The love triangle – Serbia, Kosovo and the EU

The next elections will determine whether Serbia chooses the ‘European perspective’ or the so-called ‘Kosovo path’; whether it will continue to uphold its territorial integrity or seek to amend its constitution in order to join the EU.

By Stefan Dragojević

The conflicts during the nineties in the Balkans demonstrated Europe’s lack of commitment towards Balkan disputes. The US intervention during the nineties, meanwhile, demonstrated to the world that Europe was not yet capable of resolving disputes in its own neighbourhood.

This situation slowly started to change after the 5th of October 2000 or – more literally – after the so-called ‘Bulldozer Revolution’. The EU was keen on having the role of supervisor in developing relations between the former Yugoslav Republics, especially on monitoring the evolution of the situation in Kosovo.

After the unilateral declaration of the independence of Kosovo, the EU was in a deadlock: technically, it could not institutionally recognize the independence of Kosovo, even if a majority of member states did. Furthermore, five member-states (Slovakia, Romania, Spain, Greece and Cyprus) have not recognized the secession, and that poses a barrier to the improvement of relations between Kosovo and the EU.

The next step towards more active European engagement in Kosovo was the deployment of the EULEX mission. Even though the mission initially supported the Ahtisaari plan and no resolution of the UN allowed another mission to be sent to Kosovo, an agreement was reached: EULEX was deployed under resolution 1244 of the Security Council, and it did not replace UNMIK.

The Serbian side initially opposed the mission but the current Serbian government, following elections, has posed no objections, as the main goal of Serbia is to join the EU.

But will Serbia recognize Kosovo on the demands of the EU? Will that be one of the conditions for the accession of Serbia into the Union? I will not quote the statements of some officials but instead the decision of prominent institutions within the EU. The European Parliament has played a major role in supporting an independent Kosovo: it adopted a resolution on the 5th February 2009 urging the recognition of an independent Kosovo. Meanwhile on the 8th July 2010, during a resolution on the ‘EU membership prospects of Albania and Kosovo’, the Parliament stated that the EU member should find a common approach towards Kosovo.

The Serbian withdraw of its own resolution in the UN in September 2010 showed to the international community how powerful is the EU’s influence over Serbia. The new resolution called for talks between Kosovo and Serbia and, as noted by a number of Serbian scholars, “that was a direct recognition of the independence of Kosovo”. Even though the Serbian foreign minister, Vuk Jeremic, still has a firm position towards Kosovo independence, his voice stands alone in the Serbian government and it certainly appears that Kosovo is not anymore one of the ‘urgent’ issues for Serbia.

It is widely speculated both in Serbia, and elsewhere in the world, that the EU will eventually demand the establishment of ‘friendly’ relations between Serbia and Kosovo – but this time as independent nation states. No more technical talks, but equal talks of two independent states.

Will Serbia choose the ‘European’ perspective or it will choose the so-called ‘Kosovo path’. Will Serbia continue the struggle to uphold and protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty as is prescribed by its constitution, or will Serbia seek to amend it in order to enter the EU? Let us wait until the next elections to see.

Stefan Dragojević was born in the United Kingdom and lived in Italy. Currently he is third-year-student at the Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade and has attended conferences and seminars regarding international and legal affairs. He’s active in the sphere of politics and student politics. Stefan is also a TransConflict Volunteer.

This article is published as part of TransConflict Serbia’s initiative, ‘Serbia’s Future on the Future of Serbia’.

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