The Monitor spoke with President Fatmir Sejdiu earlier this month.
What has Kosovo learned over the past year ?
This has been a year of great development.... Kosovo is proving that it can maintain itself as a state, and this is directly linked to its ongoing formation of institutions. To get to this point, we had to make sacrifices. We went through three years of negotiations for status.... [T]here was a great deal of support from the European Union and the United States. And some did not support us. The Russian Federation blocked our progress in the UN Security Council.
We have opened 10 embassies and plan to open several more. We've been recognized by the major states in our region, with the exception of Serbia and Greece. Three-fourths of EU members recognize us, and seven of the G-8 nations call us a state.
What are the main challenges?
We've had a delay in the start of the EU mission … but this is now moving as of Dec. 9.... Unfortunately, Serbia continues with an irrational approach, and, unfortunately, the parallel structures that have appeared are causing trouble. Serbia spends €200 million a year to support these enclaves. The worst part is that Serbia is breeding the illusion that the status of Kosovo isn't concluded....
I believe that Serbia and the Belgrade government should prove that they are true Europeans – hand over the war criminals still left and look to the future. I've always said that all previous governments have known where the indicted Serbs are staying. Serbia should have no place in the EU while it is holding these criminals, not in the EU or NATO.
We don't think that Belgrade has the political courage to move away from their unconstructive approach. But Kosovo is accelerating its integration. We can't forget what we have been through as a people, but we are ready in the Western Balkans to leave aside these experiences for regional cooperation.
Does the U.N. plan that appears to legitimize Serb parallel structures violate your Constitution?
Yes ... so it is unacceptable for us. We already had the [former Finnish President Martti] Ahtisaari plan, which we agreed to. So we have constantly objected to the UN plan, and still do.