The most realistic scenario is a standstill in the negotiations until the appointment of Federica Mogherini’s successor next autumn. A less likely scenario would be that the three Brussels negotiators put a proposal on an agreement on the table, which they have been publicly talking about since summer. This proposal, however, would not succeed, but it would lead to a serious political and perhaps a security crisis in the region where Kosovo Serbs would suffer the most – a senior associate of the Berlin Council for Democratization, Bodo Weber told KoSSev. He also commented on the correspondence between Haradinaj-Mogherini and the overseas letters from the White House sent to the Serbian and Kosovo presidents, as well as the current rise in tensions.
The exchange of letters, internal clashes between Kosovo President Thaci and Prime Minister Haradinaj, the escalation of the relationship between the Kosovo government and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini left a vast margin for speculation on what would be the solution for overcoming the current crisis in relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
The idea of ethnic delimitation or partition, which was believed to have failed, is again referred to as a possible solution whose main proponents are the presidents Vucic and Thaci, and it is speculated that they have the support of US President Trump. This idea is allegedly being realized behind the scenes. On the other hand, Kosovo Prime Minister Haradinaj decisively rejects the possibility of reaching such an agreement and his firm stance against the removal of a 100% customs duty, which was the catalyst of this crisis, seems to make it difficult to reach any solution.
We are in the sphere of speculation, Weber said. He emphasized that since September’s visit of President Vucic to the North, the idea of exchanging territory seemed dead, as it was met with resistance from the largest number of EU member states, headed by Germany, he explains.
Weber, however, pointed out that it is not possible to exclude the scenario that the negotiating trio will „suddenly“ be able to present its version of the agreement in the hope that the public will accept it when they present it as historical.
Also, there is a fear that proponents of the exchange of territories would choose scenarios of violent incidents in order to establish a border on the Ibar via a fait accompli – Weber warned.
„It cannot be completely excluded, especially in the standstill situation until the autumn of next year,“ he said, emphasizing that this should be prevented at all costs.
„Moreover, such a scenario cannot succeed in reality – just look at the unrest of 2011, which led to political dialogue, not to the partition of Kosovo,“ he said.
Weber expressed doubt in the possibility of another variation which is expected by many and that the latest diplomatic efforts of writing letters will prove to be fruitful.
„Trump’s letter, as well as the letter from the gentlemen from Brussels, will sooner prove to be a desperate attempt to ‘save’ a negotiating process before the departure of the current European Commission, for whose failure those Western actors are to blame, who thought that by ignoring the principle on which political dialogue was built and which gave significant initial results they could solve the problem between Kosovo and Serbia, instead of offering a stable and lasting solution,“ Weber underlined.
„The US administration is sending out contradictory signals these days – support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kosovo by supporting the decision on the process of forming the army, a strong message by Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan during a visit to Bosnia on their territorial integrity and against ethnoterritorial pretensions, such as the secession of Republika Srpska or the formation of a third entity,” he added.
Even if the intention of the letter is new pressure to an agreement based on the exchange of territory – judging by everything we know about the Trump administration, we can safely assess that neither Trump knew what he signed, nor does he even remember that he had signed that letter. The fate of the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement is decided in Europe, not in the United States – he said.
Weber pointed out that strong lobbying this fall for the idea of exchanging territories has nevertheless encountered resistance of most EU members and virtually all of Kosovo’s Albanian parliamentary parties. According to him, the letter of the US president will not bring any significant change.
Instead, a stalemate in next year’s talks should be used to seriously prepare the resetting of dialogue and then negotiate a final agreement – this expert emphasized.
„This means returning to the original framework and principles of political dialogue established in 2011-2013. It is a policy of reality, that Kosovo is independent, but taking into account that it is difficult for Belgrade to recognize this reality, and then focusing on ensuring the normal life of Kosovo Serbs and normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo,“ Bodo Weber explained what does dialogue restart mean. He added that the idea of a partition „serves the interests of Serbs from Kosovo the least“.
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