Honourable members of the Podgorica Club, Excellencies, former Presidents and former Prime Ministers, members of UPF, friends and participants!
The Podgorica Club and UPF share their concerns about the current situation in Europe and especially in the Western Balkans. The perspective in the region appears gloomy and unclear. Destabilisation and even war could easily reach our region.
This situation with its many unforeseen occurrences could even be stimulated by the brutal and meaningless aggression of Russia against Ukraine, which without much effort could be transferred to the delicate region of the Western Balkans. The hotspots of this region are Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, but it seems that problems are arising even in Montenegro.
This is for these reasons that the Podgorica Club and UPF have raised their concerns about the future of the Western Balkans. Our region is familiar with the events that have occurred in the past.
In such situations, our region is known for its lack of humanism and great lack of responsibility on the side of some political leaders, but there is another factor that has recently become evident, and that is the religions factor.
The European Union, with the recent persuasion and support of the United States, has taken a few steps that seem to be promising and serious, but we need to wait and see for the results.
I am personally unsatisfied with the recent actions of the EU. I do not find it serious that two people, who come from countries that have not recognised Kosovo as an independent state, have been assigned to resolve this important issue. Not only that, the Prime Minister of Spain, during a visit in Belgrade, stated that declaring Kosovo´s independence was an illegal act. This shows a lack of seriousness from a leader of an important EU country that not only does not recognise the decision of the Human Rights Court, but also considers it illegal; the court that has considered Kosovo´s independence totally legal.
Then the question arises: why do we have such institutions, why do we invest in keeping them and how can we progress in this way?
Even President Putin is trying to act in the same way with some European countries, by tempting important politicians to side with his actions.
I have the impression that not all EU member states have understood how hazardous the situation is in the Balkans and especially in Kosovo. Having said that, I do not mean that no effort has been and are not being made, but we do not yet have the expected results.
Time cannot wait, especially in such a situation where since eight months there is a war in Ukraine with no end yet in sight. Under these circumstances, it is in President Putin´s interest that a new hotspot be created in Europe, which could lead to an armed conflict. The situation in Kosovo is aggravated these days and it was the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs who raised his voice and supported Serbia.
The former delegate of the European Union, Wolfgang Ischinger, in the negotiations on Kosovo´s status during a conference in Pristina about security, said that the Western Balkans is the only region in Europe that has explosive potential, due to its history and other reasons; which is completely correct.
Serbia´s president Vucic keeps carrying on the old tradition of sitting in two chairs, i.e. continuing with his brother, Russia, and keeping ties with Europe as well, following the tactic of not letting go of either side, which has proved to work so far.
According to some evaluations of western researchers, president Vucic does not aim to make Serbia an EU member state, or make systematic social reforms and adapt the standards and values of EU member states, but rather he aims to create a Mise-en-scène that hides his purpose, that is in keeping with his autocratic leadership style and value system similar to that of Russia.
This is the reason why he is not looking for a solution for Kosovo, despite his active participation in this deceiving game of dedication and finding a solution, while indeed all he does is try to gain time, hoping for new geopolitical changes that could be in his favour.
Word has it that in the coming days there will be a final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. I truly wish for such a solution, but I am pessimistic about it.
In my opinion, as I mentioned above, the reason for this is that president Vucic wants to continually remain in power and become a little Putin in the Balkans. And to achieving that, he seeks support not only from Russia, but also from the Serbian population as well, especially the rural one, that provides him with his main support.
Thus, if we truly desire that the Western Balkans joins the EU and becomes a stabilised and peaceful region, the tactics for dealing with president Vucic have to be changed. He has to be told to step down. Otherwise, we are wasting time, not knowing what may happen in the future.
Dear friends, please do not misunderstand me! I am not a nationalist troublemaker; I try to be as realistic as I can, in order to find the best possible way to turn this corner of Europe into a safe, peaceful and sustainable region.
But as I said before, Europe has to change its tactics; it should not provoke, but ask for honesty and determination.
There is a need for compromise. I understand and am aware that there need to be bilateral cooperation and compromise in order to find a solution.
However, who offered compromise in 1912-1913 during the Balkan wars when these lands were occupied and annexed with fire and iron, just as president Putin is acting now in Ukraine? I did not mention this to recall the past, but if we speak about compromise, we should not forget how this situation came about, how two million Albanians found themselves detached from their fatherland, because president Vucic is not asked to give away parts of old Serbia, and neither do I intend to denigrate Serbians that live in Kosovo, but to give back a right that was forcefully taken away in the past.
I do not want to dig up the 100 years history of Albanians’ suffering and slavery under the regime of the Serbian kingdom and much more. Saying this, I do not mean we have to forget the past, because to this day there is no information about the corpses of 1400 Albanians of Kosovo, so that they could be buried by their families and be taken care of following the human and civilised tradition of Europe. The past can be forgiven, but not forgotten, at least not by the relatives and dear ones.
What I mean is that there is a need for greater care, because excessive tolerance does not help in calming the situation, on the contrary it may lead to undesirable consequences.
0n 29 September, together with some other colleagues from the Republic of Albania and Kosovo, we visited The Hague to meet some of the leaders of the KLA (the Kosovo Liberation Army) that are imprisoned there and falsely charged with committing war crimes, such as taking and selling the organs of the Serbian hostages and prisoners during the war.
I am not mentioning here their spiritual state and our feelings in face of this injustice, but I am saying that they have been there for two years and have not been indicted. Tell me please, in which European country have you seen or heard of such a case?
Nowhere. This is all done in order to please the ones that for a century have done all sorts of unimaginable things to the innocent Albanians of Kosovo. All this is only because they fought their conquerors and wanted to live in freedom in their ancestral land. So far, all of this is based on a report by Dick Martin that was simply a contrivance, without any facts as to what has been said or required. Rightfully, the Albanian parliament and government have urged Europe to remedy immediately this shameless contrivance. And I repeat my request from this honourable gathering; it is an unnecessary stain on the European consciousness. I translate it this way: we make a wolf out of the lamb and a lamb out of the wolf.
Needless to say, Albanians disagree with this approach, and Europe should also do so.
I thank the Austrian Institute for European Security and Cooperation for allowing this fruitful conference to take place, addressing a very sensitive issue for our region.
I thank UPF for its support and fruitful cooperation for the sake of peace in the Western Balkans.
Thank you for your attention!