Guess who came to dinner

Shpend Limoni of Kosovo’s Gazeta Express asked some questions last Thursday, so I answered:

1. Kosovo’s Foreign Minister attended a regional conference in Belgrade becoming a first high level official to visit Serbia since Kosovo declared independence. This comes after incidents that took place during the football match in Belgrade. How do you comment on these events?

DPS: It is a good thing that the Foreign Minister attended a regional conference in Belgrade. This is part of normalizing relations between neighbors. I hope such visits, both to Belgrade and Pristina, will become routine.

2. Is it a bit strange having in the same time the wave of nationalism and harsh statements caused by a football match and good neighborly relations at the conference in Belgrade? How do you explain this?

DPS: In any democratic society there are people with a wide range of views. The football stadium is not necessarily where you find the more moderate ones. It is important that more moderate political leaders lean towards understanding and cooperation, whatever happens on the pitch. The wars are over. It is time for peace and prosperity.

3. President Jahjaga also received an invitation to attend a conference in Belgrade. Do you think that President should go to Belgrade?

DPS: President Jahjaga should certainly go to Belgrade at some point, but presidents usually go to conferences only if other, or former, presidents are there. And they generally expect government officials to handle conferences that fall clearly within the competence of the government, which is certainly the case for “EU accession” [the subject of the conference in question]. Presidents Jahjaga and Nikolic have met—in Ashton’s office last year—but we should also expect that they will someday meet bilaterally in Belgrade and Pristina.

4. How do you see the political deadlock in Kosovo, do you think it could be settled soon with a new coalition as suggested by Senator Murphy during his visit in Kosovo or we will have new elections?

DPS: I have no idea. New elections are expensive and time consuming. But waiting for a solution with the current election results isn’t proving fast either. One of the really nice things about democracy is that representatives of Kosovo citizens will decide this issue, no matter what the views of professors or senators in Washington, DC. I do hope they decide it soon, as Kosovo needs a new parliament and the government it will approve to get on with the state’s business. Citizens are entitled to that.

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