German economist, Martin Heipertz, spent several years in Kosovo as deputy head of the industrial and financial sector of the International Civilian Office, which later evolved into an EU mission in the region (EULEX).
After his time in Kosovo, Heipertz wrote a book called “Macchiato diplomacy — Kosovo — the blind zone of Europe”, he spoke about it to Sputnik Serbia.
Sputnik: Why coffee?
Martin Heipertz: Coffee has always been a symbol of friendly chatter and rest. Sipping coffee, they say something about everything. And we never spoke about serious political issues while drinking coffe. In Henry Kissinger’s epic book, “Diplomacy”, he develops the concept of strategic policy, and my book is a reverse story, which shows that all diplomacy in this case was reduced to talking over a cup of coffee.
Sputnik: What does it mean — the blind zone of Europe?
Martin Heipertz: I think as a motorist. You don’t see what’s happening in the blind zone. This applies to Kosovo — that’s how in Western and Central Europe the issue of Kosovo is perceived. The matter is sometimes raised before society, and then again forgotten, and no one talks about it. And it’s necessary to talk about Kosovo constantly, it shouldn’t be in the blind zone.
Sputnik: Does this mean that Kosovo as a state is a failed project?
Martin Heipertz: Kosovo is an inefficient project that shows us an example of how a quasi-state looks.
putnik: So Europe made a mistake recognizing the independence of Kosovo?
Martin Heipertz: Everyone should answer this question based on their own interests. If we think that it was possible to find a better solution, then we are mistaken.
Sputnik: There wasn’t one?
Martin Heipertz: When I arrived in Kosovo, the decision (on recognition of independence) had already been made, so I do not know if there was an alternative. But if someone asked me, I would say that the best solution for Kosovo would be the Tyrol model, an autonomy. Kosovo’s autonomy within Serbia. But I don’t know if it would have been realistic and if it wasn’t too late to make such a decision.
Sputnik: Can something from what you’ve mentioned still be realized now?
Martin Heipertz: I think time has already passed and no other decision on Kosovo can be made now.
Sputnik: In your book you often mention corruption as the main problem in Kosovo. You worked in the international administration system, how large is the system’s responsibility for the problem remaining unsolved?
Martin Heipertz: The Bible says that we tend to see the speck in our brother’s eye but fail to notice the beam in our own eye. Corruption is a problem in many states, it’s not only the problem of Kosovo. We at EULEX wanted to create a legal state, and this turned out to be a very high goal, so we failed to reach it. Our result was very bad. I don’t criticize the fact that corruption rules in Kosovo, but us, because we couldn’t do anything about it.
Sputnik: You’ve said that the United States played a critical role is the Kosovo issue. Why did Europe agree to it?
Martin Heipertz: I’m often pretty provocative talking about European impotence. I think Europe can’t show itself as a force, because it does not have an inner unity. We need a political union, a political union within the EU in order to implement coordinated foreign policy. That we can also impliment by military means in some cases.
Sputnik: In other words, does the EU need its own army?
Martin Heipertz: Yes. We lack political unity and therefore lack a common foreign policy and a unified army.
Sputnik: But what about NATO?
Martin Heipertz: NATO is a collective security system, not an instrument of active foreign policy. That’s why we are divided and weak, and we give, so to speak, the battlefield to America, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia. We have a strong economy, but there’s no common foreign policy.
Sputnik: Should recognition of Kosovo’s independence be a condition for Serbia’s accession to the EU?
Martin Heipertz: I don’t want to compare the situation, but West Germany couldn’t pursue a foreign policy towards Russia and the East, until it reconciled and became accustomed to the idea of losing the eastern territories. Serbia will be able to normalize political relations with the EU if it gets used to the idea of losing Kosovo.
Sputnik: What do you think of the Spanish non-paper document on Kosovo’s European integration?
Martin Heipertz: I wouldn’t recommend equating the attitude of Spain and the EU towards Kosovo.