Kosovo – Serbia, the EU and Germany

Europe seems to be allowing Germany to lead it into a historic blunder by freezing Serbia out rather than bringing it in.

By Gerard M. Gallucci

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, visited Kosovo on December 19th and encouraged the Kosovo Albanians to fight corruption, “behave responsibly” and not “stir up tensions.”  Her main message, however, seemed more focused on Serbia.  She made clear that for Germany, there is no way for Serbia to enter the EU unless it surrenders Kosovo.

Merkel did not say that Serbia must recognize Kosovo.  Indeed, it seems that the EU is anxious to make clear that formal recognition is not required.  (Five EU states themselves don’t recognize Kosovo.)  The conditions Merkel did lay down, however, would amount to a complete Serbian withdrawal from Kosovo.  Germany requires that all barricades be taken down, ways found to regularize trade, joint “border” control and the abolition of all Serb “parallel” local institutions in the north – including municipalities, courts and schools.

Merkel also visited German NATO troops and told them that “our security and our peace back home are down to troops serving their country here.”  (German security depends on subduing the Serbs in northern Kosovo? Why would that be?)

In sum, Merkel’s message was for the Kosovo Albanians to behave and while German political and military pressure on Belgrade takes care of the north.

It seems clear that while some in the EU may be uncomfortable with putting Serbia into a corner – surrender Kosovo or lose the EU – Germany is not.  And Germany commands the EU at this historic juncture because it seems only Germany can bail out the Euro.

It also seems clear that Serbia cannot meet Merkel’s conditions.  On the issue of so-called “parallel” institutions, Belgrade has responded that perhaps it would be better if the internationals accepted them as it is impractical to imagine them disappearing.  Many in Serbia are talking as if they believe EU candidacy is now unlikely and not the end of the world.  Serbia’s President, Boris Tadic – still clinging to his mantra of both Kosovo and the EU – is stretching his rhetoric as far as he can since he too understands he cannot meet Merkel’s conditions.

During a visit to Macedonia, he told the press that there is no way that Serbia can bring Kosovo back into its “state system” as it was before and there is no support for partition.  He suggested perhaps some dual sovereignty approach might work.

The continued German effort to “bludgeon” Serbia and the northern Serbs into surrender is either based on a stubborn belief that force can work or is a cynical way of keeping Serbia outside.  In the coming weeks and months – as it becomes clear that the barricades won’t come down without agreement on KFOR/EULEX status neutrality and Serbian local institutions in the north won’t be abolished in any case – how with the Quint react?

Will the US and Germany, for whatever reasons, up the military pressure and perhaps seek a solution through use of force?  Or will Serbia (and Tadic) be left to simply wither on the EU vine?  Either way, Europe seems to be allowing Germany to lead it into a historic blunder by freezing Serbia out rather than bringing it in.  Is progress on corruption, migration and ethnic conflict, etc. more likely that way?

Gerard M. Gallucci is a retired US diplomat and UN peacekeeper. He worked as part of US efforts to resolve the conflicts in Angola, South Africa and Sudan and as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. He served as UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo from July 2005 until October 2008 and as Chief of Staff for the UN mission in East Timor from November 2008 until June 2010. Gerard is also a member of TransConflict’s Advisory Board.

To read TransConflict’s recently-released policy paper, entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo’, please click here.

To read other articles by Gerard for TransConflict, please click here.

To learn more about both Serbia and Kosovo, please check out TransConflict’s new reading lists series by clicking here.

To keep up-to-date with the work of TransConflict, please click here. If you are interested in supporting TransConflict, please click here.

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13 Responses

  1. Pingback : Kosovo – Serbia, the EU and Germany – TransConflict | Angola news

  2. Carlo Abrucci

    Why is Mr. Gallucci not US Ambassador to Serbia? He seems to understand the situation when most American politicians have no clue on Kosovo’s history or patrimony.

  3. Ivan

    As the majority of Serbs do not wish to join this union I am happy to see the historically anti-Serb German government make it impossible for the western purchased government any chance of joining the EU. No Serb politition can ever accept Kosovo is not Serbian. Very smart & thank you for an easy out. Keep Serbia independent, allow business relations with all regardless of their bias, Never ever ever be ruled by Islamists, do not act out of hate but do not ever believe those who do not like us will ever change their views. Protect and support all Serbs in Bosnia and Kosovo the west still wants to weaken us , attempting to turn us into things that do not exist; Kosovars & Bosniacs. Do not try to make a greater Serbia, but do ingrain economic and political institutions that favor and protect Serbs and our friends. It is very difficult to stand against the money and power of those who do not really wish us well. Please fight the good fight, never surrender, do not provoke violence but prepare as they definitely will attempt all different forms of pressure including violence and lies.

  4. Ivan

    Mr. Gallucci’s piece is a great summary of the current situation. The only problem is that each former diplomat who served in the Former Yugoslavia region, including Mr. Gallucci, provides very realistic analysis only after he or she stepped down.

    Back to the topic, it’s very obvious that only military power and muscle matter in today’s world. The reality, rule of law, common sense, and truth do not. Consequantly, this civilization is flying itself to the ground fast. Good luck to all of us.

  5. Diza Kosovar

    Serbia doesn’t need to surrender Kosova. After 12 and half years of withdrawal of Serbian forces it is more than clear that there is no return of Serbia in Kosovo, in any part of it. There are no “parallel” institutions in Northern Kosovo but illegal structures either by Kosovo Constitution or Resolution 1244 of UNSC. Resolution 1244 doesn’t foresee any Serbian elections nor “institutions” in Kosovo. Serbs in Northern Kosovo have a choice either to accept Ahtisaari plan as it is or will be exhausted and probably leave Kosovo one day. This is not injustice. Look at Albanians in Presevo, Bujanovac Medvedja. Why they don’t have right to join Kosovo? In Montenegro 45% of poulation (majority Serbs) were against independence. Look at Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Croats in the same country. Why the same right as Serbs in Northern Kosovo should not have Bosniacs in Sandjak (Serbia) or Hungarians in northern Serbia? Why Albaninas in western Macedonia should not have their own “institutions”?

    It is a fact that accepting wishes of Serbs in northern Kosovo would create a mess not only in our region.

  6. Bojan

    The ethnic groups’ development in the history was influenced by the foreign rule throughout the centuries. Some of the ethnic groups have accepted imperialistic power standards (European Union today) and became part of it, with the opportunity for formation of ethnic dominance at particular area in Balkan Peninsula. On the other side, the ethnic groups reluctant to accept foreign norms remained as a potential threat and had been recognised as ‘attachment’, which is not acceptable solution in the eyes of the dominant ones and don’t serve the interest of the Empire (EU today). Serbs are definitely the attachment with unfavourable role in today’s modern European structure, the same as they were in the past.

    In this case the German Chancellor gives the pedagogical lessons to the European colleagues about the role of German knowledge and how to treat the unfavourable ones, based on coercive strategies developed in the past (two World Wars). However; the German dominance within European structure today is very much the same as it was in the past. The instruction given to the Kosovo Albanians about what they should and shouldn’t do is another lesson with a negative connotations, the same applies to the Serbian Government. Those pedagogical lessons are another form of ultimatum(s) given not only to the small nations but to the all Europeans since they have chosen Germany to have a leading role again.

    German interests are pretty clear, based on its role in the past at the territory of the Balkan Peninsula, they want to dominate the ethnic groups, regardless of who they are, Serbs or Kosovo Albanians or anybody else. Germans have a plan to be present, to craft and to observe ethnic groups’ behaviour by keeping them unable to have their voice heard in European modernity. Is the change possible in the future? Very hard to say since Europeans, especially Germans had enough time to analyse the historical-sociological accounts of ethnic groups and at the same time to ignore those perspectives completely in order to encourage ethnic-nationalism to persist or to develop itself further if of ‘modern imperialistic’ interests.

    I wonder how is possible that Germans atrocities have been forgotten by all modern Europeans today, and at the same time the conflict between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians is still kept alive, encouraged by the same Europeans, quasi modern ones. What is the modernity here? Is that a better life for the ethnic groups or the new way how to exterminate as many as possible, trapped in the ethnic-nationalism introduced by modernity. The better life is certainly a utopian expectation.

    The only issue here is the Europeans invalid understanding of the ‘attachments’ in the forms of small nations. The ethnic groups which are unable to establish any effective position within the boundaries of ‘the dominant rule’, had been prone for ‘interest’ manipulation by the European nations and hence serve as a tool for modern interests and gains only. An invalid understanding or purposely imposed modern norms which serve only the dominant ones is something that the people trapped in this chaos should start ignoring.

  7. PEN

    @ Diza Kosovar;
    The only mess that was created in the region was the unilateral declaration of independence by the Albanian regime in Pristina. Your so-called state has none of the attributes of a functioning country. Your borders are disputed, in fact your entire entity is unrecognised by more than half the world’s nations and the UN. Your political system is corrupt. Recent elections were a fraud. The police force is little more than uniformed thugs. There is no army in the recognised sense of the word. Your fiscal policy is non existant. Unemployment is astronomical. There is no probity in public life. Politicians are not accountable to anybody. The ombudsman is ignored. Construction deals are utterly corrupt. And, most telling of all, if the your Western sponsors ie. the US, Germany, and Britain pulled out and left you to your own devices, you would collapse within a month.
    Instead of coming to an agreement with Serbia that would solve real problems, you antagonise and threaten violence if you don’t have your way. Primitive.

  8. Diza Kosovar

    @PEN
    Kosovo declared independence unilaterally because there was no choice. USA did the same for instance and many other states. You are forgetting that Serbia is the state accused to have been committed terrible crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and lastly in Kosovo. About corruption and other things look at your yard before looking to the others. Serbia is the most criminalized state with thousands of criminals who committed crimes and genocide and are free people. Serbian economy is in the level of year 1970 and is expected to collapse soon because of very high debt of 15 billion euros. Look at documentary from B92 “insajder” and you see the level of corruption, organized crime in Serbia. And these things are proven not propaganda as you do here. Serbia killed more than 10000 civilians from Kosovo, raped Kosovo women, burned and destroyed more than 200K houses, expelled more than 800K Albanians from their homes and confiscated personal documents and in fact Serbia did commit genocide in Kosovo and this is the reason why Serbia was bombed from NATO. And who is threatening for violence? Look at the news and see how criminals in the north or so called “movement 1389” threaten using “every means” and violence in coordination with “mayors”, which is an excellent evidence that “mayors” in the north are in fact criminals since collaborate with criminals.

  9. Amir

    “Europe seems to be allowing Germany to lead it into a historic blunder by freezing Serbia out rather than bringing it in”

    The same can be put in some rather different terms:

    “Europe seems to be allowing 5 members states not recognizing Kosova to lead it into a historic blunder by freezing Kosova out rather than bringing it in”

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