By Fatmir Aliu
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci put his own spin on a EU-brokered deal with Serbia, saying Belgrade had now effectively recognized Kosovo’s statehood.
In a press conference in Pristina on Friday, Thaci said the agreement was not ideal but was in the broad interest of Kosovo.
The principal part of the deal concerns Kosovo’s representation in regional meetings. Under the agreement, Kosovo will be represented at regional forums simply under the name of “Kosovo” but also with a footnote referring both to UN Resolution 1244 and the opinion of the International Court of Justice, ICJ, on Kosovo’s declaration of independence.
“I’m aware that this footnote or formula in the footnote is not the ideal one, but it is the most acceptable one at the moment. But I assure you that this formula is temporary,” the Prime Minister said.
More precisely, the footnote will read: “This label [ie “Kosovo”] does not prejudge the status of Kosovo and is in accordance with Resolution 1244 and the opinion of the ICJ on Kosovo’s declaration of independence.”
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. But Serbia does not recognise the new country and Belgrade has refused to participate in any fora and conferences where Kosovo is represented as an independent country with its own state symbols.
Thaci has been under strong pressure from the public not to compromise on the issue.
Thaci has denied having conceded any key point to Serbia, accusing the opposition of being populist and illogical in its standpoint.
“Kosovo didn’t accept anything [new], since UN Resolution 1244 was and remains in force,” he said.
“It is rather Serbia that made concessions and accepted the independence of Kosovo, by accepting the reference to the opinion of the International Court of Justice, which dealt [favourably] with our declaration of independence,” Thaci said.
“Through this agreement Kosovo has determined itself for integration and not isolation, and the deal does not weaken Kosovo but strengthens it,” Thaci added.
Opposition parties do not agree.
The country’s biggest opposition party, the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, has criticized the compromise formula, saying it would encourage countries to remain neutral on the question of its independent status, which Serbia strongly disputes.
The hard-line nationalist Self-Determination (Vetevendosje) movement said the concessions made to Serbia during the Brussels talks were a serious setback for the country.
The movement, led by Albin Kurti, announced that it would call a street protest against the deal shortly.
The nationalist opposition parties have called on other parties to join the demonstration, and sign a petition that they intend to send to parliament, demanding an extraordinary plenary session to object the Resolution 1244 as a point of reference for Kosovo.
The opposition parties cannot expect much foreign support for their objections. The US ambassador to Kosovo, Christopher Dell, in a recent interview, condemned all those objecting to the outcome of the talks in Brussels “anti-American and anti-European”.