Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci spoke with RFE/RL's Nikola Krastev in New York one day after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution aimed at opening the way for dialogue between Belgrade and Kosovo. Whether that will actually happen remains unclear. Kosovo's declaration of independence has so far been recognized by 70 of the United Nations' 192 member states.
RFE/RL: After the adoption of the resolution, what's next?
Hashim Thaci: [We propose equal relations] to all our neighbors: to Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro, and we wait to have a good cooperation with Serbia too and in this direction we will work to cooperate as two independent states for better life of our citizens, for our countries and for our peoples.
RFE/RL: Are there any additional incentives you can offer to Serbia to accept this new political reality?
Thaci: I think it's time Serbia to accept the reality and to take a historical decision to recognize the independence of Kosovo because it is the only solution for the better future for Kosovo and for the region, for stability and regional cooperation, and Serbia will recognize the independence of Kosovo [whether Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk] Jeremic likes it or not.
RFE/RL: Are you ready to talk directly with the Serbian President Boris Tadic?
Thaci: We are ready to have direct meetings for cooperation between two states because we had direct meetings with other presidents and prime ministers of the region, and the cooperation is a healthy [policy] for our countries.
RFE/RL: In terms of priorities for Kosovo's foreign policy, where do you place relations with Serbia?
Thaci: It is a usual priority as for all [our] neighbors, but we never forget that Serbia led genocide in Kosovo. But we look forward -- we look for -- cooperation in the future.
RFE/RL: How do you feel about the Serbian claim that Kosovo is the birthplace of their nation, the cradle of the Serbian history and culture?
Thaci: Kosovo is a country of people -- of Kosovo: Serbs, Albanians, Montenegrins, and all others. Kosovo is a country with the [European Union] perspective and Serbia is a state -- it is our neighbor and nothing more, nothing less. What they ask is mentally the old mentality from [late Serbian President] Slobodan Milosevic. Because they repeat just, "Slobodan Milosevic" -- nothing more, nothing less.
RFE/RL: What's your strategy to deal with the organized crime in Kosovo? It's been considered a serious problem?
Thaci: We started after 11 years that we were quiet about that. We started, we will continue, and we will be [creating] laws to fight corruption and organized crime. We started with success and we will continue, because the key to build the country is to have good governance, a rule of law, and to work as soon as possible to stabilize the process even in the north [Kosovo] of Mitrovica.
RFE/RL: How did you feel yesterday at the UN General Assembly when Serbia delegation initially requested yours and other Kosovo officials' expulsion from the General Assembly hall?
Thaci: Our presence was legitimate and legal in the General Assembly. What Serbia played was...a child's game. It was something that could have happened during the Cold War time.
RFE/RL: What message would you like to pass to the Serbian leadership?
Thaci: To recognize the independence of Kosovo as soon as possible is the best choice for them and for the future of Serbia, too, and for the region.