Ilazi: The Brussels Agreement is a historic peace agreement, but Kosovo and Serbia are further from the normalization of relations than in 2013

Dan Iljazi
Foto: Medija Centar

Kosovo and Serbia are further from the normalization of relations today than they were in 2013. We are at a point where we have to normalize the dialogue, chief researcher of the Kosovo Center for Security Studies, Dan Ilazi, said in a statement for KoSSev.

On this day, the then Serbian and Kosovo Prime Ministers, Ivica Dačić and Hashim Thaci respectively, initialed the „First Agreement of principles governing the normalization of relations „, from the so-called Brussels Agreement.

Out of fifteen points of the agreement, six refer to the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities, which has not yet been formed due to Pristina’s refusal to do so.

The document primarily tackled the integration of the north of Kosovo into the Kosovo system. Local Serbs initially became a part of its implementation mainly through the efforts of Belgrade and the Srpska Lista party.

A decade later, with the encouragement of Belgrade and SL, Serbs from the North collectively withdrew from the same Kosovo institutions into which, as per the same agreement, led by these political centers, they were integrated in previous years.

„Historic peace agreement“ and „first step“

„The 2013 agreement was a historic peace agreement marking the first instance in which Kosovo and Serbia reached a consensus at the highest levels of political leadership,“ Dan Ilazi assessed 11 years later.

He confirmed that the 2013 agreement was crucial for „growing the institutional authority of Kosovo“ on the one hand and „facilitating the integration of the Serbian community in the north“ on the other.

Moreover, he recalled that this agreement also led to the first Kosovo municipal elections in the north, and progress in the process of integration of the judiciary and the Kosovo Police.
On the other hand, Ilazi recalled the Kosovo institution’s commitments after the adoption of the Brussels Agreement:

„Just three days after the agreement was reached in Brussels, the Assembly of Kosovo convened an extraordinary session on April 22 and adopted the agreement through a resolution of support. Subsequently, on May 28, the government passed the agreement into law and the Assembly ratified it as an international agreement, with 84 out of 120 votes in favor, three against, and one abstention. In 2015, the Constitutional Court of Kosovo confirmed the compliance of the agreement with the constitution, confirming that the establishment of the Association/Community of Municipalities with a Serbian majority (ASM) is in accordance with the constitutional requirements and incorporated into the legal framework of Kosovo.“

These obligations are still pending for Pristina, given the months-long international efforts aimed at the Kosovo authorities forwarding the draft of this association (drafted by the EU) to the Constitutional Court for constitutionality assessment. The ASM was also listed now as a post-accession obligation for Kosovo if it formally becomes the youngest member of the Council of Europe.

Ilazi also listed the advantages that Kosovo achieved with this agreement: establishing contractual relations with the European Union by signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) in 2015, which entered into force in 2016.

„Furthermore, it led to the signing of the Framework Agreement in 2017, which enabled Kosovo’s participation in EU programs. These developments opened numerous opportunities for the sectors of Kosovo to improve exchange with the EU and have brought concrete benefits to all citizens,“ he said.

There used to be effective democratic monitoring of the dialogue, which is completely absent today

In addition, he sees the reach of the Brussels Agreement in what is no longer present today – the dialogue of two parties within a democratic process.

„The 2013 agreement also serves as a very positive example of effective democratic monitoring in the normalization dialogue, which is completely lacking today,“ Ilazi emphasized.

Reverse integration process

He also noted the negative trends for the Kosovo side when it comes to the implementation of the Brussels Agreement.

„Unfortunately, Kosovo has experienced setbacks since the 2013 agreement, with key aspects such as judicial integration, police cooperation and municipal integration taking on a reverse course. Kosovo and Serbia are further from the normalization of relations today than they were in 2013.”

We are at the point where we have to ‘normalize the dialogue’ before we can expect any tangible results from this process, this security expert from Pristina alerted.

He sees the reasons behind this in several factors, that is, responsibility on both sides.

„Several factors contributed to this situation, including the actions and inactions of the current Kosovo government, as well as President Vučić’s interest in maintaining the status quo in the north of Kosovo. In addition, the perceptions that the dialogue was asymmetrical and that Kosovo was treated unfairly significantly undermined the credibility of the EU and the process itself,“ Ilazi concluded for KoSSev.

Preuzimanje i objavljivanje tekstova sa portala KoSSev nije dozvoljeno bez navođenja izvora. Hvala na poštovanju etike novinarske profesije.