Situation in Kosovo

Mr President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, three things struck me after our last visit to Pristina. Firstly, quite considerable progress has been made in the material situation. Not least, I am pleased to say, because of the good work done by the Reconstruction Agency. Secondly, the United Nations is doing a good job there, albeit hampered not least by excessive bureaucracy. Hardly anything has changed, however, in the heads of the political representatives of the various ethnic groups in Kosovo. That is true of the Serbs, as becomes clear when you look at how little real cooperation there is between the ministers in the Rexhepi government and when you consider that there is still a parallel structure for the Serbs. It is true above all, however, of the representatives of the Albanian majority in Kosovo. With perhaps a few exceptions, which the Commissioner has mentioned, they are unfortunately not yet prepared to agree to a multi-ethnic state, and not only to agree to it verbally but also to make it reality.If you are saying, Commissioner, that we must start negotiating soon, and if Mrs Pack is saying that we must actually negotiate about status and standards simultaneously, then I have to ask you, what are we in the European Union doing to persuade the Albanian leadership in Kosovo that they really must accept a multi-ethnic state? The President-in-Office of the Council has said that we are the biggest donor, we have the largest military presence. Why should I have to persuade a European taxpayer to continue providing money for a state whose only aim, or whose political leadership´s only aim is de facto to create an ethnically pure state in Europe? Why should we, equally, subsidise and support Belgrade if Belgrade is not prepared to accept a joint multi-ethnic entity (let us say) or a multi-ethnic state? I have always advocated moving towards independence for Kosovo, but is the Albanian leadership in Kosovo doing its part for that independence, namely creating the conditions for it? After all the things you have rightly said, Commissioner, Mr President-in-Office, we must draw the obvious conclusion. If the worst comes to the worst, we must withdraw our support if we find things are going the wrong way.We will not help things here with fine words. They may be hearing the fine words, but the leadership is not taking any notice. That is why, however much I agree with what you said, Commissioner, and you were perfectly right, I believe we must now look to the Council and the Commission – but in the end chiefly to the Council – not simply for words, but for action if the Albanian leadership in Kosovo and also the Serbs are not prepared to work on a joint project for Kosovo. I still do not see that happening. I am really looking to the Council and Commission to act accordingly.