From: Ilva Tare
Tensions in Mitrovica Shows Chapters in Balkans Still Open, Says Kosova’s ex-Foreign Minister

Petrit Selimi, former Foreign Minister of Kosova, said in the latest episode of #BalkansDebrief with Ilva Tare that the shootings in the northern border of Kosova with Serbia were a vocal reminder of the unresolved issues between two countries.

“The chapters in Balkans are still open that Kosova and Serbia issue is still open and that details and issues unresolved, even if they sound very small, like on license plates for car registrations may still be inflamed and may explode into an all out conflict”, stressed Selimi.

He suggested that the format of the sponsored dialogue form the EU and the US should be revised and bring a concrete proposal on the table, which will put an end to the current status-quo.

“We have experiences from Rambouillet, we have experiences from Vienna process with Ahtisari. My proposal would be from leaving on two sides to take the initiative, for the Western countries and Western powers, namely Brussels in Washington, but reinforced by London, Berlin, Paris and the Quint countries to put something on table that would make sense that would close current open chapters and that would ensure that both countries are left with the open path towards EU and in Kosova’s case EU Atlantic integration”, continued Selimi.

Asked about the Albanian Prime Minister condemnation of the violence in northern part of Kosova and urging President Vucic not to provide alibi for the nationalistic Serbian groups, along with an invitation for Kosova’s Prime Minister to join the Open Balkan initiative and continue the dialogue, Selimi noted that when it comes to the Open Balkan there are mixed feeling about Rama in Prishtina.

“I think it’s fair to say that Prishtina has mixed feelings towards prime minister Rama. In many cases, he has been a very staunch supporter of Kosovo, internationally in NATO, in other fields economically there’s been a lot of increase of trade and economic exchange with Albania, but on the issue of Open Balkans, it’s fair to say that the most Kosovars object to it. I think some of objections are fundamentally correct,” he noted.

Selimi added that Kosova should also consider joining regional initatives.

“Because if Bosnia and Serbia don’t recognize existence of Kosova how can we talk about open borders if we need to get visas to go to Sarajevo? How can we talk about open trade?  So unless there is a bilateral closure of open issues, it’s very difficult to do regional project and regional piece and regional exchange of goods and people. On the other hand, I think PM Rama of Albania should play a role in promoting regional cooperation, they have not been part of former Yugoslav wars directly. They are members of NATO. Albania is known to be a country of interfaith religion rather tolerant regional politics. So I think also in Kosova we should be mindful that we cannot only say no to all regional organizations  and initiatives.”said Petrit Selimi.

Ilva Tare, is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington. She is now hosting Balkans Debrief, a new talk show presented by the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center.

Balkans Debrief features in-depth analysis and exclusive insights with policymakers and key players on subjects impacting more than 18 million people.