Sunday, October 21, 2012

Historic meeting between Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Serbia

Kosovo PM  Thaci (second from the left) and Serbian PM Dačić meeting with the EU Foreign Policy chief  Baroness Ashton. This is the first time a Serbian leader has meet with a Kosovo leader since Kosovo effectively separated from Serbia in June of  1999. 

This is a huge change in Serbia's relation with Kosovo. Finally Serbia has come to the conclusion that Kosovo is its neighbor and not its province. Serbian PM is now talking reconciliation and referring to Thaci as Kosovo PM (PM: It is time for historic agreement).  Thaci is talking "New Chapter" in relation to Serbia. What a change from a few years ago when Dačić was referring to Thaci in derogatory terms such  as the  "snake"etc. Don't want to be carried away with this, but this a major change in thinking in Serbia.

 It seems the new government has concluded that it needs to change course and leave the 'Kosovo je Srbija" nonsense to the dustbin of history. Other Serbian politician are also talking more reconciliation and less "Kosovo je Srbija". Vuk Drašković is talking Kosovo is Serbia’s special neighbor and a Serbian FM is visiting Albanian for the first time in a long time.

So, what gives? What is causing Serbia to change course all the sudden? It's hard to get into their thinking, but its been very apparent for the past 6 months that Serbia's relation with EU was negatively affected visa vie it's relation with Kosovo. EU politicians have been opining in weekly bases that Serbia needs to have good relation with Kosovo if it wants to join EU. In Serbia, this has been taken as a code word that Serbia needs to recognize Kosovo. The government  has been trying to ignore these pronouncement with various excuses, such as  this is not EU policy, it's his/her personal opinion and other such variations. However, in mid October EU produced a document that explicitly mentioned Kosovo's sovereignty in context of what Serbia had to do to get closer to EU. This came as shock to the Serbian government, and it seems to have been the straw to broke the camel's back. This seems to have brought  Serbia to its senses.

Hard to say where we go from here, but there is no doubt this is  a major change in Serbia's thinking visa vie Kosovo. It will be interesting to see how this change will manifest itself in practice. Will Serbia now gradually give up on Kosovo? Will they now disown the parallel structures on the North? What will they ask in return? Will the EU carrot suffice for this or will Dačić continue insisting on partition? Is Kosovo government willing to offer something new to the Serb community?  We will have to wait for these questions to be answered, but at this juncture it seems Serbia and Kosovo have both decided their relations with the EU are too important to be jeopardized. 

Ferik F.

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