“Returning Kosovo and Metohija to the legal framework of Serbia is a phantasmagoria”: Could Vučić have negotiated better in Ohrid under the existing circumstances?

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, is satisfied with the Annex for the implementation of the Agreement on the Road to the Normalization of Relations between Kosovo and Serbia, which he negotiated in Ohrid with the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurtije, in the presence of representatives of the European Union.

However, he says that he will not implement the part of the Agreement that refers to the non-interference of Kosovo’s membership in international institutions, specifically the UN, and that he is satisfied that the JSO will be formed based on the agreements already reached. We asked our interlocutors whether Vučić could have negotiated better under the given circumstances and framework, and which part of the Annex they consider the most important.

Stefan Surlić, assistant professor of the Faculty of Political Sciences, tells Danas that these are documents whose content had already been prepared to a significant extent, and the parties in the dialogue were given the opportunity to deal with the details.

  • It was certainly to be expected that the European proposal would be integrated into the negotiation framework and chapter 35. The most significant point of the annex is the one that refers to Article 7 of the negotiated agreement, which does not explicitly mention the JSO but refers to a certain form of self-governance for the Serbian community. Pristina hereby undertakes that it will have to take into account previously reached agreements within the dialogue, with the indication “determined by the EU mediator” – he explains.

As he adds, if Pristina starts the dialogue process regarding the prospects of the future community, it is certain that international actors will insist on the return of Serbs to the institutions of Kosovo.

When asked about the fact that Vučić once again repeated the position that he will not implement the part of the agreement that refers to Kosovo’s membership in international organizations, i.e. the UN, he replied that he thinks that this issue will come up in a future appeal, but he assumes that the request for membership will Kosovo in international organizations should be considered from organization to organization and that this will leave room for additional political maneuvering.

  • However, it is certain that certain EU countries will insist until the end of the process on full international representation of Kosovo – Surlić points out.

Dimitrije Milić, program director of the New Third Way, tells Danas that there is not much room for maneuver when you do not have control on the ground in Kosovo, which has been the de facto situation since 1999.

  • With the gradual elimination of the recurrence of FRY institutions from then until today, control is even less. On the other hand, the block offered by the proposal is a block of countries with which you conduct over two-thirds of your economic exchange and through whose territory you conduct economic exchange with other countries as well. Without EU approval, Serbia cannot import Russian oil, Belarusian aircraft parts or export steel from the Chinese-owned Ironworks. It is also a bloc of countries whose troops guarantee the safety of Serbs in Kosovo. In the given circumstances, you can confront each other and immediately lose both economic and political interests, or you can participate in negotiations and improve economic interests and save some of the political ones – says Milić.

According to him, the most important item is certainly the issue of Serb self-government in Kosovo and the fact that the EU with the annex from Ohrid is more institutionally invested in the implementation of the mentioned issues.

  • The calculation is certainly very clear. Without participating in the negotiations, Serbia can only expect to be the European Venezuela and at the same time lose everything in Kosovo, and through the negotiations it can get something for the Serbs in Kosovo and economic advantages from the West – he says.

When asked if it was a good thing that Vučić insisted on the ZSO according to earlier agreements or if he could have negotiated something else regarding it, he says that referring to earlier agreements also sends a message to the EU that Pristina has not fulfilled the obligations assumed from them, and you are setting yourself up as constructive actor.

  • When you ask for a new framework, you are implicitly agreeing to not implement what has already been agreed and you are absolving the various governments of Kosovo for not implementing the JSO, even though they have committed to it – Milić is clear.

Nikola Lunić, executive director of the Council for Strategic Policies, points out for Danas that if we want to evaluate the text of the Implementation Annex to the agreement, we should first look at Belgrade’s negotiating position.

  • In unpredictable geopolitical circumstances, burdened by war and global exclusivity, Serbia has unfortunately not yet harmonized its policy with the EU, nor has it chosen commitment to the concept of collective security. Nevertheless, closer relations with the USA are observed, which have the potential of a non-reciprocal strategic alliance. In such circumstances, when all EU members support the process of normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, Serbia has definitely achieved the maximum in the negotiation process – Lunić believes.

As he adds, the utopian ideas of the opposition often rock us in the cradle of illusions and thus prevent us from facing reality, but the public should be aware of the consequences.

  • The return of Kosovo and Metohija to the state legal framework of Serbia is only a phantasmagoria that is impossible to achieve without a war, which we would lose without a doubt. The alternative to the normalization process is the project of a conquered territory where probably no one would even live, especially not those who wholeheartedly advocate it. Such a project is presented in the idea of ​​a frozen conflict, which is only the preparation of society for an inevitable war with a spiral of incidents and an arms race. That is why, at such historical crossroads, we must ask ourselves whether we are ready to sacrifice the future of children for the utopian ideas of ethical nihilists and lucrative avarice – he explains.

Our interlocutor hopes that the unscrupulousness of many pseudo-patriots and quasi-analysts who minimize the consequences of rejecting the Agreement on the path to normalization of relations will not lead to destabilization of the country and that they will not succeed in their intention to make up for their political deficit by bringing the SOC into the political arena.

  • Nevertheless, the potential halting of accession negotiations with the EU and the withdrawal of investments would have less consequences for Serbia than facing “other measures that would show that those who are not in agreement with the EU must go through”. Serbia is strategically dependent on its surroundings, and we don’t need the West’s patience games. Unfortunately, we have learned that once the airplanes from Aviano take off, it is too late to change the foreign policy – he states.

Valuably, without any doubt, the most important part of the Annex, according to his judgment, is the insistence on the prompt establishment of the ZSO, which should become an irreversible connection of Serbian-Albanian relations in the region.

  • If the Agreement succeeds in normalizing relations, improving the safety of everyone in Kosovo and Metohija and thereby providing a perspective for young people, then we have all won – concludes Lunić.

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