22 December 2019 President Meta: Serbia to stop campaigns against Kosovo’s integration into regional initiatives and international institutions!
Journalist: Thank you Mr. President for this interview. I know it is an emergency state in your country, Albania. We all know the number of casualties. With 51 casualties and many buildings crashed how to go further after the earthquake?
President Meta: I have to thank you very much for taking interest in Albania, and to the latest developments, considering a terrible earthquake that hit our country on November 26. As you said it was very tragic. 51 Albanians lost their lives, many others were injured and many buildings were crashed, and many others were damaged and thousands of people are very eager to be integrated in their normal life, which it will take some time.
For the moment we are focused on providing shelter and other indispensable services for all the people who cannot return to their homes, at the same time, we are measuring and calculating the damage and the level of damage, for the safety of their houses and constructions, and very soon we will have a very concrete action plan for the rebuilding and for the recovering of all the consequences by this earthquake.
I have to thank all the international community. All the countries in the region, including Bosnia Herzegovina, for their solidarity, and this earthquake, this terrible earthquake in Albania shows how much important is the work and corporation globally, and for all the countries in the region to face civil emergencies because now we are aware that more and more we have to face consequences not only of earthquakes but also of flooding and other natural disasters, fires, or whatever, and we need to face it immediately and on time and it is difficult to have someone coming earlier to help you than the neighbours.
Journalist: Are you satisfied by the reaction of your government here in Albania after the earthquake and other institutions here in Albania?
President Meta: All the institutions have been committed immediately to face the consequences and they are still going on to improve the mechanisms of facing these consequences. For e very long time Albania has not been hit by such a destructive earthquake, but also we have seen our weaknesses and how to improve them in the future. But we are very satisfied with the international reaction. With the reaction of Kosovo, Northern Macedonia, and of other countries in the region that provided their expertize. Serbia, your country, Montenegro, Croatia, because everyone was coming here but the neighbouring countries responded immediately.
Journalist: You said that calculations are in progress, calculations of damages, is there any number of how much money Albania needs to start recovering, start building the homes?
President Meta: It will come after the technical assessment because we are in the process of verification, that is still ongoing, and there are different standards of damages and of interventions that are needed for recovering all this consequences. But of course there is a huge damage, but first of all they are committed to allocate our domestic financial resources for that and also asking the international support based that they are very credible and reliable assessment.
Journalist: A mini-Schengen initiative has been launched recently between Albania, Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Is this a way to have better cooperation in the Balkans or are we better off with CEFTA agreements? There are various opinions …
President Meta: We have so many regional cooperation platforms.
Any regional co-operation platform that is all inclusive is welcome. This should be a prerequisite for promoting and considering promising and rewarding regional initiatives.
Initiatives that help our cooperation are always welcomed, but not by provoking unnecessary debates, trying to marginalize someone or one country, or give protagonism to someone else.
Only partnership and inclusion can increase trust between countries, between people and can reduce and eliminate all barriers, whether legal, administrative or bureaucratic in our region.
Journalist: I believe you know the relations between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. How would you comment on the relationship between these two countries, but now also of the new state of Kosovo?
President Meta: I have done my best in my political career to promote relations between all countries in the region, including Serbia.
I was the first Prime Minister of Albania to meet the late former Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in an attempt to create a new era of relations between Serbia and Albania, but in general between Albanians and Serbs.
Also, in relation to Bosnia, I have done my best in my previous positions as Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Speaker of Parliament and now as President. I see Bosnia as a country of particular importance to the stability and credibility of the entire region.
We know there are some difficulties, but we hope and pray that these difficulties will be overcome by the maturity of your country’s leaders, because there is only one way for all Bosnian citizens, in order to leave behind the bitter past for good, and this is the coexistence and harmony between all those living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European integration, and also having excellent relations with all your neighbouring countries like Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro.
In this regard, we do not think we are far from Bosnia and we are looking forward to improving the infrastructure.
We also hope to establish a direct airline in order to strengthen our relationship in the future and make the most of this bilateral cooperation.
Journalist: Another problem in the region is Kosovo’s tax on Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. What is your opinion, should this tax stay or should it be abolished?
President Meta: When they decided to impose the tax they didn’t ask me, but I am not in favour of adding barriers to relations between countries in the region, because the future should be open and borderless cooperation and without obstacles.
We all aspire to be part of the European Union. I therefore hope that Kosovo will consider as soon as possible the possibility of further improving trade and general relations, not only with Bosnia but also with Serbia. That would be very helpful.
Also on the other hand, Serbia should stop this campaign against Kosovo’s integration into regional initiatives or international institutions. As is the case with Interpol membership.
Everyone in the region is aware that organized crime is one of the main problems in all our countries, and Kosovo’s membership in Interpol facilitates cooperation, not only Kosovo’s with Interpol, but for the entire region is a contribution to fighting organized crime in this region.
I do not understand why Serbia would take such a position, in my opinion, not very reasonable and not at all constructive.
However, I believe in dialogue, partnership and hope that soon the parties will sit at the dialogue table and we are strongly in favour of full normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Journalist: We started this conversation with an earthquake question and I want to end with a quake question. Is there any information about the possibility of another earthquake?
President Meta: I am not a scientist, but I would be very careful about the risk of earthquakes in Albania and the region, because if we follow closely all these developments and this frequency of earthquakes in other countries like Greece, Italy, Bosnia, etc., it is clear that we are in a very sensitive area.
I have studied economics and one of the main subjects of economics study is statistics and probability. On this basis, we must always be prepared to face such a civil emergency, because we cannot predict it exactly, but we must be responsible and visionary.
We never want it to happen anywhere in the world, but if it does, we must be ready to face all the consequences, because the responsibility of leaders is not to cry at such moments, but to lead and command this operation. Encourage, give hope to the people, by always having highly professional rescue teams and very well organized and centralized response in such cases.
Journalist: President Meta, thank you very much!
President Meta: It is a great pleasure to have you here and I would like to greet all your television followers and the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I love your place! You have a very beautiful place, because I’m from a mountainous origin. I was born on a mountain in the south-east of Albania and that is why I enjoy your mountains, the fantastic landscapes and the hospitality of the people in Bosnia.
Journalist: Thank you and we look forward to seeing you soon in Sarajevo…
President Meta: I look forward to coming to Sarajevo. One of the places I hate to go by plane and I like to go by car is Bosnia and Herzegovina, because along the way you can enjoy nature, it is very beautiful.