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President Thaci: Kosovo Committed to NATO, Euro-Atlantic Mechanisms


Kosovo's president, Hashim Thaci, gives an exclusive interview to VOA's Albanian service, April, 15, 2016.

Kosovo's president, Hashim Thaci, gives an exclusive interview to VOA's Albanian service, April, 15, 2016.

Hashim Thaçi, who was sworn in April 7 as Kosovo's president, says he remains committed to his country's quick integration into NATO and other Euro-Atlantic mechanisms and to continuing the process of normalizing relations with Serbia and fighting against Islamic fundamentalism.

In his first media interview as president, Thaci told VOA's Albanian service Friday that he will address all the problems cited in the U.S. State Department's recently released human rights report covering 2015, and will work to unify Kosovo and represent all its citizens.

Thaçi said he recognized as serious problems the areas of concern highlighted in the State Department report. The report cited the obstruction, sometimes violent, of the country's parliament by opposition deputies who blocked free debate and the passage of legislation; endemic government and private-sector corruption and lack of punishment for corruption; and societal violence and discrimination against members of minority groups.

While Kosovo's legislative branch is now functioning properly, Thaçi said, much more needs to be done to address the other two areas. He said he would discuss with experts in Kosovo and abroad the changes to the country's penal code needed to make its judiciary effective in punishing crime.

Countering criticism by his opponents, Thaçi said the dialogue with Serbia has been beneficial for both Kosovo and Serbia, as well as the entire Balkan region.

Kosovo's president said an uncompromising fight against Islamic radicalization and all forms of extremism is high on his agenda. In close cooperation with regional and international powers, he said, Kosovo will eradicate such dangerous elements domestically and fight them beyond the country's borders.

Kosovo's parliament elected Thaçi, 47, to replace Atifete Jahjaga as president Feb. 26. The vote was boycotted by opposition lawmakers, who had earlier tried to disrupt voting by using tear gas.

Kosovo has established a tradition of new presidents giving their first press interview exclusively to the Voice of America's Albanian Service.

VOA's Albanian Service contributed to this report.

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