happen in 2017? And connected to that question, there have been a lot of protests going on throughout 2015. The last three months have been a major break. But still, the opposition’s requests remain the same. What was the main reason, in your opinion, for this major shift?

Ambassador Delawie: I don’t get a vote when Kosovo has elections. So that’s up the Assembly, up to the Constitution, things like that. I’m not sure I want to try and give my interpretation of why different people are trying to do different things. But I’ll tell you what I think. What I think is that the citizens of Kosovo are interested in seeing their government tackle problems that are important to them. These are problems we talked about before- corruption, organized crime, the economy, unemployment, things like that. The more Kosovo’s politicians spend time arguing about things like new elections or things like that, the less time they are actually spending dealing with issues that their citizens really care about.

I think it is important for government leaders and members of Parliament to remember who they work for. I know exactly who I work for: I work for the people of the United States. I know the members of Parliament here should be working for the citizens of Kosovo and I hope they keep the citizens of Kosovo in mind when they decide how they are going to spend their time because you can read any public opinion poll in Kosovo and you will see there is a low opinion of governing institutions. No surprise, no secret. I think it is incumbent upon all the leaders of Kosovo, whether they are civil servants or members of Parliament, to recognize that their employers really have high expectations of them and that they need to get to work on behalf of their employers, who are the citizens of Kosovo.

KoSSev: I have to be a bit pushy. Do you have any comment on the change? All of a sudden, these protests stopped, how come all of a sudden these protests stopped and we had them all throughout 2015 with really major violence taking place in the Assembly and in the streets. It was a real political crisis, institutional crisis, and now we have this kind of tranquil phase. Lots of people comment that lots of international Embassies, international stakeholders put pressure against the opposition to withdraw or calm themselves down.

Ambassador Delawie: Well, I think you just have to look at my comments on our website to find that I was one of those people who was urging calm, urging peace, and promoting democracy and democratic values. I’m certainly very glad there’s no more tear gas in the Assembly. I’m glad there is no more Molotov cocktails in the street. I’m very happy that no police officers or anyone else was horribly injured by those events. That was always a possibility that I was constantly worried about and spoke about publicly at the time. So it’s certainly positive that there is no more political violence right now. Because, you know, political violence is the way towards political chaos. Even if you think it is going to bring you some positive benefit to your political party in the future, you’re wrong because then the other political parties are going to learn “hey, this is a way to achieve things.”

KoSSev: What do you think changed with them, did it get more mature? It’s hard to believe. Any big change?

Ambassador Delawie: Well, it was clear that they were not achieving their goals. The Assembly continued to meet. I admired very much the members of the Assembly who were showing up to do their job despite facing tear gas. I admired also all the staff, which a lot of people forget in the Assembly, and the police officers who were arrayed across the Assembly floor. When there was tear gas all around them, they were doing their job.

KoSSev: You also felt some tear gas, how was your personal feeling?

Ambassador Delawie: It’s not a good feeling, I can tell you. [Laughter]. I was further away from the tear gas than the poor police officers in the center of the Assembly Chamber and I felt very sorry for them because it hurt me from 20 meters away. So I think those who were throwing tear gas recognized that they were not achieving their goals and perhaps that caused them to change their tactics.

KoSSev: How do you assess the role of the Serbian political leadership within the government, within the Assembly, throughout all these times? We had very positive feedback, especially when it comes to the election of the Kosovan president assessed by the internationals on this issue.

Ambassador Delawie: We’re fully committed to Kosovo as a multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-linguistic state. That’s the policy we have pursued since the very beginning. We think it is very positive that Kosovo Serbs are participating in all the political processes in Kosovo. There are members of the government coalition. They are members of Parliament. There are civil servants in the Ministries. So those are all very positive issues. It’s important for all of Kosovo’s communities to be able to play a role in the country that they live in. That’s one of our fundamental points- that every community should be represented somehow, that every community member should have at least an opportunity to try and participate in governing the country by running for election or competing for public office or something like that.

KoSSev: Many members of at least the community here in the North would at this point disagree with you when it comes to Kosovar Serbian leadership so I have to ask you. Do you see them also as a stabilizing factor in the future? But also, when it comes to the credibility that the current Serbian political leadership has amongst all communities. There is a general perception in the local community that these people were not really elected by the majority of the electorate and that they were not perceived as their true representatives. That could be also one of the reasons for many analysts, that could also be one of the reasons why the institutions are still very much alienated from ordinary people, as they don’t see them as a bridge to the Kosovo institutions, as a bridge to the capital.

Ambassador Delawie: We found the 2014 elections were conducted in a free and fair style. The OSCE, which is an expert in monitoring elections, made that conclusion and the United States certainly supported it. Whether people are happy or not with the outcome, I mean any election in the world you have some people that are happy and some people that are not. So that’s not something that it’s really fair for me to comment on. The members of Parliament from the Srpska List that were elected during the election as far as we can tell were elected in a fair way by voters that were eligible to vote in the election and the outcome is the outcome that the voters determined. That’s kind of the answer I have to that.

KoSSev: Can I be a bit more pushy, speaking of this feeling of freedom, the perception of freedom of the last election. The majority of the population would agree with you that the last round of elections here, local elections in Mitrovica were free to the stage that there were no security incidents, they were free to vote, no one was criticized for that. But if you really would like to, if you remember the atmosphere from the polling stations and we also did coverage with camera, you could see that people actually did not vote, you know, in any big or significant numbers. There is a very, very strong perception that the local elections in the Serbian community were stolen. Recently I was also in one of the international events. The Kosovan representatives, including some political ones, also were very much critical when it comes to the freedom of those elections. Pretty much everyone would agree that the elections were not really conducted in a free style. Are you willing to comment on that or not?

Ambassador Delawie: I wasn’t here in 2014. I have to rely on my predecessor, Ambassador Jacobson, and the OSCE and I respect their opinions and I accept their opinions. Not everybody votes in elections in every country in the world. If you don’t vote, you kind of lose a moral standing to complain about the outcomes of the election I think.

KoSSev: To stay a bit more with Kosovo Serbian leadership. Lots of criticism has been raised by Kosovo political leadership, both position and opposition leaders, that with the latest elections and with the latest structure in the Kosovo Parliament, Kosovo is facing a comeback of Serbia, especially when it comes to the return of Belgrade in the Kosovo government. Probably you’ve also heard the same criticism. What do you think of that?

Ambassador Delawie: What I think is the United States supports a sovereign and independent Kosovo. As I often say, we support a peaceful, prosperous, democratic, multi-ethnic Kosovo that is at peace with its neighbors. That is what we are trying to achieve. We spend a lot of effort to secure that goal. And we are going to keep working on that for probably years to come. Kosovo had an ambition to become a part of Euro-Atlantic structures. It wants to become a part of NATO. It wants to become a part of the European Union. And the United States supports those goals and we support not just with words, but we have a major USAID presence here that is trying to improve the economy over the entire country, including here in the North.

We also support the kinds of democratic and rule of law improvements that are going to be necessary before Kosovo is really ready to become part of all those structures. Things like the justice sector- we are spending $12 million this year on the Justice Sector Strengthening Project that will help improve transparency in the judicial sector. We say in the United States that sunshine is the best disinfectant. If you’ve got a problem with corruption, you provide more and more transparency and it gets harder and harder to be corrupt. So some of these changes that we are supporting will, we hope, improve the justice sector, make it easier for the vast majority of honest judges and prosecutors to do their job in the right way and to help begin to build the trust of Kosovo citizens in these institutions. Because until Kosovo citizens trust these institutions, it is hard to make real progress against corruption. If you’re not sure whether you are going to be treated fairly or not, are you going to report corruption? I don’t know.

KoSSev: Hardly any citizens of Kosovo say they feel safe when it comes to this kind of judiciary safety. Do you agree with that? Or do you agree with this impression or you don’t share this impression?

Ambassador Delawie: Safe, it depends on exactly what you mean. I know that-

KoSSev: As individuals. Many people, regardless if they are Serbs, Albanians, whoever, they say “well, I’m not safe.” It’s not a legal place.

Ambassador Delawie: From public opinion polls I know that people are not fully satisfied with the justice sector. I think that Kosovo Police are fairly well-respected certainly for the region. I believe the judges and prosecutors unfortunately have a, what do you say, are respected by only 17-18% of the population. Clearly those institutions have to work harder to build the trust of Kosovo’s people. And that’s not a thing you can change overnight. These are the things you just have to keep working hard on, month after month. We’re supporting that, and of course other international partners are as well. But, you cannot expect that to change overnight. We work with the police, we work with the prosecutors, we work with the justices to try and create better conditions so that people will gradually feel safer.

KoSSev: This one was tucked into this security area, so I’ll just stay a little bit with the Kosovo Serbian and other non-majority communities. There have been kind of increased number of incidents taking place in the south of Kosovo, especially rural areas, in the villages where there are returning sites. There are statistics we’ve already had like dozens of those incidents, including some of them that are taking place repeatedly in the same area such as the village of Paralovo. So my question to you would be, how visible is the U.S. Embassy is in those places in Kosovo, do you go often there, are you aware of those events, do you talk to people?

Ambassador Delawie: We try to be pretty visible. We talk to a lot of people, we talk to the police, I have a team of people whose only job is to work with the police and I have political officers like Dustin who part of his job is to travel to non-majority communities and interact with the population and with the officials. I go around to visit some of these cities as well and so we are aware. Every country’s got crimes, my country has crimes too. Certainly any ethnically-related crime is bad for Kosovo, it’s bad for all of Kosovo’s citizens, whether they are in the minority or the majority. We are doing our best to work with Kosovo’s citizens and institutions to strengthen the ability of rule of law institutions to deal with these crimes, which are terrible crimes but there is always an emotional element that makes them harder to deal with. How do you cope with that problem? Increased professionalism, more training, and we are doing our best to help with that.

KoSSev: Another problem with the Kosovo institutions and its relation to non-majority communities is the language. Last week, if I may just qualify it as an incident, at least how the two Association of Serbian journalists reacted. The Kosovo Government presented Fulbright Program, strongly supported by the U.S. and they failed to provide translation to Serbian speakers which caused quite strong verbal reactions of these two journalistic associations. This has been however only a small part of something that has been strongly perceived by the wider community as lacking of Kosovo institutions failing to provide for proper usage of Serbian or other non-majority languages. To what extent are you aware of that problem and can the U.S. Embassy do anything in order to improve or support the Kosovo institutions to improve the situation in the usage of non-majority languages?

Ambassador Delawie: I am aware that every day, every official doesn’t implement the law on languages exactly right and we are trying our best to set a positive example. I hope, I haven’t checked, but I hope by now my remarks at that Fulbright event are on our internet site in both Serbian and Albanian. I can tell you the agreement we signed , it was on Friday, was in English only at that time because the lawyers back in Washington had some very last minute changes and we couldn’t get them translated into any language other than English. It should be done I hope by now into Serbian and Albanian. We’ll see, I mean it’s complicated. I don’t know exactly where that stands today, but certainly our goal is that the agreement is public and in all three languages.

Kossev: And you have said that it was not your, you were not as an of the organizer of the event, it was also one of the reactions.

Ambassador Delawie:  Well, I was one of the speakers, I certainly want to accept some of the responsibility for, you know, we have to do a better job. And,  I will certainly commit and do my best to do a better job because we want to obey the Law on Languages too like anyone else in Kosovo should and make sure that all of Kosovo citizens have an opportunity to understand what we are up to. Now I can certainly tell you that the Fubright agreement which will provide for scholars to go back and forth between Kosovo and United States and professors and all the interesting things that Fulbright does , it is going to be open to all of Kosovo’s language communities and so far we’ve had, I think 84 Fulbright scholars from Kosovo going to the United States on various programs and this new agreement should enable us to up that number substantially and I would encourage all of your readers, all of your listeners, to go to our web site, learn about Fulbright and if they feel they meet the requirements to compete, because it is an competition, it is a really tough program to get into, but I’ve been doing this job for thirty years and every Fulbright scholar that I have talked to from every country in the world they said that it has been a transformative experience for his or her life.

KoSSev: Fulbright program in former country, I can tell you from my experience was one of the top, top, top respected program, international programs you ever had. I was studying thanks to those who actually studied in the US throughout Fulbright programs, and it was quite widely known amongst the public, very much respected. So people are not ignorant about the program at all, about this program at all.

To get back to this last question because you just inspired me to ask you about any estimates or if you have any precise statistics on all of the investment of the US in Kosovo since 1999. It doesn’t have to be that accurate, you know, there is general perception that the US invests lots of funds. It is also visible very much in the north throughout, especially when it comes to support through USAID or some sister, twins organization. Probably much more to other areas in Kosovo , any statistics.

Ambassador Delawie: From the U.S. Government, since 1999 we have invested about $2 billion dollars in Kosovo mostly through USAID , and just for your listeners in particular about 15 percent of that is in the north.

KoSSEv: Aha, since 1999, 15 percent?

Ambassador Delawie: Since 1999, 15 percent. And, you know, we’ve been doing agriculture, I have visited a farm today

KoSSev: in Leposavic?

Ambassador Delawie: in Leposavic, which is supported by USAID, and it seems to be doing great, I wish I could have eaten all those tomatoes and peppers I saw growing. We do education, we do things like this rule of law stuff, things like the Justice Sector Strengthening Project that I mentioned a few minutes ago. We work in energy, and support small medium businesses because unemployment is a significant issue of course across the entire country. And so we are trying to help businesses create jobs for Kosovo citizens and we’ve got a variety of interesting ways we do that. Sometimes we help buy a piece of equipment, specialized manufacturing equipment, sometimes we run internship programs where we pick up the cost of an intern for six months and then it turns out that a high percentage of them actually get hired into the company after their internship is over. That’s the public sector. And that’s what we would call traditional assistance where we provide people, or things, or money to help make things better in Kosovo.

There are other things that are going on too of course. There is private sector, there is a negotiation going on right now between the Kosovan government and an American company called Contra Global that is interested in building a new coal-fired power plant outside of Pristina that would be modern.

KoSSev: What’s going on with that, it is stopped somehow? Because it was supposed to start sooner?

Ambassador Delawie: I have learned a lot. It is complicated. Apparently the contract between the Government of Kosovo and the investor is 3,000 pages. Which is about this high I think.

KoSSev: Did it get stuck somewhere?

Ambassador Delawie: No, they are working on it. The American company has lawyers, the Government of Kosovo has lawyers and they are trying to negotiate this thing and it takes time.

KoSSev: Any prediction how long?

Ambassador Delawie: That part is done sometime this summer I hope. That’s the goal.

KoSSev: This summer?

Ambassador Delawie: This summer, for the contract.

KoSSev: And then?

Ambassador Delawie: Then the American company has to hire subcontractors that can actually do the work.

KoSSev: So the first construction work could start at the end of 2017?

Ambassador Delawie: I bet it’s later. These things are massive and they employ a lot of people which is good but of course you have to hire all those people and train them and do that before there is real work. The prediction I’ve heard from the American company is that, if all goes well, this plant gets turned on in 2022. That gives you an idea of the scale of the project

KoSSev: But it is supposed to resolve any shortages of power?

Ambassador Delawie: Yes, it should. You know the electricity in most of Kosovo comes from a 1960s era, 1970s era coal-fired power plant. They are old. Yhey require a lot of maintenance, and sometimes they just stop without warning. Of course there are environmental problems as well. Hopefully this new one will work properly for a long time. It will certainly meet all the European standards for air pollution.

KoSSev: Just before to ask you, it is the very last to think about, the last follow up in regard to the US spending lots of money in Kosovo. You visited the North. You said it is about 15 percent of $2 billion spent so far. Do you really see that money when you travel around, or do you see that the money was really spent or throughout Kosovo? Because lots of people are pretty much sure that that money was really given by the US but they are not sure if all the money was really spent by the organizations, etc. So when you travel throughout Kosovo- $2 billion is huge money. Do you see the effects of that money?

Ambassador Delawie: I do a lot. I see things like these plastic greenhouses that are relatively cheap but they allow farmers to work eleven months of the year instead of seven months of the year without a greenhouse. They are all over the place. Where we visited today there were four I think, four or five greenhouses. A lot of what we spend our money on is people, either Americans, other Europeans, citizens of Kosovo. The vast majority of the USAID staff are citizens of Kosovo, who work for Bryan and his colleagues. They provide technical assistance, they provide project supervision, and they do things like that. It’s a lot of money, it has been 17 years, basically at this point, just about now, just about 17 years right now. And, we don’t typically build giant buildings.

KoSSev: Ah, ok, it’s a process.

Ambassador Delawie: We are trying to help people, we are trying to improve people’s lives, and not everything we do works I’m sure, but we keep trying, we keep improving, and we learn from other countries experience, because USAID works in half the world, and they have a pretty good understanding of what is likely to work and what is not likely to work. We try to benefit from the experience that we’ve had in other countries, and of course we take the experience we have in Kosovo, as we work in other countries as well that require economic assistance.

It may not be evident exactly where all this money went, because a lot went to employ people, but it’s all there, I’m sure it was spent well, and there are big things that we do spend our money on. We’re building a brand new embassy in Pristina. My predecessor Ambassador Tracey Jacobson did a ground-breaking in May of last year, it’s going pretty well. Right now from the outside it looks like a green fence, but it will become more attractive gradually, and we hope to move in there in January or February 2018, if all goes well. And that is, will be, a very tangible symbol of our commitment to Kosovo and its future.

KoSSev: Where do you see Kosovo, north of Kosovo, in five to ten years, and I have to also ask you for a little bit of follow up, when you, when we were speaking about Kosovan and Serbian leadership within the institutions. What would be your message to those of them, that at one point of their mandate act as part of Kosovan structures, clearly performing activities within Kosovo as a state, then on the other hand, once they are back to their constituency, here on the ground, they’re having another, how to say, political narratives, speaking of, you know, the government as the government of Serbia, as the Republic of Serbia in Kosovo, and it’s been a bit confusing also to ordinary people. People are aware here that there is a kind of transitional phase, that there is complicated situation, they would like for something to happen, on the other hand they understand the process that is taking place, but I’m asking you, when it comes to Serbian political leadership in Kosovan structures, like mayors, like local, like MPs, Deputy Kosovo Prime Minister, etc.

Ambassador Delawie: Ok, what was the first part of the question?

KoSSev: Yes, the first part, where do you see the north of Kosovo in five to ten years, but before that I would like, if you really can answer, what would be your message to these particular Serbian political leadership that are within Kosovan institutions, both at the local and central level, who are giving kind of very opposite, conflicting, or confusing political narrative messages. At one point of the day they are part of Kosovo as a Republic of Kosovo, sitting there, but then, on the other hand, they are speaking of Republic of Serbia as the country.

Ambassador Delawie: Well, I think it’s important that everybody in Kosovo work to build a better future for everyone in Kosovo, and all of the citizens of Kosovo are better off if the institutions in Kosovo work better, and the people contribute to these institutions as elected officials, are working on behalf of the state, as well as, of course, of their constituents they’ve been elected to represent.

I think there have been improvements in Kosovo since independence certainly, I don’t think it’s improving as fast as young people would like them to, it would be silly to deny that, but, you know, things are getting better, trust is improving. In a post-conflict situation rebuilding trust takes a long time, unfortunately, I wish it didn’t, but I’ve served elsewhere where that was a problem. But people have to keep working hard to make the lives of Kosovo citizens better, and they do that by contributing to Kosovo’s unity, to its sovereignty, to working within Kosovo’s systems to improve the rule of law, to get things done for the citizens, and that, I hope, everyone will continue to do.

KoSSev: So, where do you see the north of Kosovo in five to ten years? As fully integrated part within this self-declared Republic of Kosovo, or still they, let’s say, the territory, the people that are torn between, you know, faithfulness to Serbia, and forced to be part of…

Ambassador Delawie: You know, my crystal ball is a little bit broken today, so I’ll tell you what I want and I, since I’m a diplomat that means as an optimist, so you can draw your own conclusions there. But I think things will continue, I hope things will continue to improve for the northern Kosovo, as well a the entire rest of the country. I hope that people work together to develop additional trust between communities, that they will work together to develop the kind of unified, multiethnic, multi-faith, multi-linguistic state that the United States has been trying to help people achieve since long time.

And, I see a lots of talented people in the north of Kosovo, some people work with USAID, others don’t, and I have confidence that people, people of whatever ethnic background, faith, whatever, they want to have a positive life. They want their children to have positive lives, they want their children get educated, they want to have enough money to cope with the daily problems, and feed themselves and their families, and I think that is more important to most people than kind of political differences that seem to dominate. I am sorry, your profession, the journalism in Kosovo, people want to have calm, they want to have peace, and they want to have some measure of economic security, and we are doing our best to contribute to all those things, and plenty of people in Kosovo are contributing to those things as well. So, my wish for the north part of Kosovo, is that things continue to improve economically, democratically, and in rule of law sense. That Kosovo’s national structures would become increasingly important for people in the north, and will deliver services to people in the north at an increasing rate as time goes on.

KoSSev: Thank you for talking to KoSSev

Ambassador Delawie: You’re quite welcome, thank you