Kosovo appreciates Czech recognition of the country’s independence

Флаг Косова

The Czech Republic has become the 20th country of the European Union to recognize independent Kosovo. When the decision was announced last week, it was criticized by some Czech politicians who claimed the government of the former Serbian province has not yet fully shown its commitment to upholding democratic principles and protecting Kosovo’s religious and ethnic minorities. Radio Prague asked the head of the Czech Liaison Office in Pristina Janina Hřebíčková what the situation in Kosovo was like at the moment.

“The Kosovo government has made some substantial positive and constructive progress not only by putting together the democratic, multiethnic and secular documents, such as the constitution of the new Kosovo Republic and a big package of new laws. Until now, the government of Kosovo has only taken positive steps concerning their future and their commitments. They follow the Ahtisaari Plan in close cooperation with the international community, which is very much appreciated.”

The Czech Republic took its time in recognizing independent Kosovo. Has their government reacted in any way?

“All members of the Kosovo government including Kosovo’s President Fatmir Sejdiu immediately expressed two things – big and deep gratefulness as well as deep respect for the Czech statesmanship. They are aware of the very difficult situation at our own political scene but they understand that this is a demonstration of the fact that the Czech Republic belongs among the countries that share Western values, which value economic liberalization and which appreciate secular and multiethnic integration efforts – not only of Kosovo, but of the former republics of Yugoslavia including Serbia, which is a very relevant partner – into the European Union.”

Do you think that the Serbian minority in Kosovo is enjoying sufficient protection?

“The minorities, not only of the Serbs – we mustn’t forget about the Turkish, Ashkali, Roma and Bosnian minorities, are protected not only by KFOR but also by the UN and its structures, such as the UN police force, and by the Kosovo police service. The constitution and all the institutionalized documents guarantee the rights and minorities, too. And I can assure you that the European Union, the European Commission, the United States and NATO are going to watch very closely over the actions of Kosovo’s government and municipal leaders of communities throughout the whole of Kosovo.”

The Czech government has decided to upgrade the Czech Liaison Office in Pristina. Do you expect that you will be appointed the first Czech ambassador to Kosovo?

“I really cannot speak on behalf of the Czech government. I can only presume that it would be a very logical diplomatic and political move. But it’s up top the government when and how they want to do this. Some countries appointed ambassadors immediately after they upgraded their missions to embassies, other countries keep their liaison offices or trade missions. Some countries only open their consulates so it really depends on the Czech government what decision they are going to make.”