Serbia must resort to law, justice and confront every attempt to impose Kosovo independence
Belgrade, Sept 12, 2006 – Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica addressed the Serbian parliament today and stated that the unanimous belief of the entire people, which is to fight for a just and truthful cause, leaves the government with but one choice – that today, more than ever, it is under obligation to confront with law and justice every attempt to impose Kosovo independence.
The Prime Minister's speech in full:
"Honourable members of Parliament,At the beginning of the year, you unanimously entrusted this executive authority and its negotiating team with the task of representing the interest of the people and the country at the talks on Kosovo future. We took the obligation upon ourselves to inform you on the course of the talks and all our decisions on a regular basis, which, as you can see, we have fulfilled. You, as well as all Serbian citizens, must be aware that in the period behind us, there was not an argument we did not put forward, a possibility we did not consider, doors we did not knock at, that we missed nothing and cringed before nobody. We remained patient and composed and stuck to the framework which was determined by the Resolution adopted by you, that is parliament. Faced with terrible prejudice, predilections and impartialities on behalf of the other side which, however, lacked counterarguments and was not prepared to compromise, we strove, and I believe that we managed, to remain steadfast and reasonable. These are the reasons why the Serbian government has asked that this session be called and that you give it an opportunity to stand before you with a report on what has been done, as well as with proposed future steps.Honourable members of parliament, in this historical moment it has befallen us and our entire generation to jointly state our opinion and make the decision regarding Kosovo-Metohija. We are not the first in the history of our people and our state to declare ourselves on Kosovo, but we know that in the course of our entire history there has been only one possible answer. Ever since those who lost their lives in Kosovo six centuries ago and during all the generations that lived fought and died for Kosovo, this answer has been that Kosovo has always been and will always remain the constituent part of Serbia. This both facilitates our position at this moment and makes it more difficult. On one hand, it is even more difficult because we must be aware of our responsibility and worthy of our answer, whereas on the other hand, it is facilitated because of the very fact that the answer to the Kosovo issue cannot be new, because as long as there is Serbia there will be no other answer. It is thus even more so because none of our predecessors was asked this question the way we are today and none of them was demanded to do what we others demand from us. It is demanded, honourable parliament members, no more no less than that we give up Kosovo-Metohija and concede to the outrageous intention that another independent ethnic Albanian state be formed on our territory.Serbia has to declare itself on Kosovo status once again and we must do this fully aware of the gravity and far-reaching consequences of the historical issue we are faced with today. When it comes to Kosovo-Metohija, nothing can remain unsaid, vague, hazy or unclear. On the contrary, while looking straight in the eyes of those who are to decide the fate of Kosovo and thus of entire Serbia, we must with all our democratic forces defend our sovereignty and make our stance legal before the whole world. Ever since Serbia came to be, every member of our people comes and goes from this world with an awareness that Kosovo has been and will always be a constituent part of Serbia. It has been given to us, who represent Serbian citizens at the moment, the supreme obligation that we reiterate this truth by inscribing it in capital letters into the new Serbian constitution. This means but one thing: for the state of Serbia, Kosovo will never be independent. It also means that for Serbia, even if it is seized through legal violence, Kosovo-Metohija will always be a part of Serbia according to its constitution. If we decide today to put into the new constitution the undisputable truth that Kosovo is a part of Serbia, we would make a fatefully important and only possible decision. We will thus send everyone an unambiguous message that as for Kosovo-Metohija, the state of Serbia is obliged solely and only by that which is stated in its constitution. In other words, the world must know that as long as there is Serbia, Kosovo will for us be its inseparable province.In light of all this, it is in Serbia's utmost interest that the new constitution is adopted in which unanimously, through the will of all the parties, and most importantly, through the will that the entire people and all citizens will state at the referendum, we will underline that Kosovo-Metohija is simply Serbia. If there were any more or less justified objective obstacles to the new constitution, then now, when Kosovo is at stake, we must subdue everything to this task of supreme state and national interest. We can discard any thought that the referendum on the new constitution might fail, because I firmly believe that we all share the belief that there is no citizen in Serbia who will refrain from voting at the referendum on the new constitution solely because the constitution will claim that Kosovo belongs to Serbia and will for ever remain its constituent part. Honourable members of parliament, you know that on July 24 we talked in Vienna with ethnic Albanian representatives from Kosovo-Metohija. Everything they said (and for some of them our country has reasons to suspect of having Serbian blood on their hands) in the presence of international mediators comes down to the fact that they would like to have another ethnic Albanian state and that this new state should be on Serbia's territory. The strong will and eager wish to be given 15% of Serbia's territory so they can have another state they did not manage to back or explain by even a single argument or the slightest rational reason. I wish to tell you that at the talks, our arguments were by far superior since they were based on the principles of justice, international law, democratic values and European standards. Since we were deprived of hearing at least one argument in favour of Kosovo independence, both on that occasion as well as all the previous ones, at the next round, held on August 8, international mediator Martti Ahtisaari took it upon himself to put forward the only argument in favour of independence so far. This outrageous argument for taking away the territory from our people is known to the entire world today and it says that "Serbs are guilty as a nation". If anyone in Serbia or international community still wonders whether Ahtisaari actually said that "Serbs are guilty as a nation", the answer is categorical. Yes, he did say that and in these exact words.We reacted to Ahtisaari's stance calmly and on principle, and not excessively as some said. The least we expected was that Ahtisaari apologizes to the Serbian people. However, it turned out that the diplomat found it more difficult to apologize than to insult an entire nation. He not only failed to do what was in itself natural and just, but soon stepped forward with new accusations against Serbia. Be as it may, Serbian parliament is under obligation to clearly and unambiguously condemns Ahtisaari's statement that Serbs are guilty as a nation. Whether the Special Envoy has retained the authority of an international mediator after all this and whether we can trust his impartiality and objectivity, at least when it concerns Serbia, it is needless to say. Serbian parliament must find a permanent and comprehensive answer to all the problems we are yet to face concerning Kosovo. I firmly believe that our best answer, both by its far-reaching consequences and its strength needed to survive all the pressure and temptations that may lie ahead, is that Serbian parliament passes the new constitution and thus unanimously and within the shortest possible period, that is by end-December, confirms our unanimous and steadfast position that Kosovo is a constituent part of Serbia. On the other hand, any imposed solution based on the use of force and legal violence would be nothing but clear and brutal seizure of our territory. When almost a sixth of the territory of a free, sovereign and democratic country is seized, then all foundations crumble and all democratic values are destroyed, principles of international law and order are violated, and in fact the very structure of the modern world is brought into question. And of course – all of that seriously jeopardizes the stability of our entire region. Our position is perfectly simple. When it comes to the issue of Kosovo-Metohija, Serbia speaks of its Constitution, of the principles of international law upon which the UN and the entire international order rest, of the universally accepted values of democracy and it speaks of European standards for solving minority issues. Serbia speaks of compromise and a historically just solution. Serbia says that Serbs have lived with ethnic Albanians for centuries and we want that this co-existence in the province, for the first time in history, be founded on democratic principles through substantial autonomy for Kosovo-Metohija. What can be controversial about that? What is wrong regarding Serbia’s position on the issue? Is it wrong that we advocate respect of international law upon which today’s international order rests or perhaps we are mistaken when we seek a compromise solution?In any case before it occurs to anyone to say to us that we should give up a sixth portion of our territory, a territory where our country originated and which is the birthplace of the spirit of our nation and culture, they should consider the fact that such an event, more precisely, such an experiment has never taken place before in the history of Europe. Those countries which might favour the idea of an independent Kosovo-Metohija should think what 15% of their territory means to them, in order to better understand what is being demanded of Serbia. It is difficult to find a better argument than the unquestionable truth that such a seizure of territory has never occurred anywhere, and no country has ever accepted that, or could possibly do so.If a country steps forward, ready instead of Serbia, to give 15% of its territory as a gift, it might be possible to meet the demands being made by ethnic Albanians to create another country of their own. As far as Serbia is concerned, Kosovo-Metohija is our territory and no one may give away as a gift that which belongs to us. The same rules and principles applied to the rest of democratic European countries must also be applied for a 21st century Serbia and any attempt at enforcing a precedent just when Kosovo-Metohija is in question would mean that we are being asked to humiliate ourselves as a country and a nation, to give up our dignity and to trample underfoot the honour of our entire nation.We all know more than well that one man alone cannot defend Kosovo-Metohija, just as one man alone cannot lose it. Kosovo-Metohija can be defended only by the entire nation or the entire nation, if it decides to, can lose it. Ever since Kosovo-Metohija came into being it has belonged to and has been cherished by the entire nation and will always be a matter that concerns all of Serbia and the entire Serbian nation. A firm and well guided national will, if it seals the referendum on a new constitution which will confirm that Kosovo-Metohija is the very heart of Serbia, will become the most reliable guarantee that we have given a dignified answer to the question we are faced with in this new test in the history of Kosovo-Metohija.The Serbian government considers that the parliament's decision to approve the participation in talks on the province's future status, initiated by the UN Security Council, is exceptionally good and wise. Serbia has thus proved that it is capable of taking its share of responsibility for finding a compromise solution, which would serve the essential interests of Serbs and the ethnic Albanians in the province. Our position is objectively made easy by the fact that all relevant arguments favour the Serbian side. We are opposed by very dangerous, though more or less concealed, ideas about an ethnically cleansed and independent Kosovo-Metohija, which are based on nothing but the use of aggression. Our negotiating team was most seriously prepared to discuss any subject and any form of talks in negotiations conducted so far. We defended our position with responsibility and reason at every step, and it is the force of our arguments which is most probably the reason why there has been no progress whatsoever in the talks. Ethnic Albanians are simply not interested in serious negotiations, and are arrogantly secure in their belief that they have been given in advance something that does not belong to them, an independent Kosovo-Metohija.When Kosovo-Metohija is in question, Serbia cannot afford any arbitrariness or trifling. That is why we will not permit a single punctuation mark to be put on the wrong place, whether the matter at hand is decentralisation, economy or any other subject. Criticism regarding the allegedly non-constructive behaviour of Belgrade in the negotiations held so far was heard several times from various sides. We must be open and say that this criticism in fact means that Belgrade is considered to be non-constructive just because it refuses to accept an independent Kosovo. The actual truth is that, precisely by deciding not to accept and never to accede to the seizure of part of its territory, Serbia has chosen to take the most constructive and most responsible role when the stability, peace and prosperity of our region are viewed in the long run, which undoubtedly represents the highest and most lasting of values. Everyone should know that Serbia will not support any thoughtless and hastily brought solution which could set a precedent and worsen the already more than complicated Kosovo-Metohija issue. We want to remind in time all those rushing to solve this issue one way or the other that we, and not they, live in this region, and we would especially like to stress that those whose lives are in question know the true value of a good and viable solution compared to any premature, nervous and forced decision.This is also the proper place and time to emphasize that the fact that our country is participating in the talks on the future status of Kosovo-Metohija with responsibility does not mean that Serbia, just by its participation in the talks could give legitimacy to an imposed solution. Serbia can, is ready and certainly will give legitimacy to a solution which is the result of agreement and represents a compromise. Our proven determination to find a compromise gives us the right, in accordance with the Resolution adopted by this house, to firmly reject and declare invalid any solution which is not a result of an agreement reached with Serbia.Honourable members of parliament, even though every single one of our arguments is superior and uncontroversial, they must be made more powerful, substantiated with the confirmation given by the unwavering will of the Serbian nation that we are to defend, with all political and legal means, that which is ours, namely Kosovo-Metohija. The unanimous conviction of the entire nation to fight for justice and truth leaves us without any other option: today more than ever, we are obliged to oppose, with law and justice, any attempt at imposing an independent Kosovo-Metohija. If we do as much as we can and should for Kosovo-Metohija and Serbia, then our nation and history will never forget us. I thank you for your attention."
12 September 2006
Serbia must resort to law, justice and confront every attempt to impose Kosovo independence