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Aleksandar Popov, Director of the Centre for Regionalism

The Synchronisation Of America And EU Key To Direction And Final Result

If there is no synchronisation between Europe and America, as the two key external factors, the direction of negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, and the dialogue’s ultimate desirable outcome, may be completely inconsistent. That would also jeopardise the actual negotiation process, as well as its successful conclusion

America or Europe. Or both America and Europe. These are key questions when it comes to the direction in which the announced talks between Belgrade and Pristina will unfold. Specifically, after the apparent failure to date of the EU in leading this process, a new player has emerged on the scene in the form of America. Now, with the resumption of negotiations announced, no one has given a coherent answer to the question of how synchronisation between these two key international factors will unfold or whether it will even exist. Here at the very start, we have double asynchronicity. When it comes to America, we have two official negotiating delegates – Matthew Palmer and Richard Grenell. When it comes to the European Union, things are even more complicated. Officially, negotiations will be led on behalf of the European Union by Josep Borell, or his special envoy. But one of the key members of the European Union, namely Germany, has so far been behind the official representative of the EU, and now that Angela Merkel is leaving it is France, or Emmanuel Macron, who wants to take over this role directly. And finally, there is the possibility of asynchronous action by the EU and America.

On the occasion of his recent visit to Belgrade and Pristina, Borell stated that he is not vying with the Americans and that they would work together, but he didn’t explain how. This is all the more questionable if we consider since that America has seen the EU as a competitive power since the start of Trump’s term.

If the demarcation option has definitely collapsed (which would be good news), negotiations should head in the other direction, with the lowest common denominator for both parties

If the demarcation option has definitely collapsed (which would be good news), negotiations should head in the other direction, with the lowest common denominator for both parties. This would be the Brussels Agreement that has already envisaged the Community of Serbian Municipalities, but not as a non-governmental organisation, rather as a functional body with executive powers, which would have relations with both Pristina and Belgrade, and ensure the extraterritoriality of Serbian religious sites in Kosovo.

With pressure applied from the outside, this could end up being the least painful solution for Pristina, while for Belgrade it would provide an alibi by having secured some kind of autonomy for northern Kosovo while simultaneously preserving Serbian holy sites. With more pressure applied by America, which has a decisive impact on Pristina, but also on Belgrade, and with the EU having conditioned Serbia’s path to EU membership with the solving of Kosovo’s problems, this solution could mark the end of a long negotiation path. But a key question remains from the beginning of the text: namely, if there is no synchronisation among the two key external factors noted, the direction of negotiations and their final desirable outcome could be completely inconsistent, which would jeopardise the negotiation process itself and its successful conclusion.

Comment

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