Asylum Seekers

Kosovans Should Stay Home, Says Foreign Minister

Hashim Thaçi was once a refugee himself.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The state of Kosovo, which is just a few years old, is at risk of experiencing a brain drain if the exodus of its people continues.

  • Facts


    • In the first half of 2015, 45 percent of asylum seekers in Germany came from the western Balkans.
    • Migrants from countries that are considered “safe” have almost no chance of staying.
    • The European Commission president has called for the bloc to spread the burden of taking in 160,000 migrants.
  • Audio


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Hashim Thaçi is the foreign minister and vice-premier of Kosovo. The 47-year-old helped found and led the Kosovo Liberation Army during the Balkan war, and at one time sought asylum in Switzerland. He knows what it’s like to be a refugee, and spoke recently about Europe’s current migration crisis.


Handelsblatt: Mr. Thaçi, Europe is involved in a controversy about the right way to handle refugees and migrants. What is the position of Kosovo?

Hashim Thaçi: As a country that was devastated during the 1990s by the civil war, we have a deep understanding for the desperate situation of wartime refugees, such as those now coming from Syria. Germany is providing exemplary help. I share the opinion of Chancellor Angela Merkel that we need a joint solution in Europe. We all have to work together in order to meet this great challenge. There is no doubt that these refugees want to reach Germany, Austria and Scandinavia in order to make a contribution to freedom and peace. Therefore we must join together in Europe to help them.

But there is not much solidarity in Europe. What stance should the European Union adopt?

An important lesson that can be learned from Kosovo is to change conditions in the countries of origin. These persons have not left their country willingly. They were forced to flee. In most cases, they abandoned their previous lives in order to save their lives. It is quite probable that many will return whenever conditions in their homeland permit.

Does Europe need fixed refugee quotas for every country, such as Germany and Austria are demanding?

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