Text of unattributed report entitled "Foreign debts make Kosova a state" published by Kosovo Albanian newspaper Koha Ditore on 2 June
Prishtina [Pristina], 1 June: The Kosovar delegation that discussed economic issues with the Serbian side in Vienna returned to Prishtina on Thursday [1 June] fully confident that it has made Serbia accept Kosova [Kosovo] as a state.
"Whether it likes it or not, Serbia entered the process of succession with Kosova yesterday, and the succession process takes place only between two states," Lutfi Haziri, deputy prime minister and member of the Kosova delegation, stated at a news conference upon returning from Vienna.
Succession turned into an issue in the sixth round of talks between the two sides in Vienna on Wednesday, in which Kosova's foreign debts were addressed. Property, savings, war damages and privatization were some of the other topics that were discussed.
Kosova delegation head Skender Hyseni said that, as regards external debts, Kosova successfully defended its platform, which the Kosovar delegation sees as part of the succession arrangements between the two countries.
"Kosova clearly expressed its readiness to recognize the 2001 agreement on succession reached among some entities of the former Yugoslavia," Hyseni said. "We presented the stance that Kosova is ready to take all the international liabilities deriving from the succession."
Members of the Kosovar delegation insisted that Kosova's external debts belong to Kosova and not Serbia, because, in their view, the fact that Kosova has foreign debts shows that it had its identity in the former Yugoslavia. Economy expert Muhamet Mustafa offered explanations on this matter. He advised that the debts have several aspects.
"There are allocated debts, that is, those debts whose final beneficiary is known, and in this respect we explained that Kosova's debts are not Serbia's debts. During the whole time, Serbia made efforts to present those debts as Serbia's, because if it exempted Kosova from those debts and its assets, it automatically means that Kosova was not a separate entity when it incurred those debts," he said.
"These are the debts Kosova initially received with the decisions of the Kosova parliament and with the ratification by the Assembly of Yugoslavia. We said we recognize Kosova's debts whose ultimate beneficiary is known and we asked for documentation from debtors," he added.
Mustafa said that, with regard to the allocated debts, the Kosova delegation defended the following stance: since Serbia occupied Kosova's assets during the 1990s and used those assets for its own benefits, then Serbia should pay those debts. While, as regards unallocated debts, he said that the Kosovars had agreed to share those debts according to a common criterion that was applied in the case of five other units of the former Yugoslavia.
As regards property issues, the Kosovars said the discussion focused on privatization, because the Serbian delegation imposed such a course.
"It seems that the Serbian delegation came to Vienna with only one aim in mind - to stop privatization, and they requested this in an explicit way," Skender Hyseni said. "But, in this case, too, Kosova defended a clear stance that the property of Kosova belongs to the citizens and the government of Kosova and that the privatization process is expected to conclude by the end of this year."
In any case, members of the Kosova delegation said the meeting concluded without any agreement between the parties. They said that, despite the fact that the Serbian side was not constructive, the Kosovars did all right.
"As regards the Serbian delegation, it cannot be said that any progress was reached as its members had come to Vienna to obstruct the entire process, and in particular they tried to stop the privatization process," Hyseni said. "It can be said that the Kosova delegation was definitely coherent and convincing and succeeded in offering the international community strong arguments on the correctness of its stance on this specific topic (economy)."
Deputy Prime Minister Haziri said that the Kosovar side was so well prepared that it caused serious trouble to the other party. "I can say that it was not easy at all to be on the other side. We made life difficult for the Serbs thanks to our serious preparation, clear stances and engagement," he said.
Haziri said the Kosovars made extraordinary progress not only on the economy, but also on other issues, such as pensions and the pension fund of Kosova, the request for the return of archives and cadastral documents of Kosova, then the war damages, both individual and collective, the damages caused to war victims, and so on.
Ilhami Gashi, another member of the Kosova delegation, said the talks were very difficult. "The thing that we noticed was that the Serbian delegation is still suffering from the past and it can in no way understand the future. We presented our stances in a professional way, because the materials and preparations were done professionally, and the interests of the Kosova citizens were presented in a dignified manner. The unity of our team proved that we are far ahead of the other side regarding cooperation with the international community," he said.
Source: Koha Ditore, Pristina, in Albanian 2 Jun 06 p 3