By Linda Karadaku
Partitioning Kosovo is not an option and Pristina has a legitimate right to govern the north, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker said on Wednesday (August 17th).
“Kosovo is a sovereign, independent country and has the right to extend its authority throughout its country,” he told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in Pristina. “This is about rule of law, which is such a fundamental, key concept not just here, but throughout all of Europe.”
“What we need to do is to see lawlessness put out of the north or any part of Kosovo or the region,” Reeker said, adding that all citizens would benefit as a result. “What has to be done is focus on establishing rule of law and institutions of government to help people to live more productive, more prosperous and secure lives that they are entitled to as citizens of this country.”
As for the idea of dividing the predominantly Serb-populated enclaves in the north from the rest of Kosovo, Reeker said it was not under consideration.
“We have seen in other countries in the region, borders are set; there are not going to be changes of borders,” the diplomat said. “US policy is very clear on that subject. Our colleagues, including the German foreign minister, were also very clear on that subject,” he said. The German minister, Guido Westerwelle, said earlier this month that his country would oppose any attempt at partition.
“For us it is clear that the situation and territorial integrity in this region is decided; this means this is out of discussion for us,” Westerwelle said. He also confirmed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will pass on the same message during a visit to Serbia later this month.
Likewise, French Ambassador to Kosovo Jean François Fitou has ruled out the idea of separating the north.
“There will be no division,” he said. “What we should see as important is the implementation of the Ahtisaari Package, fighting smuggling and organised crime, establishment of the rule of law and working for the integration of Kosovo into the EU.”
According to Kosovo political analyst Belul Beqaj, the statements by Reeker and other diplomats represent “a clarification of the position of the international community towards the territorial integrity of Kosovo and its sovereignty”.
He said the EU has not achieved a unified position with regard to Kosovo and this was reflected in the northern crisis, as well as the ongoing issue of recognitions. “It caused unclarity and confusion,” Beqaj told SETimes.
Thaci, meanwhile, has vowed to press ahead with efforts to establish governance by Pristina institutions, “making the courts functional, disbanding the criminal structures, and fighting the rest of the negative phenomena in that part of the territory of the Republic of Kosovo.”
“This is to the benefit of all the citizens of Kosovo, without ethnic distinction. It is to the best of economical development, integration, peace and stability in the region,” the prime minister said on Wednesday.