This week on War & Peace, Crisis Group’s Balkan expert Marko Prelec joins Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope to discuss why the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has stalled, why the status quo is untenable and how to change it.
Tensions persisted between Kosovo and Serbia at regional summit while Pristina announced intention to file genocide lawsuit against Belgrade. During summit of Western Balkan nations in Slovenia, dispute between Serbian President Vučić and Kosovo President Osmani 16 May surfaced over wording of resolution on sanctity of state borders; Vučić reportedly opposed resolution as it would indirectly recognise borders of former breakaway province of Kosovo. At summit, Osmani declared that “Republic of Kosovo as a sovereign and independent country is a permanent project” while Vučić commented that Kosovo “would like to interpret the borders as it wishes”. Kosovo PM Albin Kurti 7 May confirmed that Kosovo intends to file genocide lawsuit against Serbia in International Court of Justice. Osmani 19 May dismissed 12 of country’s ambassadors following foreign ministry proposal to recall those who were political appointees of former govt. EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Representative for Western Balkans Matthew Palmer 31 May began visits to Kosovo; talks with PM Kurti, Osmani and other leaders aimed at preparing for dialogue with Serbia in June.
Thirteen years after Kosovo broke away from Serbia, the two countries remain mired in mutual non-recognition, with deleterious effects on both. The parties need to move past technicalities to tackle the main issues at stake: Pristina’s independence and Belgrade’s influence over Kosovo’s Serbian minority.
Serbia and Kosovo must build on a recent breakthrough in negotiations and extend dialogue to sensitive issues, especially northern Kosovo’s institutions, in order to keep their fragile relationship moving forward.
Kosovo deserves to celebrate today as the international community converts the “supervised independence” it achieved four years ago to full independence, but it must also do more to guarantee full protection of minority rights, especially those of the country’s Serb population.
The dispute about Kosovo’s sovereignty continues to fuel tensions and violent clashes in northern Kosovo, halting Kosovo’s and Serbia’s fragile dialogue and putting at risk Serbia’s EU candidacy.
The dispute between Kosovo and Serbia, which keeps the Western Balkans divided and insecure, is most acute in Kosovo’s northern municipalities.
The development of more realistic, if not yet fully public, attitudes in Kosovo and Serbia suggest a win-win resolution of their dispute is feasible if both sides promptly open talks with the aim of reaching a comprehensive compromise.
Online Event to discuss Crisis Group's report "Relaunching the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue", in which we discussed what currently stands in the way of a new status quo and what it will take to relaunch the process with the Pristina elections in view.
Political instability keeps growing in the Western Balkans amid geopolitical contests and increased tensions with Russia. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to engage intensively to ensure the political space for avoiding more serious crisis does nto entirely vanish in the Western Balkans.
Originally published in Today's Zaman