GLPS held a Roundtable Discussion on the Future of the Dialogue with Serbia and Possibilities for New Dynamics

June 26, 2024

26 June 2024, Prishtina – Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) organized today a Roundtable Discussion on the topic: “The Future of the Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia: The possibilities for new dynamics in the process and the impact of new US and EU elections”. Back in March 2023, Kurti government accepted the Ohrid Agreement which is inclusive of the establishment of the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities (ASM), standing ready to seal it. However, President Vucic remained strongly opposed to this agreement. Given the Ohrid Agreement is not inked by either PM Kurti or President Vucic, its legality has been called into question, prompting requests for clarity from the EU.  On the contrary, President Vucic has declared that he has not accepted the agreement in its spirit, but only the articles and provisions that benefit his country. More than a year from its ‘acceptance’, the agreement has been more violated than respected, Banjska attack being the most blatant violation. Given the uncertainty surrounding the legality of the Ohrid Agreement for a long period on one hand, and Serbia’s opposing approach towards the agreement on the other, the EU proceeded to incorporate the obligations outlined in the 2023 Brussels Agreement and its annex as part of Serbia’s Chapter 35, voted unanimously by the Committee of the Permanent Representatives (COREPER) on April 15, 2024. Since March 2023, and particularly following the Banjska attack in September, the dialogue with Serbia has absorbed the majority of PM Kurti’s foreign policy endeavors during its third year in tenure, resulting in measures imposed against Kosovo. The Banjska attack fundamentally shifted the attention of Kosovo’s state institutions from EU-related reforms to the management of security-related concerns. Therefore, considering all the above developments and the current deadlock in the dialogue, this discussion aimed to shed light on the future of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, in particular to deconstruct the possibilities for new dynamics in the process, the likelihood of a final agreement, the new EU Special Representative, the impact of the EU and USA elections, among others.

PANELISTS:

Ms. Doarsa KICA XHELILI – Member of Parliament at Parliament of the Republic of Kosova and Vice President of LDK for foreign relations;

Mr. Daniel SERWER – Professor, Director of Conflict Management Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies;

Mr. Ditmir BUSHATI – Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania;

Mr. Sonja BISERKO – Serbian campaigner for human rights, Founder and President of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia.

The discussion was moderated by Dr. Arbëresha LOXHA STUBLLA, Executive Director at GLPS.

The first panelist to speak was Mr. Serwer. He noted that it is very difficult to speak regarding the dialogue in front of many people that follow the dialogue in a daily basis. Mr. Serwer stated that he will be speaking from a professors stand-point that there is no better alternative than constructive dialogue. Mr. Serwer stated that ‘Neighbors have it impossible to ignore their neighbors if they want development and prosperity’. “Normalization will not happen under normal pollical conditions. EU and US should focus more on practical issues such as the currencies which impact the daily lives of citizens involved. Both countries would be interested in a serious commitment to combat organized crime.”, he concluded.

The second panelist was Ms. Kica Xhelili that started with the question “where is the dialogue going to leave us with… what is in it for us?”. Ms. Kica Xhelili stated that the feelings of having been right in the claim to independence were not enough for our freedom which is why the political minds of the 90s started created ‘allies.

The third panelist was Mr. Bushati. He started the discussion by saying how different would this today discussion be, one day after Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine. There are three or four main actors in the process of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. Initially the aim of the dialogue is to consolidate the statehood process of Kosovo and the secondly to Europeanize and democratize Serbia. Mr. Bushati analyzed the role of the actors in the process of the dialogue. US has a very important role and that is eminent but we can share some concern on what is going on. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Albania Bushati disagreed with Mr. Serwer that there are some leaders that are betting that Trump should win and that does not necessarily relate with the statehood issues. “We can’t forget that even regarding the statehood issues, the recognition of Israel for Kosovo came during Trumps administration”, he added.

The last panelist to speak was Ms. Biserko. She stated that without resolving Serbia’s national question, there will always be instability in the region, not just in Kosovo. As long as Serbia continues to raise territorial issues, it also affects the EU, as this is not solely Serbia’s problem but a concern for the entire EU, she added. Russia’s infiltration, not only with the recent invasion of Ukraine but also earlier with Crimea, has consistently influenced Serbia’s behavior. For Serbia, Russia applied the same logic and arguments as in the case of Kosovo. The partition talks started during Mogherini’s period and were only halted by Angela Merkel in 2018. This partition plan was somewhat supported by the Trump administration, although details were sparse, said Ms. Biserko during her speech.

This event was supported by the SMART BALKANS.

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