ЕU supports the continuation of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. Brussels also supports the initiative that the Kosmet issue should be discussed at a higher level. There have been no secret agreements in Brussels, but the issue of different interpretation of the implementation of the reached agreements exist. Pristina is conditioning the continuation of dialogue. This would be the resume of EU mediator in the dialogue Robert Cooper’s visit to Belgrade and Pristina respectively. More from Ivana Subašić.
Cooper’s visit has suggested the method and dynamics of dialogue on Kosmet. It, however, did not eliminate the dilemma present in the Belgrade public in the past days, which refers to the alleged existence of some new conditions for Serbia’s EU integration. Instead, there was a brief announcement that the issue of Pristina’s opening a representative office in Belgrade and vice-versa, cancellation of local Serb institutions in northern Kosmet or a possible summit, were not discussed this time.
The German and French ambassadors in Belgrade, Wolfram Maas and Francois Xavier Deniau respectively, were equally vague on the topic. In their respective statements to Serbian media, they emphasizing that no one was asking of Serbia to recognize Kosovo, but reiterated that all the conditions for the setting of a date for the commencement of Serbia’s talks with the EU were well-known and clear and that the Kosovo issue was an important part of them. The ambassadors also pointed to the conclusions of the EU Council, on the basis of which, as they said, Belgrade is expected to continue with the reform process and regional cooperation and also to normalize relations with Pristina.
Belgrade and Priština, however, still have quite opposite stands on the dialogue, i.e. the implementation of reached agreements. The attempts of Kosovo authorities to block further talks and use the vacuum to their own advantate are detrimental to regional stability. In that context, the message that EU officials greet Serbia readiness to have key problems related to Kosmet resolved at a higher level, which was conveyed to Serbian officials by Robert Cooper, can be regarded as an additional encouragement. However, part of the Pristina opposition thinks differently. Supporters of a Kosovo Albanian extremist movement, Self-Determination, threw tomatoes at Cooper in Pristina. However, those who know the situation in the region claim that the incident was more a message to Kosovo PM Hashim Tachi, who has been accused for a long time by his opponents of agreeing to a special status for northern Kosmet. No wonder that, after talks with Cooper, Tachi laid the blame on Belgrade again, demanding that Serbia should implement all the agreements, regardless of the fact that, in the talks, Cooper insisted that Pristina should implement the reached agreements faster.
Although we can discuss the definition of dialogue in a new form, or at a higher level, at this moment the fact that the EU supports continuation of the talks is important for Serbia. That points to a conclusion that the EU, still affected by the euro zone crisis, is rushing to resolve the Kosmet issue, but this issue ought to be tackled in a different manner. It is clear that it cannot be resolved by merely recognizing the unilateral independence of Kosovo. It is also clear now that many open-ended issues, which were subject to technical dialogue, are not technical only, but deeply relate to the status as well. The so-called Brussels agreement are based on the minimal agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. This has given room for various interpretations of the agreements, which had led to many incidents. It has become clear, thus, that dialogue will not be possible in the same form. And as not only delicate property issues, such as those of energy and telecommunications, and the purely political ones, such as the northern Kosmet issue, the position of the Serbs south of the Ibar and also the status of Serbian churches and monasteries are to ensue in the dialogue, the fact that the EU has supported Belgrade’s initiative for raising the talks to a higher level is important. However, problems may occur if the dialogue in a new form formulation entails only a transition from technical to political talks, without a wider international framework within which the Kosmet issue would be dealt with.