Can Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Be Saved?


By Muhamet Brajshori and Linda Karadaku

Given the most recent clashes at the northern border crossings in Kosovo, the ongoing dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade is in jeopardy. The talks — which were scheduled to continue on September 28th — came to a screeching halt after Serbian representatives said they were no longer willing to participate unless the topic of the crossings in Kosovo’s north were revisited.

Security Studies Professor Avdullah Hasani tells SETimes that the current situation is unstable and benefits no one. “Innovative models of how the North can be governed must be found. The possibility of an EU interim administration might be a good solution, which would last until Kosovo and Serbia join the Union,” he says.

Arber Gashi, an EU policy researcher at the Kosovo Institute for Public Policy and Good Governance, says that the dialogue began wrong and ended wrong.

“When the dialogue began, all warned that it would fail because it was without a clear objective and framework,” Gashi tells SETimes.

The level of implementation of the first agreements is not satisfactory, he adds.

“It is clear that both sides do not have a serious will to implement the agreement because of upcoming elections and the rhetoric the nationalistic blocs might use,” says Gashi.

Dragan Popovic, director of the Policy Centre of Belgrade, agrees that the April vote is impacting the process. “I am convinced that there is no possibility for serious political talks before Serbian elections. After that, we should expect that Belgrade and Pristina will start substantial negotiations about north Kosovo first, but also about possible solutions for Belgrade to recognise an independent Kosovo without formal recognition,” Popovic told SETimes.

Kosovo analyst Belul Beqaj expects “the most difficult and sensitive phase” will come after the April elections, adding that it will be important for Serbia to continue dialogue and present itself to the world as a supporter of peaceful means, “which would make it possible for it to get the EU candidacy”.

Hasani says that innovative models must be found for the north, including an international administration.

However, he doubts that Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and Serbian President Boris Tadic will meet to hash out the issues.

“Such a meeting might advance the efforts for a solution in the North, but I am not sure if Tadic would be ready to meet Thaci, keeping in mind next year he has elections and the opposition would use that against him and his party,” Hasani says.

Fatlum Sadiku, a political commentator in Pristina, told SETimes that even if Pristina and Belgrade show a readiness to move on the north, the EU has no unity on the issue and this would harm the process.

“The EU has no idea how to use the stick and carrot in Kosovo and Serbia, so it needs to adopt a concrete policy without which Pristina and Belgrade have difficulties moving forward.”

Sadiku says that except for a “handshake meeting” in a third country, nothing should be expected to be solved if Thaci and Tadic do meet.

“Dialogue on technical issues must be continued.says Sadiku”


The Southeast European Times Web site is a central source of news and information about Southeastern Europe in ten languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, English, Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, Serbian and Turkish. The Southeast European Times is sponsored by the US European Command, the joint military command responsible for US operations in 52 countries. EUCOM is committed to promoting stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

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