Dialogue „factory settings“

Blerim Shala Bljerim Šalja
Bljerim Šalja u kolumni na +38…

By Blerim Shala

The idea that the most difficult period in history is the one when it is clear that the old era has failed or died, and the new one is struggling to be born, is associated with the famous Italian philosopher and Marxist, Antonio Gramsci.

Taking into consideration Gramsci’s wholly accurate thinking, it has been in effect, if we can say so, in Europe and the world since the winter of last year, when Russia started the invasion/war in Ukraine, and it, unfortunately, gained strength after the bloody events (the end of which is not yet visible), in Israel and Palestine.

That famous sentence (brilliant, as it almost always is when it comes to Winston Churchill), with which Janjić started our new correspondence through KoSSev, that so much history is produced in the Balkans that it simply cannot be digested by the people of this part of Europe – seems to ring true for the whole world since last year.

It is clear, at least for now, that it is completely unclear what will give rise to all this (as Gramsci would say), and what the world will be like after all these heavy and devastating „earthquakes“ that hit Europe and the world.

This news, or rather the obvious fact, seems to have not yet taken the form of a stable policy in this part of Europe, which is still under the threat of problematic or dangerous influences, especially from the Russian Federation.

The last visit to the Western Balkans by Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the NATO Alliance, who held meetings with the leaders of all six countries (three of which are members of the NATO Pact – Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia, and three of which are not – Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina), was supposed to reiterate the position of the official Brussels, whether it is the political (European Union) or the military wing (NATO Pact) – that the peace and stability of the Western Balkans are of extreme importance to the West.

That is, if we continue reading Churchill’s statements, that it is time for the Western Balkans to take a little „rest“ from the intensive production of history, which was particularly evident in recent months when it came to the north of Kosovo. The culmination of all that happened took place more than two months ago, that is, on September 24 of this year in the events in and around Banjska, about which there are no ambiguities or unknowns.

Banjska, as they say, has returned Brussels dialogue between the representatives of Kosovo and Serbia to „factory settings“ (read: to French – German – American settings), which at least for now, in this very important year (as the main Western mediators or negotiators have said) of the dialogue that has been going on since the distant year 1998 – has nowhere reached anything resembling results.

Namely, after two surprisingly quick agreements regarding the Basic Agreement (Brussels, February 27) and the Annex in Ohrid (Ohrid, March 18), between the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, when the implementation of these agreements was expected, which according to the interpretation of Brussels and Washington have the strength of legally binding agreements (although none have been signed) – there has been a complete blockage in their implementation.

That is to say, for those who were even a little bit up to speed with everything that happened in the north of Kosovo before these achievements of Brussels and Washington (since November of last year when local Serbian politicians, officials, policemen, judges and prosecutors left the Kosovo institutions), it was clear that the main negotiators of the European Union in Ohrid, that is, the high official Josep Borrell and the EU’s special envoy for this dialogue, Miroslav Lajčak, failed to see, as they say, the „elephant in the room“.

Everything that happened next within this dialogue, that is, in the non-implementation of these verbal agreements, is a direct consequence of the political and diplomatic „blindness“ of Borrell and Lajčak.

This time, the „elephant in the room“ took on an obvious form of new local elections in four municipalities in the north of Kosovo (North Mitrovica, Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok), which have been without legitimate authorities since November last year.

The elections were already postponed once, and then scheduled for April 21. Therefore, it was not at all difficult to come to the conclusion, even in those late hours of March 18 in Ohrid (I wrote about this right after this Agreement on the Annex to the Basic Agreement for the Albanian-language media), that if a solution for the participation of the Serbs is not found soon in the north in these new municipal elections, that in fact nothing will come of the implementation of the two Agreements in the process of normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

These elections were the means without which it is impossible to reach, step by step, the goal, which in this context meant that all ten paragraphs of the Basic Agreement be completed as part of the new relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

How did anyone (on the part of the main negotiators) imagine that anything could actually be done regarding these two Agreements, without the participation of local Serbs in the April elections, and without returning to some kind of normal political and security situation in the north of Kosovo, that is a question that actually has a clear answer, and it concerns the full responsibility of Brussels for more than half a year lost in wandering to find a solution where there was none, and where there could not be one.

Everything that happened in the north of Kosovo from March until now, in all dimensions (including the security dimension) is a direct consequence of this error of the main negotiators of the European Union in ‘reading’ the reality in Kosovo.

Borrell himself, we remember it well, when the process of the European proposal (that is, the French-German proposal) on the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia was launched last fall, he said (correctly) that everyone had had enough of „crisis management“, and that all parties must focus on reaching a political agreement.

But, because it was not understood that there would be no implementation of both agreements if the known security challenges were not solved in time (they mainly concerned the security-political vacuum that was created in the north after November last year) – we arrived at the point where we are now, realistically without a clear perspective regarding the process of normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Next year, as we all know, will be an election year both in the European Union (elections for the European Parliament) and in the US (presidential elections).

In this context, it would be a real miracle, if a great leap forward is made in this process of normalization in relations between Kosovo and Serbia next year.



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