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How Does “Strategic Patience” Strike You?

Following the Banjska attack and the meeting of the UN Security Council dedicated to Kosovo, the issue of Vucic’s wiggle room has become urgent, while it is becoming increasingly difiicult to be able to talk about “strategic patience”

Serbia is indeed a country of paradoxes. And President Vučić governs thanks to the technology of mutually functional paradoxes: one of the main ones being that Vučić presides over a country that aspires to full EU membership while at the same time hoping that today’s Serbian children will tomorrow live in a world shaped by BRICS. And there are acutely more serious paradoxes than this futurism: the country representing Serbia’s top trading partner – Germany – isn’t simultaneously a political ally of Serbia (due to both Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina), at least as far as the Serbian public understands the notion of alliance. It is also paradoxical that the U.S. – as the country with which Serbia exchanges the most services – isn’t among Serbia’s political patrons (at least not to the extent that of some other players on the territory of the former Yugoslavia). Following the Banjska attack and the meeting of the UN Security Council dedicated to Kosovo, the issue of Vučić’s wiggle room has become urgent, while it is becoming increasingly dificult to be able to talk about “strategic patience”, which we’ve heard in informed diplomatic circles since the time that Christopher Hill was U.S. ambassador in Belgrade.

The West’s obsession with Kosovo continues, as confirmed by the arrival in Pristina and Belgrade of the “big five” Western mediators for Kosovo. They are seeking that both Vučić and Kurti show full respect to the Ohrid Agreement. Two things are at least certain for now: it is tough to imagine Kosovo again being under the full sovereignty of Serbia, just as it is difcult to imagine Kosovo as the kind of civil state that is disingenuously discussed by Kosovo President Osmani, whose ethno-nationalism (albeit in the shadow of Kurti’s) can hardly mask democratic platitudes and fantastical comparisons between Vučić’s policies and those of Milošević and Putin.

Speaking at the meeting of the UN Security Council dedicated to Kosovo, Serbian PM Brnabić demonstrated her pedantic meticulousness in noting the pressures under which the Serbian community in Kosovo lives, while denouncing violence and advocating dialogue. There was no expressing of hope for a better and fairer globalised world that has yet to come, which is precisely what was expressed by President Vučić in his address to the UN General Assembly just a few days before the Banjska violence. This time around, Brnabić expressed hope that a sustainable solution for the Serbs would be found in this unjust world, where it seems that Serbia is indeed a country of paradoxes. And President Vučić governs thanks to the technology of mutually functional paradoxes: one of the main ones being that Vučić presides over a country that aspires to full EU membership while at the same time hoping that today’s Serbian children will tomorrow live in a world shaped by BRICS.

It is tough to imagine Kosovo again being under the full sovereignty of Serbia, just as it is difcult to imagine Kosovo as the kind of civil state that is disingenuously discussed by Kosovo President Osmani, whose ethno-nationalism (albeit in the shadow of Kurti’s) can hardly mask democratic platitudes and fantastical comparisons between Vučić’s policies and those of Milošević and Putin

And there are acutely more serious paradoxes than this futurism: the country representing Serbia’s top trading partner – Germany – isn’t simultaneously a political ally of Serbia (due to both Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina), at least as far as the Serbian public understands the notion of alliance. It is also paradoxical that the U.S. – as the country with which Serbia exchanges the most services – isn’t among Serbia’s political patrons (at least not to the extent that of some other players on the territory of the former Yugoslavia).

Following the Banjska attack and the meeting of the UN Security Council dedicated to Kosovo, the issue of Vučić’s wiggle room has become urgent, while it is the countries of the Xuint can still help the Kosovo Serbs – in forcing the forming of the famous Community of Serb municipalities (agreed under the Brussels Agreement) – more than they can be helped by “the majority of humanity that doesn’t recognise Kosovo independence”, as the Serbian government likes to stress.

Vučić felt the “scent of freedom” at the UN General Assembly. That is the spirit of libertarian of the countries that no longer want to bow to the dictates of the “Collective West”. At the promotion of the “Pupin Initiative” (named after famous American- Serbian scientist Mihajlo Pupin), in front of ambassador Hill, and after the incident in Banjska, PM Brnabić utilised a similar metaphor, albeit in a different context, saying that she “feels a breath of fresh air”, which is nonetheless not quite as pretentious as Vučić’s “scent of freedom” that he inhaled in New York. Perhaps that’s also because the same gathering saw ambassador Hill speak about relations between Serbia and the U.S. in categories of alliance. Vučić probably even travelled to China to meet with “brother Xi” feeling more serene after Hill clarified that alliance with the U.S. “doesn’t mean you can’t have friends on the other side of the world.” Perhaps Trump’s America or Biden’s current America wouldn’t even acknowledge the validity of a creation like Kurti’s Kosovo, but as William Montgomery, former U.S. ambassador in Belgrade, says: “there’s no going back”. And that’s something Vučić knows

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