Potential For Solutions: Kosovo And Serbia Agree “In Principle”

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti met to discuss proposals on improving relations and ending the ongoing political crises between the two countries. More specifically, the talks focused on how to implement an EU-endorsed plan to bring peace to the region. The proposals have been backed by both Vucic and Kurti, at least in principle, although full details of the plan have not been made public. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that part of the plan included recognition of passports, ID’s and license plates on both sides, which would allow citizens to pass freely between the two countries. Borrell indicated that the talks went well, better than previous talks. Vucic said he is “ready to work on the concept and implementation of the proposed plan with clearly defined limitations,” reports The Hill.  Serbia historically vowed to never agree to the succession of Kosovo, a statement that was backed by Russia, China, and some EU members.

Current conflicts stem from Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia has not let go of Kosovo, refusing to recognize the area as another country. Kosovo does not want to give their Serbian population autonomy and wants full recognition from Serbia. Tensions between the Serbians that still live in Kosovo and Kosovo authorities rose over small interactions, such as vehicle license plate formats, and the arrest of a Serb police officer. There is pressure from the European Union to find resolutions; both Kosovo and Serbia want to become a part of the EU, however, admission to the EU is conditioned on the resolution of clashes between Kosovo and Serbia. Many worry that the current tensions may escalate into a bigger conflict.

Public response in Serbia to the talks was not supportive of negotiations. Right-wing protestors were seen shouting “treason,” and “no surrender,” along with banners that say, “Betrayal of Kosovo is betrayal of Russia!” from an article in the Washington Post. The Russian invasion of Ukraine sparked further division, as Putin has compared the Serbia-Kosovo situation to two regions in the Ukraine that are controlled by separatists (also Russian-supported). Western countries are invested in normalizing ties between the two countries, as a greater regional destabilization may emerge if they are not. It seems focus on the numerous opportunities created by collaboration between Kosovo and Serbia is what is needed in the moment. The consequences of regional destabilization have already been stated, and the current situation is not functional. A good amount of potential is held in negotiations right now, as both countries directly feel the costs of conflict, and therefore might be more open to ideas for resolution. It seems with the positive outcome of the most recent talks, both Vucic and Kurti could be falling into this higher line of thought.