November 8, 1993 Vreme News Digest Agency No 111

Interview with Shkelzen Maliqi

A Fictitious Bridge

by Violeta Orosi

When asked whether he really believed that ethnic Albanians in Kosovo would take part in the forthcoming elections and whether he personally would run as a candidate, Shkelzen Maliqi replied, ``No. There are no conditions whatsoever for Albanians to take part in Serbia's political life, either directly or in large numbers. I never considered putting up my candidacy. However, I realized that it was important to raise the question of Kosovo, which may be of utmost importance as regards the Serbian elections. The opposition is weak and divided, so Kosovo appears to be the only weak spot of the Serbian regime. If they decide to vote, Albanians pose a potential threat.''

VREME: Is that the reason why you've raised this question?

MALIQI: One might say that it was a kind of tactical threat. Albanians boycotting the elections will suit the Serbian regime most. The regime has a considerable headstart since it may count on about 10% of the parliamentary seats. However, if an independent group of Albanians ran in the elections, despite of the resistance by the Albanian political parties, and if only 10% of the Albanian voters cast their ballots, the Serbian regime would lose its advantage. Having realized a potential danger, the Serbian authorities have begun a campaign aimed at discrediting the idea.

The means are well known: they have started to praise us, while promoting us. The immediate reaction of the Albanian media as well as the Albanian political parties was vehement.

* So, why have you, in the first place, raised the question of Albanians taking part in the elections, if you had been originally aware that the odds of this really happening are nil and that the reaction would be so strong?

This was the only possible way of showing the depth of the Kosovo issue within the framework of severely afflicted political life in Serbia. It is important to show what would happen if Albanians voted. On the other hand, it is thus easier to comprehend what a deep rift there is between Kosovo and Serbia. There is no bridge where we could meet, and even if you tried to build a pontoon bridge, it would be destroyed on both ends.