Press Availability Following the MOU Signing Ceremony With the Kosovo Prime Minister
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Prime Minister thank you so much for those kind words and for this warm welcome. I’m really pleased to be back in Pristina. This is my fourth visit to Kosovo since I became Assistant Secretary two years ago. And I hope you’ll see that as a sign of my continued commitment to and engagement with this country. In addition to those four visits here, I’ve had the chance to meet the Prime Minister on a number of other occasions in Washington and elsewhere and I appreciate our ongoing dialogue. In those two years since I’ve been in my current position and had these regular visits to Kosovo, I’ve seen enormous progress in this country towards the stable democracy and country based on the rule of law that the Prime Minister referred to. Before my excellent meeting with the Prime Minister, I met with your new President, and I congratulated her on her election and told her that it was not only a success for her personally but for this country to demonstrate that it is based on a constitution and that this young democracy can confront political challenges as we all do and emerge from the other side having shown that it’s committed to constitutional order, democracy and the rule of law. I just had an excellent lengthy meeting with the Prime Minister and we discussed a number of issues of common concern. First and foremost I reiterated our strong support for Kosovo’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. That is something that the United States has been clear about and I want to continue to be clear about it here. We talked about the importance of Rule of Law – again something the Prime Minister just mentioned. Kosovo needs to be seen as a country that is committed to fighting corruption; that is committed to strengthening its democracy. Its image in the world is continuing to get better and better based on the steps that have been taken to demonstrate that it is committed to these common values that it shares with the United States. We also discussed the dialogue with Serbia which is something the United States has encouraged and strongly supports. It’s important to see these two countries sitting down at a table and talking about their differences. We have encouraged both sides to be practical and pragmatic. Our vision for this region is one in which both Kosovo and Serbia move down the path towards European integration, and for that to happen the two countries need to agree on in the first instance, practical matters that improve the lives of all people in both countries and I think that is what the dialogue is about.
I was pleased to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the Prime Minister, a further sign of the practical cooperation between our two countries in critical areas, like education, among others. As you all may know, I am on a trip throughout the Balkans this week. I’ve been in Bosnia and Serbia, I’ll be in Croatia later tonight and I hope that people see that as a further sign of our commitment to this entire region. We want to see all of the Balkans enter Euro-Atlantic institutions. And that certainly includes our great friend and partner Kosovo. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Mr. Gordon, lately a lot was discussed about the partition of Kosovo, even the state of Serbia, the President of Serbia stated for the Serbian media that for the partition of Kosovo there should be discussions carried with Albania. What is your comment?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: We in the United States have been very clear about the issue of partition. We are not contemplating it. We are against it. We don’t think it would be practical. We don’t think it would be in anyone’s interest. Partition would have regional consequences that we think would be negative for the entire region. We’ve been absolutely clear about our commitment to Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. There are ways in the modern world to ensure that all citizens of a country -- whatever their ethnicity -- are able to have a strong voice in their own government, have their rights and security protected. Every country in the Balkans, indeed practically every country in the world, has ethnic minorities on one size or another. And in most of our democracies we have found ways of accommodating their interests, concerns, without redrawing borders. And just to be absolutely clear, a Balkan region based on drawing borders around every ethnic group would be a recipe for disaster. It’s not something we support. There are better and other ways to make sure that all of Kosovo’s citizens are accommodated in the Kosovo democracy.
QUESTION: You have been calling on Serbia and Kosovo; you’ve been pressing on both sides to reach agreement in these talks. Can you be more specific, what is this agreement about? We know it’s about practical issues, but what kind of practical issues would you like to see included in this agreement?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: Well, I don’t think it’s for me to sit here and tell either country what they need to do. I’m encouraged to see that they have identified a set of issues that they are willing to talk about and try to make progress on and I think many people are familiar with that list of issues. The United States’ role in this process is not to tell the two parties what they need to discuss or even what the compromises need to be but to just support and encourage the process. As I said I’m encouraged that they are doing that directly. Ultimately the two sides need to agree.
QUESTION: Mr. Gordon, as is already known the European Union has established a task force on investigating the allegations from the Dick Marty report. What is the role of the U.S. in this Task Force and when do you expect that all allegations to be clarified. Mr. Prime Minister, if you could also comment on it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: We‘ve been clear that we take these allegations seriously. Such allegations deserve to be investigated and we have said that we support a full investigation. Precisely the U.S. role in any investigation is not yet determined because the task force isn’t fully set up. We are engaged in talks with the EU about how we can be most helpful. We think that EULEX is well-placed to conduct such an investigation and we want to see these allegations investigated fully. War crimes anywhere are serious issues and regardless of who the victims are, justice should be done and the facts should be known and that’s why we’re strongly supportive. We’ve encouraged all countries in the region to cooperate with the investigation once it is underway and we are gratified of the assurances we’ve have from all the parties we’ve discussed with that they intend to fully cooperate in the investigation so that all the facts are known.
QUESTION: Is it going to take time?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY GORDON: To do any investigation seriously requires a certain amount of time. The allegation should be investigated promptly. They should also be investigated properly. So let’s support an international process to put together a serious group that can do the job right and inevitably if you’re going to do a thorough job, it will take some time but the important thing is that it be done properly and professionally.