President Thaçi: Agreement with Serbia, necessary for Kosovo’s EU, NATO and UN membership

Prishtina, June 28th – President of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, held today a press conference, after his return from Brussels, where he attended the first meeting of the last stage of the dialogue process on the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

President Thaçi stated that On June 24th, in compliance with his Constitutional mandate, as the President of the Republic of Kosovo, and mediated by the EU’s High representative, Ms. Federica Mogherini, he met in Brussels with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.

This meeting, according to him, marks the commencement of the final stage of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

“At this final stage, we aim for the achievement of an all-encompassing agreement, legally and internationally binding, on normalisation of relations between the two countries and between our nations, building of good neighbourly relations and mutual recognition of our two states”, said the President.

He also added that for more than two decades Kosovo has been asking for dialogue, as sole means for solution to open contests, to the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia. President Thaçi added that during this process Kosovo has been constructive and open to any meeting and any initiative in order to bring to life our citizens aspiration for a better life.

“At this last meeting we were also cooperative in search of modalities  and options on what is possible to be achieved at this process but also to see what is impossible to ne achieved at this last stage of the dialogue.

President announced new forthcoming meetings, in which the substance of the final agreement will be negotiated.

“Initially, we only discussed the frame of the agreement. Nothing more. We are awaiting the invitation of the High Representative Mogherini, for the next meeting, which we expect to take place very soon’ said the President in front of the journalists, and added that what we do know by now is that the final agreement will be legally and internationally binding for all parties.

President Thaçi emphasized that he welcomes the fact that the whole political spectrum in Kosovo, civil society, academic world, has spoken in favour of the dialogue.

‘Political parties, members of the governing coalition and of the opposition, are having an inner political dialogue these days, and I believe that they are at the concluding stages of the reaching of an adequate decision on the manner of their inclusion in this process”, said the President.

According to him, it is essential that the widest possible consensus on the dialogue is achieved as quickly as possible, as the time and the process are moving swiftly, and we cannot afford to stop during this process.

He invited again experts, academics, civil society and media, to become part of this discussion. This, according to him, will ensure the necessary expertise, political and social consensus, and added that another component of this process must be transparency and accountability.

“For this reason, I reiterate, I am ready, as I have been in my previous positions, and now in the position of the President of the Republic of Kosovo, to address the Parliament of Kosovo and inform the members of parliament and the citizens of Kosovo on this final stage of the dialogue process. At the end, the agreement will be submitted to the parliament of Kosovo to receive the seal of approval by the representatives of the people”, said the President.

The head of state expects the talks at this final stage to be hard and difficult, but the achievement of an All-Encompassing agreement with Serbia is necessary for our ambition to become a UN member state, to expedite the process of Kosovo’s integration into European Union and NATO, and to ensure Kosovo’s deserved place in the international stage.

“At the end of the process a mutual recognition must take place. Otherwise, these negotiations would be meaningless”, emphasized Mr. President.

President Thaçi said that Kosovo will, as always, and at this final stage of the dialogue process, enjoy the strong support of the USA, who remains deeply interested in the achievement of the final agreement.

Also, EU and its member states are interested more than ever before, in the achievement of the agreement on normalisation, as a compulsory condition for Kosovo’s and Serbia’s EU membership.

“I would like to assure the citizens of Kosovo that the process will be transparent, accountable and will be led in a responsible institutional manner, and I assure you once again that I will be protecting the interest of Kosovo, as I have done during the whole of my life”, said he.

According to him, there are not going to be any red lines, as there were placed by the Contact Group during the Vienna talks. Only subjects upon which both sides agree will be elaborated, as an opportunity which leads to achievement of a final agreement.

“There will be no other temporary agreement. Parties will not be allowed to condition the negotiations with this or that issue. Final agreement must be designed within the frame of criteria, standards and values of the European perspective”, said the President.

President Thaçi once again called upon the political spectrum, civil society and all interested parties to be included in the dialogue process.

“Battle with Serbia takes place now in the table in Brussels, and not in the dry monologues in TV studios” said he.

President at the end said that refusal to participate at the negotiations is a running away from the battle which must be fought now.