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Politics

French Media: Albin Kurti, the man who wants to save Kosovo

 

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French portal, Politique Internationnal conducted an interview with Albin Kurti, political developments in Kosovo, the opposition Vetevendosje to political agreements with Serbia, corruption, etc. Kurti is not asking for unity of oppositions. He talks about AAK new initiatives but also position them violent methods chosen by Self. Below you can read the interview Albin Kurti for the French media.

PI: Since the autumn, the opposition is challenging the agreements signed by Kosovo with Belgrade and decisions “unconstitutional” the current government. Your movement, Vetevendosje !, has greatly contributed to the unification of the opposition, but the union ended dissolved?

Albin Kurti (CA): Hashim Thaci Choosing hit unity of the opposition had succeeded we put together from the beginning of the mobilization against the agreements signed with Belgrade, but also against the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro this autumn. It seems that AAK and initiative was tired. Our determination is strengthened by the decision of the Constitutional Court in late December, which considered that the establishment of the Association of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo with partially violate the Constitution. Vetevendosje partners – AAK and INITIATIVE – opted to create a new block, we wish him luck in their new battle. Today, Self-determination represents the second political force in Kosovo and our movement is committed to joining with civil society opposition movements. We do not want just a change of government, but a change in the way government! Well, it seems essential to us to reject any political calculation that will be aimed at coming to power without having the capacity to profoundly reform the constitutional framework of Kosovo.

PI: You have chosen to act fairly violent methods, not hesitated to block parliamentary sessions. Why such a strategy? Does it discredit your action?

AK: We protested inside parliament and outside it. Our action may seem radical, but one must understand that the situation is extremely critical. There is a real danger that Kosovo will become a second Bosnia and Herzegovina. We fear that the establishment of an association of Serb majority municipalities will lead our country towards the final separation on ethnic grounds. To block parliamentary sessions, we used Filikaqa, rotten eggs, and in the end have thrown tear gas. In fact, tear gas dissolved in less than 30 minutes, and if it is created Association of Serb-majority municipalities, it will last more than 30 years! It is not our intention to hurt këdoqoftë, but not disbanding the workings of a majority that violates the Constitution.

PI: Your goal is not just to get power, but also to recreate the institutions.Loving how to do?

AK: Kosovo needs a third republic – obviously not as if she has known France!Let me make a brief historical reminder. Our First Republic is proclaimed symbolically clandestinely by deputies assembled in Kacanik on July 2, 1990, under Serb occupation. It was a republic for resistance. Second Republic was born on February 17, 2008, the declaration of independence of Kosovo.Unfortunately, this is a regime that rules the first day of nepotism and corruption. This is the republic of privatization mafia, extortion of resources and public goods, the impotence of justice, a republic without a state of law, a bowler for sale.

And do not talk to many concessions to Serbia in the framework of negotiations started in the spring of 2011 with the Brussels mediator, that would be unimaginable at the time of the invasion. This second republic has so weakened the institutions of Kosovo, that Kosovo today seems like a Failed State, a “failed state.” It remains vital and urgent, essential reforms to be processed. It is not enough to change ministers or the prime minister, but must be born a new republic. A third republic, a republic for development.

PI: Kosovo’s constitutional framework is nevertheless defined by the 2007 United Nations envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, during talks that led to independence. How to change the Constitution, when it guaranteed in theory by the international community?

AK: We formally emerged from the framework of “supervised independence” with the completion of the mission of ICO (International Civilian Office, ICO) in September 2012. Kosovo is already a state like other states, which theoretically enjoys full sovereignty and should not give account “protectors” of its international!

Often accused of not respecting the current ksuhtetutën. Of course we want a new constitution, but we respect the constitutionality unlike the current rulers who claim to defend the current constitution, breaking open the constitutionality of signing agreements with Belgrade, which are clearly anti-constitutional!

To change the constitution, we will need a qualified majority, ie two-thirds majority in parliament. It may seem hard to ensure the quorum, but Kosovo is at the moment experiencing a crucial period of its history, where everything is changing fast. One day in 2016 was worth a month in 2015. The forecasts are difficult.

PI: If you come to power in ç’hapësirë count? Do not fear the international missions present in Pristina, EULEX starting, your project will block reform?

AK: The declaration of independence, Kosovo was under joint control of UNMIK and KFOR to protect each sometimes different interests. KFOR now has a secondary role and has EULEX to replace UNMIK. With EULEX; remains it recognized that “Quint”, the group of ambassadors of Western countries with influence in Kosovo, is playing an increasingly crucial role in decision making.Telling the truth, the past few years, “Quint” remained a two composed by Washington and Berlin.

Today, I believe that Kosovo can more easily assert its selections. The political space is more open than it was last year, but the current government remains obedient to its international mentors. Nor it is trying to capitalize on this political space. This obedience is due to the corruption that causes gangrene him all our institutions.

Our government, in power since the end of the war 17 years ago, are afraid to lose their functions, which guarantee ownership of the country’s resources.This is also why I do not have any willingness to take a political forceje flyer states that since 1999 shown as “friends” or “defense” of Kosovo. On her part, the opposition wants to negotiate with Brussels, London, Berlin, Paris, Rome or Washington; but creating new bases of dialogue, healthier.

PI: You have changed position. Until recently, you refuse to talk with the international community …

AK: As you said, by 2008, we had working with UNMIK. No sovereign state in the world had no power so as to have the heads of UNMIK in Kosovo. The situation has changed with independence and with the arrival of EULEX, and dialogue is possible. But of course that the talks do not imply agreement …

PI: Exactly. You have criticized many dialogue with Belgrade, which takes place through the mediation of the European Union?

AK: Thank you for the way in which this takes place is not the appropriate dialog. Eligible need another level of dialogue within, directly to the Kosovo Serbs. No need to talk non-stop for “reconciliation”. It does not lead anywhere.Speaking specifically about the development should. I am not against reconciliation, but speaking only for compliance and where nothing is changing in reality, we are finalizing the strengthening of the (re) birth of hostilities.

In fact, personally, I do not need to agree with Kosovo Serbs, they have not done anything. I did not ask them what account, but Belgrade.

Serbia has jailed two and a half years … I have no animosity towards Kosovo Serbs. And, for the moment, the only dialogue that is taking place is a diplomatic dialogue with Belgrade under EU mediation, a dialogue that has been imposed for a so-called reconciliation. We have more need for a social dialogue and democratic; open to local Serbs, on the possibilities of developing our common state. As Belgrade and any international mediator should not interfere in this dialog.

PI: Do you really think that Kosovo Serbs willingness to talk with “self-determination”?

AK: We need to start talking to farmers. At least they have feet on the ground.Imagine a meeting between two farmers, one Serb and one Albanian! Instead of repeating the same things about historical grievances eternal; speak fertilizer, seed, market – how will guarantee the sale by the authorities? etc.When I have presented a project such a Western ambassador, do you know what the answer? “Will we be part of such a program”? I replied: “Why not, but obviously, we need more farmers than for diplomats”. This example illustrates the good functioning of international representatives, they think first and foremost for their visibility, think they are necessary!

Of course we need the EU to move, but we have more need agricultural specialists or economists; that police, judges or cynical diplomat. The denominator of this new republic we dëshriojmë is: “Development”.Immediately after independence, former Prime Minister Thaçi went on a Serbian village to give a tractor. Twenty cameras were around him. We prefer twenty tractors and a camera. Or even better: no camera! For more worth acting than talking. This reminds me of Beckett’s theater: better is worth not talk too much!

Serbs to return, since that leads Vetëvendosja Prishtina, everything goes very well in both Serb villages found in the municipal area of Kosovo’s urban capital.The municipality has an excellent relationship with their representatives, because privilegjojmë a concrete dialogue on the needs of citizens, rather than repeating the same empty words about “reconciliation”, especially when they are near the western cameras.

PI: From its declaration of independence, Kosovo is engaged in a process of European integration, which defines the political and economic agenda of the country. If you come to power, do you plan to continue it; despite the normative barriers, administrative, legal and political dealing with European candidates?  

AK: We want to become part of the European Union as soon as possible, but we are fully aware of the fact that this issue is scheduled for tomorrow. When he took office, in November 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, stated that the enlargement process was frozen at least until 2019. Specifically, this means that there will be no new expansion front at least 2025, because it is the dynamics of the expansion is discontinued until 2019.

Brussels knows that will be thoroughly prepared this great expansion and sensitivities that should be administered, given the numerous quarrels which shake Western Balkan countries, as the dispute over the name around Greece and Macedonia since 1991.

However, even though the deadline is far: Kosovo should best be prepared. I want to remind you also that at present, Kosovo does not have the status of candidate. I have still a relatively free hand to guide policy we want. Of course it has a political utopia project of self-determination, but I remain optimistic, otherwise I would be in politics. I hope that the EU will have changed the membership of Kosovo.

I do not believe that the constraints and cuts (austerity) are the only possible form of economic policies. In my opinion, we need a social Europe and solidarity. Today, the EU is seeking to redefine its place in a world that has become multipolar, but it must be reorganized from within, and do not believe that the Lisbon Treaty or Constitution constitute sufficient funds. It is sometimes said that the EU is slipping right, but paradoxically, when Kosovo will join, it will make a big step to the left. Our state currently operates under an ultra-liberal model that many violate community rules.

It should also be noted that the integration process is currently zero, because five EU member states still do not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Greece, Romania and Slovakia sometimes appear ready to move positively; but Cyprus and Spain remain in their positions due to their internal problems. The problem is that our diplomacy relies too much on the support of the United States only.And this inhibits us to others. We must develop our diplomacy to increase the recognition of our independence.

PI: How do you see the EU more widely and what you bring it?

AK: By 1999, we were in prison. As were political prisoners, with Belgrade as a doorman. Then, when we found under the international protectorate after the war, we were like patients in a hospital. We were patient and had to be “patient”, we knew to expect when doctors – which means international officials – will give the appropriate yield drugs. Doctors promise that we will emerge quickly from the hospital, but never give us the date.

It makes 17 years that remain trapped in the hospital … And the moment you leave the hospital, you are not yet free, you have to go to school. For me, the process of EU integration seems like an apprenticeship (practice); Kosovo students in the role of the EU and the role of professor. However, a student is not always happy in school! Us much remains to be learned to ensure our diploma, but that Kosovo must therefore provide it.

These comparisons apply to the political situation. On the economy, I believe that the situation resembles more what happens in nature. Lion and rabbit live there together, but do not eat rabbit never played. However, they constantly repeat the same slogan: “the chances are equal.” Chances were almost equal between the lion and rabbit, or between Kosovo and Germany or France ….For me, Kosovo can not stand as the only liberal globalization. European integration is therefore the lesser evil. We are part of the European continent and our country is in the EU. Today, the nation-state model remains appropriate, although it is not sufficient.

PI: You protect Kosovo’s European prospects, but however many selections have criticized EU policy in the Balkans!

AK: That’s right. For too long, the EU’s common denominator, a short-term appointment was “stability”. For the EU there are three key words (key-ëords): peace, security, stability. But what Self wants is a complete change of paradigm. We ask three things: justice, democracy, development.

I am not against peace, security or stability; but the only way to achieve these goals is to strengthen justice, democracy and development. Until now, to ensure peace, security and stability; The international community has tolerated corruption of political elites in Kosovo, but that the people is willing to flood the existing condition. I’m very optimistic. Popular revolt that has shaken the country for a few months is the result of great frustration that grew after the war.

Living under a dictatorship not henceforth regarded as something acceptable, nor to live under an “authoritarian democracy”. This and is why I think it will fall from the throne all authoritarian rulers in the Balkans – in Kosovo, but also in Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia. Today, the ruling coalition is eager for residents to have only one desire: to escape. The winter of 2014-2015, about 100,000 Kosovars left the country for a few months. But not everyone will go and people will end up returning shpindën these authoritarian rulers.

PI: Did not the last experience of Syriza in Greece the best proof that it is very difficult to overcome the rules of the European Union?

AK: I think that Greece is heavily dependent on Brussels. Such a situation would not have been able to be produced in Sweden or Great Britain, who have not given up their national currencies for the euro. Otherwise, Alexis Tsipras and Yanis Varoufakis have underestimated the severity of Germany.

If they had better calculated, they would have embraced a different strategy than confrontation. To my mind, the Self, are more aware of the potential brutality of the great powers. Then, Greece has also pletorike a middle class which is not ready to relinquish its privileges.

In Kosovo, the social situation is much more critical and almost no middle class! The population is no need for much more employment than to protect its rights. Paradoxically, this makes us less vulnerable,: no matter how bad they are, the austerity measures taken by the EU are less harmful than the capture of national wealth from those who govern Kosovo since the war.

PI: The country’s economic development is a priority for you. Love disconnect from the model followed since 1999, but how?

AK: We have to make a balance of what is made almost 17 years. To develop Kosovo must forego some liberal orientations, rely on mineral resources, including in coal; to promote local agricultural and industrial products so that we do not need to import anything, simultaneously improving the business climate. Today, the ratio of export-import exchange is 1 to 10.

This is not sustainable. Kosovo survives only through remittances from the diaspora. According to official data, in 2015, Kosovars have injected 620 million euros from the Diaspora in state coffers, a figure that does not take into account the money paid cash directly from abroad or other benefits.

Indeed, it is estimated that the diaspora invests one billion euros annually in Kosovo, which represents about two thirds of the annual state budget, which is around 1.5 billion. But these early migration should not be used only to buy good abroad, but to serve the development of economic activities in Kosovo.There are other resources that will be able to mobilize, privatizations have brought 600 million euro that is currently sleeping in the coffers of foreign banks and 1.2 billion euros in the hands of the Pension Fund. We want to mobilize all these resources to develop the economy.

Vetevendosje Movement is greatly influenced by Ha-Joon Chang, an economist who teaches at the University of Cambridge. In his work, Ha-Joon Chang explains that the development can be helped from outside, but must always be initiated from within. He recalls that 90% of foreign investments directed to already developed countries. Unlike what most try to convince you that twenty years of Balkan political representatives; Then there are foreign investments that enable the development of a country, but the country achieve development that makes it attractive for foreign investment. We believe that the state should not konrollojë economy, but should not be content just being a spectator. To make an analogy to cinema, the role of the state is the actor and screenwriter he a bit, but not as a filmmaker … and the spectator!

The state should encourage, support, managing to give an orientation to economic action, without checking it. By Ha-Joon Chang, the state should cooperate with the business environment, but avoiding a very close relationship. Officially, we have a market with free competition and not distorted, but in reality, the power is much too close to the business environment. Kosovo needs something similar to the New Deal.

PI: Want to focus on the development of local production. How is this possible while Kosovo produces little, knowing that there are limited internal market and that will have to follow the rules of free trade, which means its EU rapprochement? 

AK: Kosovo SAA agreement signed with the European Union, after lengthy negotiations, on October 27, 2015, provides a transitional period to protect local products. It is essential to refer to this mechanism. Also we need to send a strong message to foreign investors; starting from the Diaspora, to come to Kosovo. The business environment is so bad that diaspora prefer to invest elsewhere in Kosovo. Today, the chambers of commerce of Kosovo, first and foremost develop policy.

They must therefore change mentalities, should talk to businessmen without political bias. Today, when someone begins to gain in Kosovo, he must negotiate with government and giving bribes. We will also give late pharaonic projects with costs inflated as highways built by the Turkish-American consortium “Bechtel-Enka” under very suspicious. We also want to restore fiscal leveling system with a simple goal: to reduce taxes for those who invest in Kosovo. Equally, they will create jobs, will have fiscal advantages. It is time to act. It expects this population of Kosovo.

PI: Many initiatives have been undertaken since the establishment of the international protectorate in 1999, in an effort to development of domestic production, but did not provide promising results. If you take the example of agriculture, today, the counters are found almost exclusively imported products, because products are not competitive Kosovo. How do you change this situation? Are you willing to take protective measures?

AK: You’d better be used non-tariff barriers and the principle of reciprocity in our trade exchanges. Specifically, this means that a specific entry contingent of foreign goods, so that local production. To date, Kosovo is treated as a ghetto.Ghetto think it should at least be better organized! We want to apply the same rules with the European Union. For example, distributed Brussels 1/3 of its budget on agriculture, but in Kosovo, it is only 2%!

PI: Kosovo is using the euro. Do you think we should change the currency?

AK: We must be aware that the European Union may suspend us in every moment of the right to use the euro. Surely this is an unlikely hypothesis, but must have in mind, because we have no mastery over this currency … Perhaps it would be more prudent, safer, to use the Albanian lek.

PI: You pose as a proponent of “Greater Albania”. Do you think that Kosovo would join Albania interest?

AK: I think that Albania and Kosovo can be complementary to each other.Albania has access to the sea, there are mountains and important water resources. Kosovo has fertile land and mineral resources. Our union will between Kosovo and Albania has nothing to do with a nationalist project or in the past; he is first and foremost an economic project, together, Albania and Kosovo would be more powerful to resist globalization.

This could help us otherwise in the process of integration into the European Union, knowing that Albania is officially a candidate country since June 2014. It should be noted that the merger will be a project that is not transferred by elites, subject to international dictates, but the popular classes. This is positive: it is not a movement imposed from the top, but one that comes from the people suvalë.

PI: Do not, however, the project is in danger again destabilize the Balkans?  

AK: This was the main concern when Kosovo declared independence in 2008. We said that Serbs would flee massively, which would threaten the independence of balances, already very fragile region, etc. None of this happened. Realistically, the risk of instability stems from the policies pursued separately in connection with the Albanian minority in various countries in the region. In my opinion, unification of all Albanians in the Balkans could have happened once circa 1991-1992, when Yugoslavia disintegrated and collapsed while the communist regime in Albania.

A çerekshekull later, this option does not seem very realistic yet. Union of Albania and Kosovo is another project that will be realized on the basis of a referendum for self-determination and that there would be consequences to other States of the region, where Albanians live, like Macedonia or Montenegro.

PI: What are your models and political references?

AK: In Self, do not have clearly established theoretical model. To be honest, quite experiment. We try to be close to the people, but by kudjesur not stumble into a form populism. We try not to be too dogmatic and privilegjojmë more action than theory. To repeat the words of the philosopher Kosovo Hoti, missing since the war ended in May 1999, “politics is the ratio between the revolution and the institution.”

Of course we are trying to develop relationships with other entities in the Balkans and left in Europe. We have good relations with major social democratic parties, especially with the Albanian Socialist Party, which is currently in power. I have developed a contact time with the different currents of the left in Serbia, but to be honest, prevents most “jugonostalgjia” them, not build new paths to the future by repeating the past!

PI: Do you think that will be able to fill the expectations that are creating?

AK: We do not exclude the possibility of failing. We may fail to gain power and can fail, especially after you take it. Kosovars have many hopes on self-determination; But one day, when we come into government, we need to face reality. The disappointment of the population is very large. Jetësojmë must therefore everything to revive the state, to fight corruption that is it causes gangrene Kosovo institutions, and to reduce unemployment. How can you not be able parashpërthyese a country that has 60% unemployment of its youth?

PI: Kosovo is recognized for practicing Islam tolerant, but considering the lack of prospects for the future of her youth, not afraid of the risk of a radical escalation?

AK: Self-Determination Movement constitutes the only alternative to this scenario, quite real. VV summarize excluded, disenchanted ultraliberale policies by offering a concrete political project. It gives hope to end the illegal occupation and corrupt elites who govern Kosovo after the war.

Insisting on the affirmation of the Albanian nation, Self shows that the nation is more important than religion; whether Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox. Hamas would not have been able to impose on Palestine never saw the failure of Fatah. Similarly in Kosovo, where religious extremism could not be imposed without the failure of all political projects. And that is why we must not.

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