Monday, December 06, 2004

Haradinaj on dialogue with Belgrade, Serb Minority and his role with the KLA

Kosovo’s new prime minister, Ramus Haradinaj, said today that he is ready for dialogue with Belgrade.

“I’m ready at any moment, even tomorrow, to begin dialogue with Belgrade.  I’ll go to Belgrade whenever they invite me and I’m ready to meet anyone who comes from Belgrade,” he told media.

“I have no prejudices.  I know what I’m going to do for Kosovo, it will be necessary to meet and discuss everything of interest to Kosovars and Serbs,” said the new prime minister.

Haradinaj described Belgrade has having “a confused policy” and said that because of this Serbia remained outside the processes developing in the province.

“If the Serbs had gone out to the elections, and taken their twenty seats in the parliament, those delegates could have voted differently and I would not have been elected as prime minister,” he said.

The new prime minister described the Serbian Government’s plan for decentralisation of Serb communities in Kosovo as unrealistic, saying that Serbia would not accept such a plan in Serbia itself.  However, he added, he is working on something which will function and which will meet the expectations of Kosovo Serbs.

Kosovska Mitrovica’s “Bridge Guardians”, the controversial Serb home guard in the segregated city also came in for mention, with Haradinaj saying he wanted to meet them .  Asked how he would respond if the group demands that northern Kosovska Mitrovica become a self-governed administrative district, he said he would be interested in seeing their plans.

He also called on Serb refugees to return to Kosovo, saying that no Serb would have security problems once the government has jurisdiction in the security field.

Dual citizenship for Serbs

“We’re certain that Kosovo will be independent.  What we need is for the majority of Albanians to be strong enough to guarantee security for the minorities.  This most be done for real, not just with words,” said Haradinaj, adding that Serbs would have the right to dual citizenship in an independent Kosovo.

Serbs would also head the ministry for repatriations, said the prime minister.

Kosovo Liberation Army “in the past”

Haradinaj also rebutted criticism in the Pristina media that he has betrayed Hashim Thaci and caused a rift in the political descendants of the former Kosovo Liberation Army by forming a coalition government with Ibrahim Rugova’s Democratic League of Kosovo.

“The Liberation Army was in the past, and in those days I did my job, but now I want to work on what is to come,” he said.

Asked whether he expected the same success as prime minister as he had in the guerrilla army, Haradinaj replied: “In the Kosovo Liberation Army I was in the same position as every citizen when someone attacks their country.  When I want to build the society, for five and a half years I have understood the process, and I have experts around me, not only in Kosovo, and Kosovo will be modern.”

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