Kurti Encourages Greece to Recognize Kosovo, Rejects ‘Non- Papers’ on Border Exchanges

Greece’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence would be proof that Athens is ready to play a leading regional role in the Balkans, said Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti in an exclusive interview with To Vima on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Kurti, who was in Athens recently for “The Economist Conference” and had a brief meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is clearly against a territorial swap with Serbia and the redrawing of borders in the Balkans. He also stresses that the status of Kosovo has been permanently settled and the dialogue with Belgrade concerns only the future relationship between the two countries.

Asked about main priorities of his government both domestically and externally Kurti said the focus is on two basic and most urgent priorities: managing the pandemic aiming to minimize consequences on the public health and reforms in the justice system. “On the economic front in the first five months of this year we have recorded some very positive and promising results. Our economic activity has increased by 15%, our budget revenues by 30%, exports by 66% and for this year we project economic growth by 7.9%. We have also designed an economic revival package with 1.1 billion euro contributions to our economy,” he said.

In a comment on the talks between Serbia and Kosovo in the context of the Belgrade – Pristina Dialogue facilitated by the EU, the PM said Kosovo seeks to resolve outstanding issues with the neighbors through dialogue. “We will only be able to fix the relations in the Balkans with a principled and well-prepared dialogue, founded on European values. The independence of Kosovo is thirteen years old,” he said, adding that they cannot permit the revival of failed projects for territorial exchange nor those for the Bosnianization of Kosovo. “Serbia should now distance itself from the Milosevic regime, and not insist that in some way it continues to achieve the old goals, with new means. The only subject is the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia.”

Kurti was categorical against land swap saying it is best to respond to all these “Non papers” with “No Comment” because through answering them they are trying to come to life. “We must move towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Kosovo has no dilemmas. The EU and NATO are both our values and our destination. Knowing that the current regional framework cannot prepare us for EU accession, in Tirana Summit I have proposed that we upgrade CEFTA to SEFTA (South East European Free Trade Agreement) based on the EFTA - EEA model which would elevate the whole region and overcome current obstacles.”

Recently, Greece’s Foreign Minister Dendias visited Pristina. Your liaison office in Athens has been upgraded but formal diplomatic recognition is still lacking. Are you optimistic this will take place, are you in talks with the Greek side about this? Is there a timeframe?

In conclusion the government head of Kosovo expressed gratefulness to Greece for its support and positive attitude towards the Republic of Kosovo in the integration processes in both the region and Europe and he highly appreciated the constructive attitude towards his country, which Greece has proved again with the support given in favor of visa liberalization for the citizens of Kosovo.

“Greece needs to be with the people of Kosovo and give the hand of support. Greece and Kosovo should strengthen their own independent relationship due to the long common history, the common goal of stability and peace in the Balkans and the long common future,” said Kurti.

The head of the government said Kosovo wants to build on the historic ties between the peoples and foster long term brotherly relations with Greece, also as an important element of long-term regional stability. Given Greece’s regional weight, as well as the spirit of cooperation in the region, Kosovo would welcome the decision to recognize it, said Kurti, who concluded by saying that the recognition would be essential evidence of the regional leadership role that Greece should play. /argumentum.al