GERMANY IN A CHANGING EUROPE

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The Diplomatic Observer magazine has carried out an exclusive interview with Mehmet Okyayuz. The wide-ranging interview covers the structural exclusion of migrants and minorities, migration in Germany, pro-immigrant social movements, German Federal Election and Brexit.

 

Middle East Technical University

Nuran YILDIRIM

 

Mehmet Okyayuz is a university teacher in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Middle East Technical University in Ankara/Turkey. He studied Political Science, Philosophy and Sociology at the universities of Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg and Marburg.

He completed his M.A. at the University of Heidelberg and his Ph.D. at the University of Marburg. Some of his areas of research and education are labor migration along with Political Theory/Thought, Social Policy and Ideology Research. At present, he is teaching “Immigration Policies in Europe” and “Public Participation of Turkish Labor Migrants in Western Europe”. In addition, he is conducting research projects on “Return Migration from Germany to Turkey” and “Media Behavior of Turkish Migrants in Germany”. He was chairman of the Executive Board of the NGO Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM). He published texts (among others) concerning the issues of European and Turkish asylum systems, return migration, global migration and immigration policies.

 

Throughout Europe, tensions around issues of race, religion and national identity have been growing. And the meaning of migrants casts in the ambivalent conditions of modernity, as Zygmunt Bauman points out. In this sense, migrants have one dimensional existence, a peculiar position, as being neither inside nor outside, neither friend nor enemy, neither included nor excluded, which make the existential situation of the migrants is radically different, an opaque, not a transparent existence. Since the migrants are assigned no status inside the cultural realm, they want to make their own. The migrants therefore depicted the ambiguities which are troublesome and creating conflicts. Is it possible to overcome the structural exclusion of migrants and minorities so often lamented in mainstream discourses?

Let me first say that the relation between the ‘foreigner’ and the state has its most determinant basis in the immigration laws of the different states. Immigration Law is what we would call an exceptional legal system not fitting (politically liberal) principles such as calculability, rationality and transparency. Thus, this relation is asymmetrical in the sense that the state or (more concrete) the political actors defining, formulating and executing migration-specific issues do have a nearly unlimited disposition over the foreigners, and this even more if we consider the fact that public and political participation of these foreigners is limited if not totally ‘forbidden’ The things mentioned so far focusses on the structural dimension of (im)migration law and policies, and this dimension which is more or less independent from the actors, makes it categorically difficult for the migrants or – as formulated in your questionnaire – ‘foreigners’ to establish an understanding of their own living and working perspectives including the self determination of their ‘identity’. Nevertheless, there are periods within the German labour migration history after 1945 in which attempts to question mainstream understandings of what integration, multiculturalism, or identity could be were tried to be undergone by the migrants themselves. E.g., during the 1970’s the migrants tried to organize their own interests by becoming – may be the first time -self-conscious actors articulating themselves and their needs as part of the society. Up to that time they were solely objects of so-called migration research, but from this time until now they are aiming at attempting to be subjects of their concerns. This development was eased by the fact that a lot of migrants (foreigners) do possess the German citizenship which provides them a legal umbrella of protection. Unfortunately, nowadays there is a big gap between this political-legal aspect which is indeed of existential importance for the migrants, and the present social reality of a time in which xenophobia has become widespread in nearly all the European countries, particularly in traditional migrant-receiving countries such as Germany, France or the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, the only hope for a multi-layered conceptualization of integration and multiculturalism, in sum: of the possibility of living together rather than of living side by side, lies in the hands of the migrants themselves who should insist in articulating their interests as part of the interests of the whole society, and further more in informing the public of their new home countries about the structural reasons of population movements. It seems that in a World in which population movements have become a non-preventable part of international relations, this is the only realistic solution.

 

Germany is a sui-generis country in terms of immigration policies. In retrospect, Germany has been using immigrants for many years to support the country’s labor force, although it is often voiced especially by the politicians that Germany is not a country of migration. In this context, Germany is home to the highest number by far of all third-country nationals in the EU. On the other hand, despite the large share of immigrants in its population, Germany has long been one of the most restrictive in the EU in terms of citizenship policies. Could you give us a short history of citizenship and migration in Germany?

In most general terms we can divide German labour migration history after 1945 in four periods. The first period took place from the mid-fifties until the beginning of the 1970’s, more concretely spoken until the so-called recruitment stop of 1972/1973. In this first period foreign labour force was recruited from countries such as Italy, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Greece, (former) Yugoslavia to be employed in the traditional industrial sectors of Germany which’s main characteristics were uncomfortable working conditions in combination with relatively low wages. In the beginning the working contracts were based on the so-called rotational model according to which the recruited worker should work for one, or maximum, two years, and then return to his home country to contribute to the economy of the sending country. Behind this model we can state a conceptualization of each and every single worker as ‘human capital’ providing ‘innovative effects’. At least this was presented to the sending countries in the fore-evening of the bilateral agreements. In fact, this never happened in reality. According to the wishes of the German entrepreneurs, who were satisfied with the productivity of the labour migrants, the working (and resident) permits became extended. Even if migration has social dynamics immanent nearly impossible to control, and even if it became more and more evident during the sixties that most of the labour migrants would not return to their home countries, the fifties and sixties can be characterized as time period in which the social dimension of labour migration was in general neglected. In order to define this I use the formula: Immigration Policies as Labour Market policies. Thus, from the late sixties onwards it was more and more clear, that not only the majority of the recruited migrants would stay in their new homes, furthermore it was clear that they would bring their wives and husbands to Germany. By the way, it should be mentioned that nearly one third of the recruited labour force were women. To summarize one can say that until the recruitment stop Germany had in fact become somehow an immigration country. But until now this reality is more or less still not officially accepted. Until now this issue remains one of the taboos of German immigration policies, in addition with the refusal of providing labour migrants from Turkey with double citizenship. Even if after the establishment of the coalition between Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) new-born children are granted to possess double citizenship under certain conditions, for the vast majority of foreigners this still remains unreachable.

In the seventies we can state some positive developments. Some of them were mentioned within the framework of the answer of the first question. The foreigners more and more attempted to self-organize. Additionally we can state the debates of new issues, such as public and political participation of foreigners. Furthermore, at the end of the seventies, the first time official ‘voices’ began to discuss possibilities and necessities of double citizenship. The social dimension of migration was debated in public. Something completely new within the history of the relation between the foreigner and the state.

Starting with the 1980’s this partially positive development came somehow to stop as a result of beginning economic crisis symptoms of the Western European receiving countries, which provided the basis for an anti-migrant propaganda which is ongoing until now. The migration issue began to be formulated as a problem, integration was evaluated as having failed, the ‘foreigner’ itself was defined from ‘above’. Identity politics, this time, were not conceptualized by the foreigner it was directly executed from above by the state authorities. More and more the multi-dimensional and multi-directional approach to integration was replaced by a technical and formal one-sided approach, e.g. evaluating language courses as the solely mechanism of integration. The discourse of Migration Management shaped the mainstream content of immigration policies. Together with an increasing atmosphere of intolerance, xenophobia, and even open racism it is clear that the living and working conditions of the migrants get worse. Within the limited context of this interview it is not possible to list and analyze all the reasons for his negative process. I have therefore only mentioned the general cornerstones.

 

According to a report by Süddeutsche Zeitung based on data from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), about 55,000 migrants who were not eligible for asylum or were refused it left Germany voluntarily between January and November 2016. Why would thousands of people voluntarily leave Germany? Is it possible to talk about a serious threat against immigrants, especially by the government?

I am aware that part of my answer will include a certain level of ‘speculation’ due to the fact that no one really will know about the real reasons why people would ‘voluntarily’ leave a country where they have at least existential protection from dangers they would face in their home countries. But let me again speak of structural patterns shaping the attitude against asylum-seekers and refugees having come to a negative climax since 2-3 years when the so-called Syrian crisis did reach the borders of EU countries. Since 2 months refugee policies have become step by step more restrictive. Since then, the securitization of the state is openly dominant compared with human rights issues. Thus, in the first week of December 2016 in the party congress of the CDU principal suggestions were made in certain areas of immigration policies, such as an extension of the right of the state to deport refugees more easily. Furthermore it was suggested to deport so-called ‘tolerated’ people. These are persons whose refugee status determination process had ended in disfavour of them, but nevertheless – due to existential threats in their home countries – were granted to stay in Germany. Radical populist spokesmen of – not only – right-wing parties are aiming at deporting these people. It is possible to list more such steps to establish restrictive policies on asylum-seekers. The planned changes I mentioned above may be a sign that not – or not only – free will, but also indeed pressure, was the motor of the decisions to leave Germany.

 

In September 2017, Germany will elect a new parliament and Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been in power since 2005, announced her plans to run again for office. Yet, Angela Merkel has been facing criticism over her controversial open migration policy and her popularity is much weaker than it was months and years ago. So, is it possible that such voices in German public opinion can affect her campaign negatively and, thus, impact the election results? Additionally, a string of attacks and security alerts involving refugees and migrants this year has boosted support for the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party, which could damage Merkel’s re-election hopes. Far-right party the Alternative for Germany (AfD) has made gains in the wake of the migrant crisis and Brexit victory in the UK. How will the AfD perform in the election?

The voices mentioned in the question have already affected the political statements of Angela Merkel, even more if one has predictions in mind that the right-wing/populist AFD will continue to be successful in the next federal elections. Some journalists even claim that the AFD will get a least 10% of the votes Germany-wide. Within this context have in your mind that the CDU as a classical conservative party always has the trend to adopt right-wing slogans as part of their own politics in order to prevent these extreme parties from becoming too strong. Unfortunately, the prize paid for this is a drift from the center-right to more extreme positions. Let me give an example for such a development: In the mid-sixties the NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany), a legal extreme right party, had success in some regional parliaments. In these years the first time anti-migrant issues became politicized, and – like nowadays – paved the way for political ‘career’ of populist right-wing spokesmen. The CDU adopted a lot of political contents during these years. It might be concluded that Merkel will ‘repeat’ such an attitude by formulating restrictive politics even if this would somehow contradict with her ‘open-border-politics’ mentioned. On the other hand we have to see that the structuralization of immigration policies is shaped not only by the attitudes of parties such as the AFD, but also by the attitudes of ‘big’ economic actors’ such as the representants of big enterprises. For them migration means the possibility to more or less unlimitedly access foreign labour markets. Angela Merkel will have to position herself between these two main actors. But without doubt, even if labour market issues and the need to recruit foreign labour force will continue to be important, Europe will strengthen efforts to build up ‘Fortress Europe’, where Turkey is planned to play the role of a guard preventing people from going to Europe (e.g. see the readmission agreement between the EU and Turkey from last year, and the recently planned similar agreement between Switzerland and Turkey). Bi- and multi-lateral agreements, and furthermore ‘national’ restrictive policies as executed for example in Hungary, or latest planned to be executed in Malta, will undoubtedly affect Merkel’s policies to the disadvantage of foreigners.

 

Donald Trump officially became the 45th President of the United States on January 20. Trump campaigned for president on promises of imposing more severe restrictions on migration. In a joint interview with the Times of London and the German newspaper Bild, US President Donald Trump has said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made a “catastrophic mistake” with a policy that let a wave of more than one million migrants into her country at the height of the migrant crisis. Trump also said that if they (the EU countries) hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, EU wouldn’t have a Brexit. What does Brexit means for migration policy of Germany, in particular?

Concerning Brexit, I would not say that this has directly something to do with migration issues. By the way, it is propaganda that Europe ever opened the doors for people fleeing from war etc. to a broad extent. On the contrary, Europe including Germany, never had a real ‘welcome’ culture extending the level of political self-presentation. Trump’s words have to be understood within the context of his own anti-migrant populist discourse, and thus cannot be taken seriously. What can be seriously taken indeed, are actual numbers of asylum-seekers residing in EU countries which are ridiculously low compared to countries like our own, or countries such as Lebanon.

 

On the other hand, we can talk about some pro-immigrant social movements. So what are the dynamics of such social movements with a special emphasis on the “Refugees Welcome Germany”?

It is true, on the other hand, that a lot of individuals and organizations in countries such as Germany are trying to organize solidarity with foreigners and to inform the public about the structural patterns of migration enabling people to approach objectively to the issue and to overwhelm prejudices and fear. But in my opinion, more than the discourse of human rights concrete political steps should be done in favour of the foreigners enabling them to prepare for their new lives. A whole new approach to migration seems to be necessary.

 

Having regarded as the bedrock of the Nazi ideology, Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” was one of the best-selling books of nonfiction in Germany last year. According to the report published by the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, the new version of the book “Hitler, Mein Kampf, A Critical Edition” spent 35 weeks on Der Spiegel’s best-seller list and sold about 85,000 copies. Do you think the book would fuel nationalist sentiments and anti-immigrant propaganda?

Let me start to say that the publication of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is still prohibited in Germany. The recent publication is edited by the Institute of Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte) and is thought to be a critical scientific edition, and as such is including texts concerning the theoretical-historical framework of this book. Concerning this issue the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland) declared that “Mein Kampf must remain prohibited”, but that they would not object to a critical edition “contrasting Hitler’s racial theories with scientific findings, to be at the disposal of research and teaching”. More than this book actual texts from authors such as Thilo Sarrazin trying to ‘scientify’ racism will fuel nationalist sentiments and anti-migrant propaganda.

 

Thank you very much for joining us; we really appreciate it.

 

Note: This article was first published in the February 2017 issue of Diplomatic Observer magazine.

INTERVIEW WITH AFRIM HOTI

afrim hoti

 

The Diplomatic Observer magazine has carried out an exclusive interview with Prof. Ass. Dr. Afrim Hoti. The wide-ranging interview covers the conflict in Kosovo, Kosovo’s independence, ethnic minorities, Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM), neighborhood policy and the EU.

 

Middle East Technical University

Nuran YILDIRIM

 

Prof. Ass. Dr. Afrim Hoti is University of Prishtina Vice Rector for International Cooperation, Professor at the Department of Political Sciences. Graduated at Law Faculty in Pristina and completed his Master Degree at University of Sarajevo/Bologna. Finally completed his PhD studies at Hamburg/Sofia University. Working at UP since 2004, Mr. Hoti held many other positions in Kosovo. He used to work as Director of the Legal Office of the Kosovo Prime Minister 2003/5 and different other positions within Kosovo institutions. He used to be Political and Legal Advisor to different ministries at Kosovo’s Government and the Parliament. In 2006 he served as Legal Expert at the Special Chamber of the Kosovo Supreme Court. Many other positions held within international organizations in the country like UNDP, EU Projects, USAID and so on. He is the author of the book “Principle of Self Determination and Its Evolution in International Law”, and author of the monograph “European Perspective of the Western Balkan Countries”. He also published a number of publications in the international journals. Participated at many conferences and events in country and worldwide. Born in 1.11.1975. Married and father of three childrens, Arrita, Tuana and Unejs.

 

Having burdened by competing, and often contradictory, historical claims, Kosovo is a very diverse country and the conflict in Kosovo has its own unique character. Whilstthe Serbs view the territory as the historic birthplace of Serbia and of its Church, Albanians insists that their ancestors had already inhabited in Kosovo long before Serbs tribes arrived in there. Could you give us a short history of the conflict and independence of Kosovo?

History of Kosovo is more complex than it seemed to be during previous centuries. Since nineteenth century and onwards, the opposing national actions of the Albanian and Serbian citizens of Kosovo increasingly shaped the history of this state. Viewed by the perspective of each party, Kosovo was associated by historical events, considered as fundamental for the development of each party’s national identities. Seen by Albanians part view, Kosovo played a vital role on development of the Albanian nationalism. At that time, in one of its southern cities of Kosovo, Prizren, the Albanian national identity experienced a significant increase. In Prizren, during one of the countless crises of South East Europe, which involved biggest European powers, the Albanians established, on June 10, 1878, a political organization called the „League of Prizren. The League, however, played an important part on fostering the Albanian national identity. The Serbians on the other part have historically considered Kosovo as the structure of their medieval Serb Kingdom; a land of monasteries, castles and the resting place of great kings. The legends and myths associated with Prince Lazar, the Serbian leader at Kosovo Polje, who played a role on linking relationship bridges between medieval kingdom and on establishing a modern Serb national consciousness of nineteenth century and onwards. It is often presented by Serbs as “cradle” of Serbian civilization. A paradox from its nature. A “cradle of Serbian civilization” with around 90% Albanians, means a “cradle with someone else baby”.

Kosovo, as a country which was so essential on views, for Serbian and Albanian national identity, would certainly become a contested territorial piece. Going to the earlier history, it is fact that Albanians who compose more than 90% of Kosovo population are the Illyrian descendants who inhabited the area between Helenian tribes to go north with German tribes, from the prehistory era since Serbs came in the Balkan peninsula with the Slavic tribes at the seventh century. When such kind of nationalistic conflicts happen, the demography has a crucial role in formulating claim and counter-claim. The ethnographic composition of Kosovo and its evolution, since nineteenth century, form an important setting to a contemporary conflicts arena between Albanians and Serbian fighting for getting the control over it. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the population of Kosovo had an Albanian majority, while the Serbians became a sizeable minority. Nowadays, the rate of population remains similar, where the majority community is Albanians, by covering over 92% and Serbians with 5%. Political and constitutional developments within the Yugoslav federation, where Kosovo used to be a constitutional unit, were of huge importance too. Once Yugoslavia went through the dissolution process, and having into consideration and oppression and massive human rights violations conducted by the Milosevic regime during the Kosovo’s war, it was clearly known that Kosovo has to go through the kind of independence and create its own state identity. Series of negotiations of the parties, Kosovar and Serbian authorities, with the mediation of triangle US-EU-RF, took part until Kosovo, finally declares its independence in coordination with the main stakeholders of EU, US and other countries worldwide, including Republic of Turkey.

 

Indeed, Kosovo’s independence has happened as the final stage of a process of disintegration of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia since 1991. The United States, most of the European nations and the Turkish government have officially recognized the independence of Kosovo, but other EU members – Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania – have said they will not. Thus the international community divided on the issue. Why are so many countries opposed to independence of Kosovo?

Well, I don’t think there are so many. 5 out of 28 EU members definitely constitute a minimum number of states who are resisting to recognize the country. Seems that, at least based on my contacts and discussions I have that those countries more than anything against Kosovo’s independence are concerned with their internal developments and claims from the different entities to create state entities. The history after the independence has shown that this argument is if not inexistent than is very week as there was no real claim in Europe to create state entity. Apart from the conflicts, provoked by Russian Federation, there was no precedent used in Europe based in Kosovo’s way to independence. Thus, Kosovo was and still is to be considered as Sui Generis case and as such the concerns expressed by those who are resisting to recognize Kosovo seems to be inexistent.

 

Unlike some other states of the region that still have not recognized Kosovo, Turkey have recognized Kosovo immediately, a day after it has declared its independence. How is Kosovo’s bilateral political relations with neighboring countries and Turkey since it declared its independence in February 2008?

Majority of neighboring countries did recognize Kosovo so far. All ex Yugoslav states recognized apart from Serbia and Bosnia and Hercegovina blocked by the Serb entity within the country. Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania did recognize while Kosovo established and is promoting neighborhood policy based on the mutual respect, peace and development. Relations with these countries are excellent since they are both contributing to the peace and stability for the region. At the same time, Greece is standing in a kind of neutral position because of the Cyprus case. But, apart from the formal recognition, Greece recognizes the Kosovo documents and communicates normally with Kosovo authorities. I would consider it as silent recognition of the country whereas a formal declaration might increase the internal nationalistic voices. I have no doubt that Kosovo and Greece will soon have state bilateral relations. Turkey is another story as Kosovo had support from Republic of Turkey continuously. Kosovo considered and still is considering Republic of Turkey one of its natural allies. In terms of bilateral relations, I can freely consider that relations between both countries are excellent in the political, economical, military as well as diplomatic aspects. Both countries are functioning with their respective diplomatic missions, there is a free trade policy introduced where the Turkish capital and investments are present in Kosovo. Actually, Republic of Turkey is also supporting Kosovo in a diplomatic front starting with the recognition, Turkey’s position at the General Assembly of United Nations, as well as support given to the membership at different international organizations. Arab and Islamic states are also kept in contact and Kosovo is trying to lobby for recognitions thanks to the support given by Republic of Turkey and its foreign policy.

 

In accordance with the competences given by the EU charter and the US, Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) was created in 25 August 2015 with an agreement signed by the governments of Kosovo and Serbia in Brussel. Nevertheless, the agreement indefinitely postponed over conflicts and ultimately cancelled in December 2016. What are the reasons behind the cancellation of the agreement?

Association of Serb Municipalities was foreseen to be created in Kosovo based on the Brussels talks for the normalization of the Kosovo-Serbia relations. It is not cancelled but somehow suspended at the Kosovo Assembly. Actually there was a hesitation from the opposition parties in Kosovo that this kind of association is not in line with the Kosovo constitution because more than an organization of municipalities it is representing an asymmetric and the third level of governance in Kosovo. As such it is directly inflicting the internal form of governance. A claim sent to the Constitutional Court made the last one to express the concern of the conflicting provisions of the Agreement with the Constitutional provisions. More than this, the Court emphasized that its recommendations must be seriously taken into consideration when the Statute of the municipality with be approved at the Assembly. As such, the decision was considering as “victory” for one respectively other part of the Kosovo authorities. There is a huge contribution given by the Serb authorities who through the political statements provoked the situation which led to the suspension of the SMA establishment. For sure it will be among the first items at the Kosovo Assembly agenda at the first months in the coming year.

Apart from the SMA, let me mention here that rights of Serbs in Kosovo are highly protected and promoted by the current political system. Kosovo still keeps on the positive discrimination for the Serb community in Kosovo introduced following the end of the war in order to attract all communities, in particular Serbian community be part of the state structures.

 

Also, Kosovo Serbs are the largest ethnic minority group of Kosovo, numbering around 150,000 people. How is the relation with Kosovo Serbs? Does Kosovar government have a special program to integrate them into society?

With around 5% of the total population Serb community is treated in the best way it could be. With the policy of “reserved seats” at the Assembly plus the seats won in the elections, Serb community constitutes the third biggest political party at the Kosovo Assembly. Apart from this Serbs are accommodated in different institutions in Kosovo. They hold a position of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kosovo Government, Deputy Head of the Kosovo Assembly, one judge out of five local judges at the Constitutional Court, as well as number of ministers and deputy ministers. As mentioned at the previous question it used to be and still is a concern of Kosovo government the position of the Serb community and its accommodation at the Kosovo society. A continuation of “positive discrimination policy”, keeping the reserved seats as well as 12% minority inclusion at the administration in Kosovo represents the best the commitment of Kosovo toward whole minorities, in particular the Serb one.

 

In Kosovo Parliament, tear gas released during a meeting of the Kosovo parliament’s foreign affairs commission. The opposition organized the tear gas attack in order to block the commission’s meeting on the border agreement between Kosovo and Montenegro. Hence the meeting was being canceled. Why are they opposed to agreement?

Demarcation of the border with Montenegro represents another hot point for Kosovo authorities. Together with the SMA represent two most sensitive cases at the Assembly agenda for this year. Opposition parties are concerned that demarcation is done within the territory of Kosovo thus country is losing part of its territory. Between the means used to prevent the approval of this agreement a tear gas was thrown during the plenary sessions of the Assembly, consequently the sessions were not held. Together with the establishment of the SMA, I think will be in the agenda in the first months of coming year. Apart from it, Kosovo has established and exchange diplomats with Montenegro and are cooperating based on the principle of mutual respect, peace and development.

 

Additionally, the attack was not the first since Kosovo opposition MPs have repeatedly set off similar attacks in the Kosovo parliament. Similarly, Vetevendosje movement MPs had sprayed tear gas and threw tear gas bombs during a meeting on 2016 budget drafting the recent months.

We are discussing for the same plenary sessions. Vetevendosje was not the only subject whose MP’s have thrown tear gas bombs. It was all the opposition MP’s active during these sessions but we are happy that we have overcome that situation which is not a situation we want to see but this was part of political difficulties country was going through. Apart from it, the political processes are going normally and country is going through consolidation and democratization.

 

It is clear that 2016 was a rough year for the European Union. The migration crisis, Syrian war, Russian aggression, Italy’s decision to reject constitutional changes on December and the most importantly Britain’s vote to leave the European Union on June 23. Although Balkan countries are not directly affected in the short term, these are likely to cause difficulties for the Balkan countries in the EU accession process. In the coming years, indeed, the EU will have to devote enormous energy in order to solve its own internal crisis. Under these circumstances, are there any concerns about Kosovo’s EU membership?

You are right but at the same time, apart from the enlargement of 1995, the other enlargement waves, more than fulfillment of criteria’s were responses to the certain crisis. The crisis you are mentioning are also of huge EU political, economic as well as security implication. These developments together with BREXIT represent serious concern about the EU integration itself. So far, Kosovo, just like other countries has no other priority apart of being part of European integrations. But, more than this, Kosovo is not aspiring to be an independent country because of the EU integrations. Independence comes as result of the will of people, irrespective from the future forms of cooperation with other states or organizations. As such, under current circumstances we look forward to become member of EU and part of the EU family. Under other circumstances, no one can predict the forms of governance in that part of the world just same as everywhere. Finally, the will and consent of people must be a substance of decision for whatever form within EU or out of it.

 

Montenegro has signed a membership protocol with NATO in recent months. After a process which can take up to a year, Montenegro will become the 29th member of the alliance. Nevertheless, in an interview with The New York Times, Donald Trump defined NATO as obsolete and old fashioned because it does not properly cover terror. And he questioned the United States’ involvement in NATO. Trump said that if Russia invaded the members of NATO, including the new members in the Baltics such as Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the United States should not automatically honor NATO’s core principle – mutual defense – and come to their military aid. He told reporters that there are many NATO members which rely on the United States to have their backs and aren’t paying their bills. The White House and Pentagon support Montenegro gaining membership but Trump could oppose it as president. In this context, does Kosovo have any plans for joining NATO? If yes, what are the motivations behind?

In era we are living there are no logical motivations behind the creation of an Army apart from saving, promoting and contribution to the peace and stability and of course country protection. As it is widely known, Kosovo stands in close cooperation with United States, Germany, Turkey and other NATO members. We do want of course, first of all to create Kosovo’s Army and once it is created than make it part of NATO. The core political objectives of Kosovo are mentioned in the principle of Euro-Atlantic Integrations, meaning becoming part of EU as well as NATO. The motivation is to fold: first, being member of NATO countries secure their sovereignty based in the NATO’s core principle – mutual defense, and the second an Army based on professional standards and peace oriented. Statements given by elected president Trump I hope have the political nature only – on the contrary it would represent the serious risk for the stability and peace for countries worldwide.

 

Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for conducting the interview and allow me to great all your readers. As in the past, I hope Turkey – Kosovo relations will continue to strengthen toward mutual interests and serving to the peace, wealth fare and stability.

 

Thank you very much for joining us; we really appreciate it.

 

Note: This article was first published in the January 2017 issue of Diplomatic Observer magazine.