23 December 2007

Agency Antonina Zhelyazkova, Chairperson of the International Center for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations (IMIR), in an interview with Focus News Agency.

FOCUS: Mrs. Zhelyazkova, how do you think the Kosovo issue will develop? Do you expect a unilateral declaration of independence and when?

Antonina Zhelyazkova: The fact that nothing happened on December 10th was expected. In such talks the dates are absolutely conditional. I suppose that in the near future, after the new Kosovo government made some curtsies to the international institutions – some waiting, ect. – I think Kosovo independence will be declared sooner or later; no matter whether it will be declared by the Kosovan government or an agreement will be reached within the EU. From then on I foresee a great wave of refugees from Kosovo – Serbs, Roma, Ashkali. They, in no way, will be pleased with living in an independent Kosovo. The international humanitarian agencies should be ready for a new wave of refugees.

FOCUS: Even if there is a joint EU decision, Russia’s position…

Antonina Zhelyazkova: The EU’s decision is very important. Some time ago there was information that Serbia will be proposed steps for acceding the Union. This seemed to me a very good compensation for Serbia. Of course, there is not a single politician who wants to remain in the history as the person who ceded national territories. I suppose Serbian politicians will not accept the term “compensation” – we give you a quick track to join the EU in exchange for keeping calm when Kosovo declares independence. I do not think Serbian politicians will take it easy, but in any case it is a good offer and whole Serbia should think over it. If there were an option for a quick EU accession, this would probably cushion the strike of the Kosovo province breaking away from Serbia, would strengthen the security in the region. A quick EU accession for Serbia would be a good variant for Bulgaria as well because we are connected to Serbia via infrastructure. Calmness and investments in Serbia will reflect well on Bulgaria’s economy.

First, I heard there is such a proposal, and then it was denied … I do not know whether Serbia will be presented with it. I think it would be a reasonable approach on the side of the EU.FOCUS: What do you think about Bulgaria’s stand?

Antonina Zhelyazkova: Some political analyzers assess Bulgaria’s stand on the Kosovo issue as “impersonal” in a way. I do not think so. I believe Bulgaria has an extremely correct, moderate, balanced and, as far as it is possible, fair position to both Serbia and Albanians. I approve of the moves of the Bulgarian foreign policy. As an independent analyzer, I think many people will heed the Bulgarian stand.

FOCUS: How do you see the long-term development of the situation?

Antonina Zhelyazkova: The Albanian nation will unite in one or another way. It will live through its revival and probably there will be a large Albanian federation or confederation. In any case this requires a prompt reaction towards Serbia. The Serbs, no matter where they are, have been treated many times by double standard. The international community had an extremely ugly double standard towards the refugees in Kosovo – when Albanians were fleeing Kosovo in 1999 and later when Serbs and Roma were fleeing. The approach of the international community, international humanitarian organization was completely different. When the Albanians left, they received the whole support of the world, although it was temporary. In the second case, the Serbs and Roma are living even today in miserable conditions without any good perspective ahead. Source: Focus Information Agency