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Analysts: Progress in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue is difficult, in the absence of sustainable solutions

2023-11-13 19:02:14, Denoncim CNA

Analysts: Progress in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue is difficult, in the absence of

The chief negotiators of Kosovo and Serbia are expected to meet on Thursday in Brussels to discuss the responsibilities arising from the Franco-German plan for both countries. The meeting comes after the German, French and Italian leaders clarified their expectations towards Kosovo and Serbia for the process of normalizing relations between them and after the European Commission criticized the parties for lack of commitment to this process. However, those familiar with the developments between the two countries say that Serbia's attitude towards Kosovo has only hardened and that if there is no long-term strategy for sustainable solutions between the two countries, the pressure from the West will not bring any change.

On the eve of a new meeting between Kosovo and Serbia negotiators this week in Brussels, those familiar with the developments between the two countries see a number of shortcomings in the approach of the EU and the United States and their efforts to push Kosovo and Serbia towards implementation of an agreement based on the model presented by international negotiators.

Jolyon Naegele, former UN official in Kosovo and the first coordinator of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia during the mandate of UNMIK in 2003, in an interview for the Voice of America, criticizes the international community that in the last 20 years has not offered long term solutions.

"There is a double standard in the policy of the United States as well as in the policy of some European Union states regarding Kosovo and Serbia... The international community, including those who were present in Kosovo in the last 20 years, have consistently failed to long-term projections and understand that the issues they are facing will not disappear but will only worsen if left unresolved," says former senior UNMIK official Naegele.

International relations expert at the University of Westminster, Aidan Hehir, also considers that the region is unclear as to what the EU's intentions are in the Western Balkans.

According to him, in the conditions of the change in the geostrategic situation, the European Union and the United States have focused their efforts on bringing Serbia closer to the West.

"This means asking Kosovo to make a bunch of concessions to Serbia... The whole negotiation process has turned into an attempt to give Vucic something to get closer to the West and away from Russia," he says.

"This strategy is based on the idea that this contributes to order and stability in the region. "If we curb Russia's interference, then we will be able to have a calmer region closer to our interests." This idea has failed. "Serbia has become bolder these five years, it has become more authoritarian internally and to destabilize Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and, to a lesser extent, North Macedonia," adds Mr. Hehir.

Mr. Naegele considers that during a decade of dialogue, Serbia's position has already hardened in relation to Kosovo.

"Things have only gotten worse. There is no will for progress – Serbia, secured by Moscow, is playing for time, believing that by dragging this issue out, the international situation will eventually be in favor of them and Moscow's interests,” says Mr. Naegele. .

Mr. Hehir considers the recent public stance of the leaders of France, Germany and Britain, who asked the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, to start the process of forming the association and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vu?i?, the practical recognition of Kosovo's independence from Serbia. a request that should have been made a decade ago.

"I think that the government of Kosovo has shown its willingness to compromise. In the opposition, Mr. Kurti was a vocal opponent of the association, while now from his position in the government, he has shown himself to be open to the idea of ??creating the association, although not in the same form as the previous variant that was against the constitution," says the expert. from the University of Westminster.

However, Mr. Hehir says that Mr. Kurti is right that he does not accept the implementation of the association before receiving some guarantees about the status of Kosovo.

"We cannot have a situation where Kosovo is expected to implement all these policies that could be very dangerous for it, that give Serbia significant influence in Kosovo, that encourage Kosovo Serbs to break away from the central government of Kosovo . It would be crazy to implement them before Serbia clearly proves that it accepts Kosovo's right to exist," he says.

Mr. Naegele says that the statement of the three European leaders is a positive development, but the chances are small that it will affect the positions of the parties.

"Nothing will change unless the two sides decide to do something (concrete). (The Declaration) is positive in the sense that it clearly states what needs to be done, instead of non-commitment or statements that call on the parties to take some action with the common language of the EU which, as we see in the Kosovo report, should be read between the lines... But the process will not progress if the EU representatives do not gather the parties in the same room. They have to be more persistent with them," says Mr. Naegele.

Mr. Naegele says that it is the last chance for the countries of the European Union to discuss Belgrade's behavior and condition Serbia's progress towards European integration with its attitude towards Kosovo.

For Mr. Hehir, if the goal of the dialogue is only to create stability between Kosovo and Serbia, this goal will be unstable in the future.

"In the case of the dialogue process, if the goal is only to create stability between these two countries, in the long term it will be unstable because it will encourage Serbian nationalism and make people in Kosovo unhappy... It will create discontent, riots and will become a source of destabilization... An independent Kosovo is not a threat to anyone. A warlike Serbia is a threat to everyone," he added.

But the lack of progress in the dialogue mediated by the EU, Mr. Naegele also attributes to the actors engaged in the normalization dialogue - Mr. Vucic, minister of Slobodan Milosevic and currently an ally of the Serbian radical parties in Serbia, and Mr. Kurti, a political prisoner of the Milosevic regime and then leader who has used dramatic actions in the last 16 years.

"You have to be very optimistic, not to say naive, to believe that these two individuals will be willing to agree on an agreement, stick to it, and then be expected to implement it," Mr. Naegele said. .

In the conditions when the internal politics in the two countries are fueled by debates about the disagreements in the normalization process, analysts think that a clear vision and strategy for sustainable solutions by Western negotiators, including the recognition of Kosovo, are necessary to avoid the failure of further./ VOA

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