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Europe

'Partition is no solution for Kosovo'

Belgrade and Pristina have struck a deal allowing Kosovo to take part in regional meetings. German Special Representative for Southeastern Europe Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff spoke to DW about what comes next.

DW: Some politicians in Serbia have started arguing decisively in favor of the partition of Kosovo. Would this option be considered at all by Germany as a solution to the Kosovo problem?

Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff: The answer is simple: No. [Germany's Foreign] Minister [Guido] Westerwelle explicitly said during his visit to the region that the borders in the Balkans are fixed. The same goes for northern Kosovo. Furthermore, we do not believe that a partition could be the solution to the problem of, and in, northern Kosovo.

But there are politicians, not only in Serbia but also in Kosovo itself, such as the Albanian nationalist movement Self-Determination, who are in favor of uniting all the Albanian-populated areas in the region. You had a meeting with the leader of this movement, Albin Kurti, recently in Berlin. What do you think of that idea?

Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff

Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff believes Kosovo should be a multiethnic state

We think that their proposal is totally wrong. This would not lead to a solution, but rather to new problems in the Balkans. This new party represents, both in and outside the parliament, Albanian nationalist ideas in Kosovo. This is allowed in a democracy, but in Kosovo - and I'm sure elsewhere, among Albanians - it is not a majority view.

The Berlin Institute for International Policy recently published a study, according to which the union of all Albanian-populated areas in the region would have no domino effect. They say that Macedonia would easily give up its western parts because there are already a lot of problems with the Albanian minority there. And Bosnia and Herzegovina would face no danger, should it come to this type of territorial and border shifts. Do you agree?

First, there is the question of whether one should pursue, or even agree, to the creation of new or different types of monoethnic states. We believe that the European model is a multiethnic state. Then there is the question of Greater Albania, which resurfaces every now and then, although, surprisingly, much less frequently than we assume.

I am firmly convinced that Albania proper has no interest in Greater Albanian considerations. Furthermore, the affected population has been rarely consulted on such matters, and this type of territorial shift would also bring about population shifts. That's all, to put it very carefully, un-European and incompatible with the values, customs and ideas of the European Union.

As for the domino effect, because no one knows beforehand how things will play out - who would want to try it out? We will not support such ideas. Quite the contrary, we will insist that the borders in the Balkans are fixed, and that the goal should be to develop modern democratic, multiethnic states within these borders

How do you rate the security situation in Kosovo at the moment? Will the situation remain calm? Are you concerned that riots could happen again against the background of the negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo?

We are certain that basically across the Western Balkans the security situation is good. This is also true of Bosnia, where a small number of international military troops are still present.

In Kosovo, there are still some 6,000 NATO soldiers in the multinational Kosovo Force mission (KFOR). They are stationed there with the full consent of the Kosovo government. I don't think that there is a security problem in the Republic of Kosovo. On the other hand, we also naturally want to prevent safety problems from being created. Therefore, we are against unilateral actions for instance by the Pristina government in the north. The problem of northern Kosovo must be resolved through negotiations. We also want to continue to reduce KFOR troops. At the moment, we've come to a standstill over North Kosovo, but the trend is clear: troops will continue to be reduced.

The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX, is to some extent quite controversial. Many say that it is too expensive and that it can accomplish too little. Where do you see its limits but also its possibilities?

EULEX is a major European mission, which will probably shrink gradually and slowly. The problem is that EULEX can't fulfill its mandate in northern Kosovo and can't do anything about it. It is prevented from being active at all in northern Kosovo. We very much hope that a negotiated solution for north Kosovo will ensure that EULEX can go about its business. At the same time, EULEX could also be reduced - this is currently being discussed in Brussels, where EULEX is undergoing its first comprehensive assessment since it was established in 2008.

Interview: Verica Spasovska / tt
Editor: Gregg Benzow

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