FRIDAY 23 November 2007 at 20:30 CET

Interviews on Kosovo status negotiations

INTERVIEW WITH ANTONIO MISSIROLI, BALKAN ANALYST AND LAZAR ELENOVSKI, MACEDONIAN MINISTER OF DEFENCE

Full transcript

INTERVIEW WITH ANTONIO MISSIROLI

00:00 Cutaways of the European institutions in Brussels

00:28 Beginning of the interview

“The impression is that the 27 are realizing that the Ahtisaari scenario is not going to materialize and one of the side effects could be unilateral action by, not just the Kosovars, but also other players in the region. And the warning is one whereby full unilateralism, a declarative unilateralism, could be counterproductive. This means that there is a certain acceptance of the fact that the situation is evolving in a direction that is potentially dangerous for everybody, but also that there are probably margins for managing this transition in a way that is bearable by the regional security situation. It’s very difficult to define at this stage but it seems to me that what the EU is asking for is moderation, postponement and joint management of whatever is going to happen in the next weeks and months.”

01:33 “The impression I have is that over the past six months, that’s six months of supplementary negotiations for the final status, there have been many, many talks among the 27 as to how to manage plan B or plan C or whatever it is. We all know there is consensus over the Ahtisaari scenario, but the Ahtisaari scenario is less than ever likely to materialize. Therefore other options are to be considered. These months have been used in order to show a willingness to consider other solutions or sub solutions and also in order to talk all 27 on how to proceed in case the situation unravels. So my sensation is that the 27 are better prepared now to confront a difficult situation than they were 6 months ago. This doesn’t mean, or is not a guarantee that there will be unity whatever happens in the region.”

02:32 “That will probably depend also on what happens elsewhere in the region. Because if the issue was limited to Kosovo and the ramifications could be limited to Kosovo or relations between Kosovo and Serbia, I think the other 27 could be ready to go for some form of reluctant acceptance or constructive abstention. But of course what is reasonably clear at this stage is that it is very difficult that the repercussions will be limited to Kosovo. There could be repercussions in Bosnia, the situation is evolving in a very negative direction. And therefore I think that the fronts are more fuzzy than you may think at this stage because if there is a risk of a general unravelling on the situation in the region, then the fronts could change a little bit. But this doesn’t mean necessarily that the EU will be more split. I think there is certain awareness that there is a lot at stake for the EU now in the Balkans, in particular in the months to come. And therefore before going for explicit and overt divisions on the issue they will think twice or thrice.”

03:43 “The interesting or intriguing thing about the Ischinger proposal is that it is based on the experience made by the two Germanies during the Ostpolitiek, the treaty between the two states kept the legal status of Germany as such untouched. And that is what allowed instantly in 1990 for the country to unify under international law because otherwise it would have been much more difficult. In the meantime it allowed for intergerman trade to develop. By raising that option, Ambassador Ischinger, on behalf of the EU, signalled two things: that on the one hand there could be legal solutions that make the likely managed independence of Kosovo acceptable to all the players in the region, especially on the front of international law which is a very difficult issue. But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, that any solution in the region has to look not just on the narrow issue of status of Kosovo, but on the broader set of reconciliation in the region, which is probably a pre-condition or an accompanying measure for its integration in the EU. After all, European integration was also an act of reconciliation, especially between Franceand Germany. And it is difficult to see how it should not be the same for the Balkans when they are allowed to enter the EU in a few years time.”

05:13 “It is a matter of assessing the current situation. The current situation is a lose-lose situation and the International Community thinks it is not good for either side that the situation continues like that. So if any change brings benefits basically to all side, maybe not in the short term, but certainly on the long term, I think that is the time horizon that has to be taken into consideration, there may be hickups in the short term, they are I suppose taken into consideration, that is why a number of accompanying measures and framework agreements are considered in this particular respect, but this is the kind of situation that can evolve in a positive way or rather unravel. Of course all eyes are now on preventing the worse from happening.”

06:01 “This is a possibility; it is certainly something that is taken into account by all the players in the region and outside the region. It will very much depend if this is going to happen, on how all these decisions are taken, not only in terms of management but also in terms of timing. It is not unconceivable that a managed declaration of independence sets the actual entering of force of the independence some time from now, that would buy additional time to prepare for a soft landing, that might be at this stage a sort of emergency landing but with predictable outcomes.”

06:40 “My impression is that yet again the conditionality of Mladic has already softened the law over the past months and years and that the EU would maybe just be happy to locate Mladic at some point in time in order to come to a signature of the SAA. Mladic is also a symbolic issue so that is why it is particularly difficult for the EU just to set it aside entirely. But maybe some reasonable compromises and save facing solutions are envisageable in this respect. So, those who insist on Mladic are also some of those who would then be very ready to be forthcoming vis-à-vis Serbiaon a number of issues. So, yet again considering the variety of positions that exist inside Serbia, not just inside EU, there is still potential for a virtuous circle in this respect, compared to the difficulties of the situations whereas there is possibility also for a vicious circle of retaliation and rapture at this level.”

INTERVIEW WITH LAZAR ELENOVSKI MACEDONIAN MINISTER OF DEFENCE

08:16 Cutaways of NATO Headquarters in Brussels

08:44 Beginning of interview

“We have said many times that we live in a very different region than it was very few years ago; it’s stable, it’s towards euro-atlantic integration. All the countries, all the nations in the Balkans finally have the same interest and goals, and that is the euro-Atlantic integration. In this spirit, we are building our common relations and our regional co-operation, so it’s much different than it the past, we don’t feel or see any direct security threat when we consider the military conflicts, no military conflict can appear in the Balkans.”

09:29 “We’re expecting that the region will see the solution on the final status of Kosovo. We had from 1999 a status quo position that only undermines the efforts of the democratic forces to build a democratic society. And we would like to see a solution in the sense of the Ahtisaari proposal and for that we agree it’s very important that the EU has a common voice and we believe that together with our strategic partners from North America, which will mean in general the Atlantic family, will accept one very important solution and it will be the future of Kosovo, and the future of the region, because the region is very different as I mentioned, all the nations have the same interest and goals and that is the Euro-Atlantic integration. So we see this as only one issue towards the general and the common future of ours in the region and that is the euro Atlantic integration.”

10:52 “First, we would like to hear one voice of the EU together with Americaand we will build our decision and position considering and in cooperation with our partners in the Allianceand the EU”

11:12 “It is also an issue that we should seriously consider, but we agreed that as Kosovo is the case, similarly we have too long of a status quo of the Daytonagreement. It was good for the settlement of the peace, for the beginning of the progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina and for some development, but it is clear that we need to upgrade the Dayton agreement so all the nations, communities and citizens of BH should find some more realistic solution, because we are speaking about too many levels of functioning for one state, which is very much complicating the situation in BH, but we believe that BH is a country that has a future, we are supporting. It was in all our framework of regional cooperation and for example in the Adriatic Charter we always invite BH and in all their regional initiatives, when we speak about defence initiatives such as South-eastern Defence Ministerial, just two weeks ago, BH got full membership in the initiative, so we would like to continue in this sense that BH continues and it is more and more integrated with all institutions, regional and international.”

13:01 On the border issue between Macedoniaand Kosovo: “We agreed that this is a technical question and another reason why we support the Ahtisaari plan is because this is very well framed, the whole process of demarcation of the borderline, which we agreed with the proposal of Mr Ahtisaari.”

13:20 On the police action in Macedonia against criminal groups (Brodec) “The reactions from the international community, from NATO and EU, were very positive because it was clear that it was a very professional action from the Ministry of Interior, we are talking about fighting organised crime and corruption in that sense, this action against criminal groups n the border, and it’s very important for us as Macedonia, because we are building a multiethnic society and it was a multiethnic force from many different communities of the Macedonian society that were involved in the action. It is clear that we are speaking about the legal principles and on the other side organised crime. So it was a fight against organised crime and not about interethnic relations.”

14:14 Cutaways

14:45 END OF TRANSMISSION