The Significance of the Belgrade-Prishtina Agreement

As most compromises, the agreement between Serbia and Kosovo concluded a few days ago contains its share of absurdity. Kosovo can now participate in regional meetings with a footnote referring to the UN SC resolution 1244 and the ICJ opinion the declaration of independence, but these two references are meaningless. 1244 refers to the interim status of Kosovo that has clearly passed, even within a new UN SC resolution and the ICJ opinion is clear on the declaration of independence, but does not tackle the independence of Kosovo itself. It is similar to attaching a footnote to an apple pie saying that apples can be prepared in many different ways and a second note that an apple pie can call itself what ever it wants.

However, the meaninglessness of these disclaimers aside, the agreement has greater significance: It is the first time that Serbia has accepted the Kosovo government to represent Kosovo at the international level directly, rather than being formally represented by the UN mission or being able to participate, but without a mandate. As a result, this solution could be path-breaking for Kosovo in the future. The solution could outline the direction in which Kosovo could eventually co-exist with Serbia in the international arena. Since the declaration of independence in 2008, the challenge has been to find a way in which Serbia can live with Kosovo without extending full recognition and this agreement outlines the mode through which this could be achieved. Serbia recognizes Kosovo as a separate entity with a government, while stopping short of international recognition. Such a solution could open the door for membership in other international organizations and also eventual EU membership. The step from extending this solution from regional meetings to international organizations is small and has now become conceivable. If the agreement holds and proves to be a acceptable solution for both Kosovo and Serbia, the ball is in the court of the EU to outline a credible EU integration perspective for Kosovo and for the five EU member that have not recognized Kosovo to reconsider their stance. Of course, relations between Serbia and Kosovo will remain on the agenda and the agreement does not resolve the many remaining questions, but it might turn out to be a bigger step than the mediators and the parties have anticipated.

One Response to The Significance of the Belgrade-Prishtina Agreement

  1. inavukic says:

    I would say that the UN has become a master chef of sorts in concocting mish-mash pies (since pies are part of agenda) but these have always included a biased balance of ingredients. Nothing new there. It’s a bright as sunny day: this is a “clever” way to ease Serbia’s path into becoming a candidate state for EU accession. Amazing how anything goes, depending on who says it. Let’s hope that Kosovo will benefit too.

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