Interview With Radio Television Kosova

Interview
Victoria Nuland
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Pristina, Kosovo
July 12, 2015


Question: So, Ms. Nuland, welcome.

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Thank you. It’s great to be back in Kosovo.

Question: Ms. Nuland, what would the United States’ reaction be if Kosovo creates the Special Court, and on the other side, what if Kosovo fails to approve the creation of the Special Court?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Well, Burim, I think you and your viewers know that the United States has strongly supported the Special Court. We were very disappointed when it didn’t pass the Parliament the first time. I spent a lot of my time today talking to all of the stakeholders, the government, the opposition, the speaker of the parliament, about the importance of creating the Special Court, because it’s about justice, it’s about accountability, it’s about turning the page on the history of the past so that Kosovo can move forward. And when Kosovo moves forward with this, it will strengthen the United States’ ability to support Kosovo internationally. It will strengthen us when we go to the European Union, and say that you are becoming more European, that you’re living up to global standards, and European standards. So we think this is very, very important to move forward with the Court, and we hope there will be another vote on it before the summer break and that it will get broad support.

Question: What consequences will Kosovo have if this court is set up by the Security Council of the United Nations?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Well this is the worry, that if you don’t create this court yourselves, if you don’t take your own steps for justice, if you don’t take your own steps to hold people responsible, then the international community will do it instead. And when that happens, you’ll lose control over the way that it’s created, it may not work in a way that you are comfortable with, and frankly, your relationship with the international community could be put on hold while that process goes forward, or while the UN court does its thing. And we don’t want that. We want Kosovo to continue to move forward on its democratic and prosperous trajectory. We want it to continue to be able to move forward with Europe and with us, and so that’s why we want to see the court created by legislation here.

Question: There are agreements reached in Brussels as a result of the Dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. How does the U.S. see this process and where do you find the problem in implementation of the agreements reached there?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: We are very strong supporters as well of the Pristina-Belgrade Dialogue with the support of EU High Representative Mogherini. I think you know that the United States generally observes every round and tries to help the parties as well to find good solutions. This is about normalizing your relationship. This is about becoming, we hope, two strong countries living side-by-side in peace. It’s about Belgrade recognizing a strong, unified Kosovo’s right to manage its own future, but it’s also about the government in Pristina creating space for all the people here to feel like they have control over their own future. It’s about creating responsibility across the country. So we think it’s very, very important. We’ve seen some really good progress on the justice side, on other things, where now Kosovo is managing its own affairs completely, but there are other things that need to move forward. I think you know what the group is working on now, and we did talk today about how some of those gaps could be closed, and how the United States can help.

Question: There are lots of claims saying that Kosovo still has lots of problems with corruption. Why is it important for Kosovo to fight corruption and what will be the benefits for Kosovo if it reaches – to become a country with less cases of corruption?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Well I would say that it’s important for every country to fight corruption, including my own, and particularly for democratic countries, because corruption is a democracy killer. It’s basically about the few ripping off the many. And it’s about whether your government is completely clean and accountable, etcetera. So it’s important to create an environment where the playing field is level and everybody gets to play by the same rules, and particularly where the government is clean, and is demonstrating that it’s clean, and not ripping off its citizens. And if you don’t do that, then special interests take advantage of the situation, and sometimes outside interests gain undue influence in the country. So, if you want to have a strong, vibrant democracy, you need to fight corruption. If you want to attract business, you need to fight corruption. If you want to attract foreign investment, they want to know that if they come here and create jobs and create opportunity, that the playing field is going to be level for them as well, and if they have problems, that they’re going to be able to deal with them rather than having a few folks rip them off as well.

Question: There are a considerable number of [inaudible] Albanians who have become part of terrorist groups, like ISIS, and Al-Nusra. How do you see Kosovo? Is Kosovo in danger of extremism, and what do you think about the threat of violent extremism in Kosovo?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Well, violent extremism threatens all of us. It threatens peace and security across the planet, as you know. We all have an interest in working against this. Kosovo has particular challenges. You’ve also taken strong measures already. You have passed, for example, very good legislation, which criminalizes going to fight in an extremist way. You’ve criminalized financing for foreign fighters, but now these things need to be implemented. You also need to continue to get out into the community and ensure that there’s good education, that you’re spreading the word that these extremist messages are dangerous, that kids are being poisoned by these messages, that there’s nothing to be gained by using violence as a weapon of political expression, that those kinds of things tear countries apart. Kosovo is making good efforts. You need to continue to do it. It has to be done not just at the government level but at every single kitchen table. Parents need to talk to their children about this. Communities need to talk about the dangers of extremism, because otherwise, these kinds of things take root, and democracy can’t flourish.

Question: Ms. Nuland, thank you for your time.

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Thank you very much, Burim, for the opportunity to be with you. I appreciate it.