Kosovo Apart

Kosovo Apart

Naser Rugova, a senior policy advisor in the office of the prime minister of Kosovo, outlines why independence for Kosovo is vital to domestic and regional progress and prosperity...

So when everyone feels comfortable in their own homes, we will all start working as neighbors. I think this all connects to the sovereignty issue, and if Kosovo does not get a seat immediately at the U.N., then the Kosovo people should get a guarantee of when they will get that seat. That is important in order to counter internal extremism. Because for the extremists, one should keep in mind, the idea of having an independent Kosovo is treason because they think that an independent Kosovo is a compromise. Extremists are a very small minority, but we don't want to give them a case that they can build upon. So we will tell them: "We need to have a guarantee so the future leaders of Kosovo can say ‘Kosovo is a functional state and even though it's small, it's a state.'" And people also feel comfortable enough being citizens of that state. So if Kosovo cannot have a seat immediately, then we should have a guarantee of when it is going to happen.

TNI: Do you see the question of regional integration and EU integration as mutually reinforcing, in the sense that it would force the countries in the region to cooperate in order to enter the European Union, and that would also help to counterweigh the positions of the extremists?

NR: We all have extremists. The Serbs have their own extremists; the Croats, the Bosnians have their own. And the extremists build a case for each other. And this is a running story that some day should end, and we hope that that day will come very soon. And I think that if Kosovo becomes like the lost piece of the puzzle that was meant to be established, I think the extremists will lose steam. Why do I say they will lose steam? Because in order for extremists to exist they need conflict. If there is no conflict, there is no reason for them to exist.

National Interest online editor Ximena Ortiz conducted this interview.