In October 2009, the United Nations approved Serbia's request to ask the ICJ whether Kosovo's secession from Serbia was legal. On 1 December 2009, the ICJ began to examine the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence. The judgement could tip Kosovo's future towards full international recognition or push it back under the auspices of the Serbian state.
Asked if he expected good or bad news from the ICJ, with some media sources claiming that the ruling is expected before the end of the month, Beqaj said: "Nobody knows how long the decision will take but it is on its way."
"It is the second stage of the ICJ's opinion and we expect a balanced opinion in terms of recognising Kosovan sovereignty and in opening the stage for Kosovo to be recognised by many more countries," he said.
The minister, who took charge of a newly-created EU integration ministry, seemed to imply that Serbia would be forced to normalise relations with its former province, in the framework of its EU accession process.
"I've heard very good views from European politicians that the integration process is based on merit but also neighbourhood cooperation. In this sense I think that Serbia has to go through changes itself as, at the end of the day, membership of the EU depends on the Copenhagen criteria," the minister said.
Regional cooperation is not in fact one of the Copenhagen criteria. However, with regard to the countries of the former Yugoslavia, the EU institutions have been insisting that applicants should resolve their bilateral disputes outside the EU framework; that they should cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); and that they should pursue regional integration and improve the situation of minorities.
Minister Beqaj described the situation in the northern part of Kosovo, which is outside the control of the authorities in Pristina, as "unacceptable". However, he praised the vote recently held in the newly created Serb-dominated municipality of Partesh/Partes, where nationalist forces lost ground and more moderate politics were awarded by voters.
However, his views may appear over-optimistic, as a blast occurred in northern Kosovska Mitrovica on Friday, shortly after he spoke, during a protest by ethnic Serbs. One man was killed and several were injured.
Kosovo police said a hand grenade was thrown by an unknown attacker into a crowd of about 1,000 Serbs protesting against the opening of a civil registry office run by Pristina in the Serb-dominated part of Mitrovica.