Mr Bajrami: What has changed in Kosovo since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on Friday (22 July)? Is there a new mood in Kosovo after the ruling?
I think that there are higher expectations, and rightly so. People now expect our institutions and the international community – especially the part of the international community that has been supportive of Kosovo's independence – to use this opportunity and this momentum created by the court in The Hague to complete the process which began in February 2008 [on 18 February 2008 Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia].
I think the expectations are that we can now convince these indecisive states in the international community to recognise Kosovo – at least some of them – and by doing that, probably get closer to reaching an international consensus in accepting Kosovo as a member of the United Nations and a member of the family of world states.
The EU countries that have not recognised Kosovo (Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia) are probably your top priority. Is that so?
Of course, because after all Kosovo is in Europe, and the EU has its biggest and probably most important mission in Kosovo. I think that last week's legal opinion from The Hague about Kosovo's independence should actually influence the five countries that are still not recognising Kosovo.
I think that it's not only for the benefit of Kosovo itself, but it's also for the benefit of a common European policy and the benefit of the region and, if you like, even for the benefit of Serbia.
Once the Kosovo issue is taken off the table of problems in front of the European Union, I think that what remains is that the region has to concentrate fully on integrating itself in the EU. That is what, I hope at least, everybody would like to see here.
How would you judge Serbia's reaction following the ICJ ruling?
I think it is a pity that there is no courage among Serbia's governing personalities, especially with the president of Serbia, there is no change in the current – the current which has been negatively running in Serbia for quite some time when it comes to Kosovo. I think that this was an opportunity to change the policy in ways which would benefit not only Kosovo but also Serbia and, at the end of the day, benefit the whole of the region on its way towards Europe.
I think that the fact that Serbia cannot come back to Kosovo was clear even before this opinion. But this opinion made it clear that even the world is siding slowly but surely with Kosovo's right to have a state.
I think that Serbia, at one point or another, will have to change its position towards Kosovo and this was a good moment for them – they didn't use it – and I hope that they can gather the strength to do it as soon as possible, because then it would be a great relief for us but also for them and everybody else around.
How about Russia? Russia is very supportive of Serbia and as long as that support is there, it is difficult to imagine that Serbia will change its position…
Yes, but I think that Russia is just using the situation for its own benefit. On the other hand, we have a situation where Serbia, backed by Russia, did ask for the opinion of the international court and now they are somehow refusing to accept this opinion, which we all know was not legally-binding for anybody, but it's an opinion that is quite relevant to the fact that Kosovo is now a state that has been legally been declared without infringing any international norm or law.
I think that everybody should ask the question – why is Russia inciting Serbia so much to go against the mainstream and the institutions of the United Nations in this way?
Until we declared independence here, Serbia was actually working, and is still working in some ways, against the dispositions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. It's not only independence that they didn't want: they also didn't want an international protectorate that was mandated by the Security Council and for which Russia itself voted. Now I think that we see double standards coming from Russia and Serbia, in this way.
The General Assembly of the UN will probably discuss the issue in September or October and I think that these issues will come up – there should be the question: what is this repositioning against the court that we see from Russia and Serbia? So the problem is not in Kosovo anymore.
You see it as an embarrassment for Serbia to ask for the court's opinion and then say we don't care about it…
I think one has to ask another question: what if the court had decided the opposite way? What would the reaction in Serbia be? We are all aware that this is a very difficult moment for Belgrade and we would like to see Belgrade get over this in a peaceful manner without having deep problems inside.
I think that there is a need for a change in Serbia's position and the international court's ruling was actually the perfect moment for that. If they don't use this, I think that we are going to enter into a very negative cycle when it comes to Serbia and its integration with Europe and, by definition, that would negatively influence not only us here in Kosovo but also the region itself.
Regarding the internal situation in Kosovo, there have been a number of indictments of senior officials by the EU's rule of law mission, EULEX. Is this a positive sign that EULEX is functioning well or is it a bad sign that the Kosovo authorities are very corrupt? How would you comment on this?
Well I would say that we have a fight on two major fronts here: Kosovo has problems defining itself internationally and with the international court we have just made a very big, positive move forward on this front.
The other front is of course domestic, it's about building a society and building a state that is democratic, tolerant and multiethnic, as was foreseen, and also ruled by law. Of course, there are problems which have to expected, because Kosovo has not been ruled by law in the last 30 years – even during the United Nations administration there were a lot of problems with that.
So we are now trying to get things straight and I think that obviously there is a reason why with the Ahtisaari Plan there should be a supervised independence, because we do need help for this. I think that the EULEX mission should do exactly that: help.
Whether this is a new sign, we will have to wait and see, because these sorts of thing don't happen overnight – success depends on a lot of other things that need to happen in future. But it's obvious that Kosovo has now entered into a fight on this other front – the front that has to do with building a sustainable, functional democracy which is ruled by law.
Hopefully we will see that, and the more international recognitions we get, we will have more chances to be successful on this domestic front, so I don't think that these two things are separate.