Our final topic, picked by you, dear listeners, earlier in a poll on our Facebook page, is “Serbia & Kosovo: Can Brussels Broker a Rapprochement?” focusing on the EU’s efforts to compel Belgrade to recognize its southern province as an “independent country”.
The EU just announced that the leaders of Serbia and its self-proclaimed “independent” province of Kosovo have agreed to a new round of dialogue aimed at “normalizing” their relations and beginning the process of “reconciliation”, though domestic factors in each polity could make that very difficult. The use of the words “normalize” and “reconciliation” in EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s statement following the Brussels-brokered talks earlier this week were interpreted by some as a carefully crafted euphemism implying that Belgrade should “recognize” Kosovo as an “independent state”, a move which has long been demanded of Serbia in order to join the EU.
President Aleksandar Vucic is a stalwart Europhile who has promised his people that they will join the bloc sooner than later, though he hasn’t yet explained how this will happen without amending the Serbian Constitution to remove the stipulation that Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia. His recent appointment of Ana Brnabic, a former USAID employee and well-known pro-Western figure, as Prime Minister suggested to some that it’s only a matter of time before this fateful step is taken, no matter how much domestic uproar it would provoke given Kosovo’s inseparable relationship to Serbia’s national identity as the cradle of its civilization.
There’s also the fact of the matter that the coalition led by former leader of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” Ramush Haradinaj won the latest “elections” in Serbia’s southern province, meaning that a hardline Serbophobe accused by Belgrade of war crimes is the kingmaker behind Kosovo’s so-called “government”. The territory’s self-proclaimed “President” Hashim Thaci isn’t much better, and both men are viewed by many Serbs as terrorists on par with Daesh. There’s little hope, then, that either of them will agree to a “normalization” or “reconciliation” which doesn’t include Serbia eventually “recognizing” Kosovo as an “independent state”, something which would be a political firestorm for the Vucic-Brnabic government.
In spite of all that, Belgrade’s leaders have indeed proven themselves to be loyal followers of Brussels over the years, so there’s a distinct possibility that they wouldn’t mind putting their political necks on the line in order to please their partner and make historic progress in formalizing Kosovo’s NATO-backed militant separation from Serbia.
Stevan Gajic, PhD in political science who works at the Institute of European Studies in Belgrade, and Danijela Dorado Radojicic, Serbian political observer from Belgrade, joined us to discuss the issue.
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