Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Kosovo premier expresses readiness for dialogue with Belgrade

Belgrade, 6 December: Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said today in an interview for Beta that he was ready for dialogue with Belgrade.

"I am ready at any moment, even as early as tomorrow, to begin dialogue with Belgrade. . .. I will go to Belgrade whenever I am invited and I am ready to talk to anyone from Belgrade," he said.

"I have no prejudices. I know what I am going to do for Kosovo. It will be necessary to meet and talk about all issues of concern to Kosovars and Serbs," the newly-elected Kosovo prime minister stated.

Haradinaj said the plan of the Serbian government for Kosovo was not realistic and that: "Serbia would not have implemented such a plan in Serbia."

"Of course, we are open to suggestions. As you know, Serbs have their voice at the working group on decentralization and they are allowed to have advisers from Serbia," he said.

Haradinaj thinks that Belgrade's policy towards Kosovo is "confused" and that that is the reason why the Serbs have been left outside the ongoing processes in the province. "Had the Serbs gone out to vote in the election, they could have had 20 seats in the parliament. These deputies would have been able to vote against me and I would have not been elected prime minister," he said.

Haradinaj plans to cooperate with [Oliver] Ivanovic and [Dragisa] Krstojevic. If they do not want to cooperate, he is going to do whatever he thinks right as regards the pilot project for the creation of the municipality of Gracanica. "I will present my plan to the Gracanica residents. I will ask them to tell me their opinions about it. I will ask them if that is what they want. I will hold a meeting in Gracanica. I will tell them that they will have two weeks to think about my plan. They will decide and we will be able to move ahead," the Kosovo prime minister explained his plan of action.

"If other municipalities are going to have their own police, Gracanica is also going to have their police. If other municipalities are going to have their own court, Gracanica will also have their own court. They will get money for infrastructure and other projects. The time will come when they are going to say: 'Thank you Belgrade, but we are staying here'," Haradinaj said.

Stressing that he was working on something that was going to function and meet the expectations of the Kosovo Serbs, Haradinaj added that he was going to talk to the bridge watchers in northern Kosovska Mitrovica. To the question of what his reaction would be if the bridge watchers demanded municipality status for northern Kosovska Mitrovica, Haradinaj said that he would like to see their plan on that.

The AAK [Alliance for the Future of Kosovo] leader said that he had no right to judge the Serb leaders in the northern part of Kosovo, but he said that he was surprised by their behaviour, saying that they were not showing great concern for the Serbs in other parts of Kosovo.

The new Kosovo government, Haradinaj added, was going to launch its pilot project in two or three municipalities. Beside Gracanica, the project is going to be implemented in a municipality with many communities and in one with only the Albanian community.

Calling on the displaced Serbs to return to Kosovo, Haradinaj said that no Serb would have faced security problems had the government had powers in the area of security. Haradinaj said that, if his government was not going to have those powers, then he was going to cooperate with the international community and use all his authority among Albanians.

"I am certain that we will win independence for Kosovo. What we need is to strengthen the Albanian majority, so that it can guarantee the safety of minorities. This has to be done in reality, not with words," Haradinaj said. According to that option, the Serbs would have the right to dual citizenship.

Restating that the Serbs were going to head the Ministry of Returns, Haradinaj stressed that it was going to be the task of that ministry to draw up a test project for the return of the displaced population and responded affirmatively to the question of whether the minister was going to be able to decide to where the displaced could return. "That is his right," Haradinaj confirmed. [Passage omitted]

Asked whether he thought that he was going to be successful as prime minister as he had been in the UCK [Kosovo Liberation Army], Haradinaj replied: "I joined the UCK just as any other citizen would have done if his country been under attack. Now, I want to build the society. Over the past five and a half years I have learned the process, and I have surrounded myself with experts, and not only from Kosovo. Kosovo is going to become a modern country," the newly-elected Kosovo prime minister stated.

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