David Lidington: Independence of Kosovo is an established fact and there can be no going back

The President of Republic of Kosovo, Dr. Fatmir Sejdiu, received today the UK Minister for Europe, Mr. David Lidington.

Having expressed the appreciation of the people and institutions of Republic of Kosovo for the continuous support that the United Kingdom has and is still providing to Kosovo, President Sejdiu congratulated the Minister on his new assignment and expressed his high consideration for the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Her Highness Queen Elisabeth.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Kosovo Mr. Skënder Hyseni also attended the meeting.

President Sejdiu and Minister David Lidington discussed current processes that Kosovo is going through, challenges ahead and good results achieved thus far.

“As always, we expressed our commitment to ensuring that Kosovo is and remains a home to all the people, regardless of their ethnicity; that Kosovo is willing to move swiftly towards Euro-Atlantic integration processes and that Kosovo lays a viable foundation of legislative corpus to attract foreign investment and facilitate an accelerated economic growth”, President Sejdiu pointed out.

He also mentioned the fact that Kosovo maintains good relations with its neighbors and is interested to have good relations with the Republic of Serbia as well.

“I believe that the future will be in favor of this, regardless of an irrational and apprehensive approach to Kosovo that Republic of Serbia has adopted so far ”, President Sejdiu said.

On the other hand, concerning the recent elections in the new municipality of Partes, President Sejdiu said that the sizable turnout of Serbian voters in the last elections served as evidence of a good job that institutions of the country, the people and the international community have done to provide for a smooth processes and peaceful and good relations between ethnicities in Kosovo.

At the joint press conference held with Minister David Lidington, President Sejdiu answered journalists’ questions about Kosovo’s “exit strategy” following the ICJ decision, where it was stated that “Kosovo has found its way out on 17 February 2008, when it has joined the family of free nations” and that “the advisory opinion of the ICJ cannot run counter to arguments in favor of the freedom of a people”.

“Kosovo is an independent state and its integrity has been recognized internationally and by the will of its people, and attempts to bargain in various corners or margins are absolutely unacceptable”, President Sejdiu underscored.

Asked by journalists to comment on some newspaper articles claiming that President Sejdiu’s official visit to Malawi was allegedly used to strike certain business deals, President Sejdiu confessed that he has read such articles that he maintained “reflect the approach of the people who can choose what to write in their newspapers”.

“I will remain at the full service of the interests of Republic of Kosovo and will keep my efforts to establish cooperation with various countries throughout the continents for the best of Kosovo and to promote its further international recognition and economic growth”, he pointed out.

“Where are living at times of free market economy; at times when everyone is able to chose with whom to cooperate in terms of serving interests of his people, business community and all others, and such newspaper articles are ridiculous. I am no stranger to such intentions, but this cannot push me off the track of my focus on interests of the country that I represent. At the end of the day, I was accompanied by a good team of people that have kept record of the visit”, President Sejdiu informed.

On the other hand, David Lidington said that this was his first to Kosovo as Minister for Europe in the new British Government.

“I was able to thank the President for his welcome and to pass on to him the personal good wishes of support of my Prime Minister David Cameron and to say to the President that the new British Government will remain resolute in its support for the independence of Kosovo and in its opposition to any talk about partition or revisiting the issue of Kosovo’s status”, he said.

“I was able to congratulate the President on the success of the recent elections in Partes, which strike me as being a very encouraging signal of the developments of the program of decentralization and a signal of hope for the future of Kosovo as a multiethnic democracy. I expressed the hope that the forthcoming opinion of the ICJ would give us the opportunity to  move forward; not to engage in new debates about things which are decided, namely Kosovo’s  independence, but for a dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia about the practical issues that make a difference to the lives of ordinary citizens in both countries. I assured the President that the Government of the United Kingdom looks forward to supporting Kosovo in its ambitions for full membership of both the European Union and NATO and that we will be working  with our European partners and institutions of the European Union to bring about a successful conclusion to that accession process ”, Minister David Lidington stated.

“The independence of Kosovo is an established fact and there can be no going back from that. What Britain is doing is preparing with the EU partners and with Baroness Ashton, Commissioner Fuller and European institutions for what we intend to be a concerted EU response, once the ICJ opinion is known, that will seek to take things forward, to advocate a constructive dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia about practical issues: trade, movement of people...the shared ambition of the two countries for accession to the European Union”, said then David Lidington answering questions posed by journalists.

Further on, asked about the accession of Serbia to the EU, Minister Lidington said that it was very early stage with the process of the EU accession for Serbia. “I think it is difficult to see that there can be a Serbia accession to the EU, if there is still a state of hostility between Serbia and Kosovo. I think the important point to make at this stage is that we in London and other member states are saying to Belgrade that we want you to come fully into the European family, so let us get into a serious conversation about how you do that, and part of that process of normal relations in the modern Europe is about finding peaceful ways for solving disputes with your neighbors, rather than going back to the ways of the past. We are looking to Serbian leaders to engage in a constructive discussion with us about a peaceful way forward. I don’t know how many years it will take, but I hope that one day in our lifetimes the border between Kosovo and Serbia will be every bit as significant as the border between Belgium and Luxemburg”, he underscored.

Asked if it was the right time for EULEX to show some concrete results in the fight against corruption and organized crime, Minister Lidington answered: “I think that it is important that EULEX succeeds. I had a conversation with Yves de Kermabon this morning about EULEX and one of the messages I should be taking back to London is that we need to do some more thinking in Europe about how to strengthen the EULEX mission and the profile of the EULEX in Kosovo, including in the north of Kosovo, where things evidently have been very difficult for EULEX. I hope that it is not long before they can take a higher profile and be more active in the north of Kosovo than they have been able to be up till now. We need to get people, particularly young people, throughout Kosovo, whether they are of Albanian or Serb origin, into jobs; offer them careers to bring some real hope for their futures. We are going to be more successful in attracting investment into this country if there is political stability and if there is clear support everywhere for the rule of law and the fight against corruption”.

“My message would be two things: first of all, that Kosova’s independence is a reality, there is not going to be any going back and that independence has been endorsed freely by the votes of the Kosovar people and that – as Partes elections showed – there are opportunities for people of different ethnic backgrounds to make successful lives for themselves and to govern their own affairs within the context of Kosova Republic ”, Minister Lidington pointed out.