Are Kosovo and Serbia Moving Away from The Normalization Process?

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The European Union (EU) draws attention as an example of a very successful supranational organization. Although it is not considered a global power in the military sense, it makes its impact felt especially in the economic sense. The EU provides various opportunities to its member states and takes serious steps towards integration. Although it is difficult to implement some decisions due to the national interests of the member states, it is seen that the importance given to the integration of the region by the EU has increased especially due to the Russian factor.

As it is known, the EU has been implementing various sanctions against Russia for a while. In this context, the union, which wanted to reduce Russia’s mobility, turned its face to the Western Balkans. Thus, both security and cooperation in the region will increase and Russia’s room for maneuver will be narrowed. In fact, it has been argued that the EU enlargement will not be limited to this, but will also include Ukraine.[1]

During its enlargement process towards the Western Balkans, the EU aims to mediate especially for the resolution of the ongoing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia and for the normalization of relations between the parties. It has provided various incentives by using its economic power for the normalization of relations. In addition, the union is putting pressure on speeding up the process. Particularly, Serbia has been criticized for its relations with Russia. Although the EU wanted to join the sanctions against Russia, the Belgrade administration did not accept this easily.

In this regard, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said, “If we had imposed sanctions, relations would not have been the same.” expression in the form,[2] shows Serbia’s position. This attitude has taken its place among the developments that show that Russia-Serbia relations will not be broken easily despite all the efforts of the EU.

In addition, Russia’s statement to the United Nations Security Council that it will bring the issue of the establishment of the Union of Serbian Municipalities can be read as another indicator of the strong dialogue between the two countries.[3]

The EU, which strives to increase its influence in the region despite the Russia-Serbia relations, has held various meetings involving international factors. It is obvious how important the relations between Kosovo and Serbia are in the eyes of the EU, both with its emphasis on dialogue between the two countries and its regional initiatives. In this context, EU Special Representative for the Western Balkans Miroslav Lajcak emphasizes the focus of the parties on normalization.[4]

On the other hand, it would be incomplete to say that the only actor interested in the relations of the two states is the EU. Because the United States of America (USA) not to lose its influence in the region; on the contrary, it makes various moves to strengthen it even more. One of the important statements on this issue was made by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Kosovo Peacekeeping Force (KFOR). KFOR underlined its security support for the advancement of the EU’s diplomatic efforts and drew attention to the political dialogues.[5]  The important point here is that the USA is not only interested in the bilateral relations of Serbia and Kosovo; At the same time, it is trying to create a dialogue corridor that includes other states in the region.

It can be said that with this attitude of the USA, it aims to expand its influence by increasing its contacts in the region. In this context, US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar drew attention to the contribution of the USA and the EU in the agreement between the parties and stated that the countries in the region also support this issue. He especially expressed the importance of North Macedonia on this issue.[6] As a matter of fact, the Washington administration states that it focuses on the normalization process. In particular, the emphasis that the stability of the region depends on it shows that the USA will not give up on the issue easily. Washington particularly advocates the implementation of the Serbian Community of Municipalities.[7]

It is obvious that the will of Kosovo and Serbia will guide the process, based on the principle of sovereign equality of states in the last instance. Despite the various steps of the leading actors in the global system, it is obvious that the relations of the two states will not easily normalize. Because there are serious differences between the views of the parties on this issue.[8]

With the normalization process, the parties’ sitting at the table gave rise to some hopes that the recognition problem could be solved in the first place. In particular, Ramush Haradinaj, Chairman of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, stated that he believes mutual recognition of Serbia will take place.[9] However, it is clear that this hope is relatively remote. In particular, the fact that Kosovo is still a part of Serbia from the moment it was founded reveals that the recognition in question will not come easily. The reality that Serbia still sees Kosovo as a part of it, despite the initiatives of the leading actors, is also understood from the speech Dacic gave to Bosnia and Herzegovina.[10]

It is known that the process is not easy to run smoothly, although the parties show positive attitudes from time to time in the steps towards normalization. The Union of Serbian Municipalities is seen as a key role for the process in question. However, there are differences in the attitudes of the parties on this issue. Because Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti opposes the establishment of a similar Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the north of Kosovo.[11]

Although the negotiations between the parties continue, the expectations regarding the progress of the process in a positive direction are weakening. The fact that Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated that she had no expectations from the meeting in Brussels and moreover, that Kosovo deliberately disrupted the functioning, shows that the parties are far from normalization for a while.[12]

Despite the negative developments in this process, the EU’s interest in the issue continues. In particular, the EU, which strives for the healthy progress of the process, emphasizes that the regulation on the Union of Serbian Municipalities should both comply with European standards and be acceptable to both parties.[13] However, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated after his meeting with Kurti that Kosovo did not fulfill the requirements regarding the Union of Serbian Municipalities.[14] These developments damage the hopes of the parties for normalization. In particular, it can be said that Kurti’s statement that he fundamentally disagreed with the draft regulation in Brussels made the normalization process more difficult.[15]

In the last instance, it can be stated that it is not easy for the normalization process between Kosovo and Serbia to run smoothly despite all the efforts of the USA and the EU. Although efforts continue due to security concerns, it is clear that this normalization will not occur in the short term. In addition, it should be said that the parties did not take drastic steps to prevent the formation of a public opinion against them in the region. However, due to the attitudes of the two sides, it is thought that the USA and the EU will make various moves in the coming days for the dialogue process to work. Because both main actors care about this issue for the security of the region.

[1] “Polonya: AB’nin Batı Balkanlar’a Genişlemesi Önceliklerden Biridir”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 02.05.2023).

[2] “Sırbistan Dışişleri Bakanı Ivica Dacic: “Yaptırımlar Getirseydik Rusya Kosova Konusundaki Tutumunu Değiştirmeyecekti ama İlişkiler Eskisi Gibi Olmayacaktı”, Slobodenpecat,, (Date of Accession: 10.04.2023).

[3] “Rusya’nın Belgrad Büyükelçisi Aleksandar Bochan-Karchenko: “Kosova’daki Sırp Belediyeler Birliği Konusunu BM Güvenlik Konseyi’nde Gündeme Getireceğiz”, Slobodenpecat,, (Date of Accession:13.04.2023).

[4] “AB Batı Balkanlar Özel Temsilcisi Miroslav Lajcak: “Kosova’nın Kuzeyindeki Bazı Olaylar Endişe Verici, AB Kosova ve Sırbistan’ın İlişkilerin Normalleşmesine Odaklanmasını Bekliyor”, Danas,, (Date of Accession:16.04.2023).

[5] “KFOR: “İbar Köprüsü’nün Yeniden Açılması Ancak Siyasi Diyalogla Mümkündür”, Slobodenpecat,, (Date of Accession: 30.04.2023).

[6] “ABD’nin Batı Balkanlar Özel Temsilcisi Gabriel Escobar: “Kuzey Makedonya’nın Desteği Olmasaydı Sırbistan ile Kosova Arasında Anlaşmaya Varılamazdı”, Slobodenpecat,, (Date of Accession: 14.04.2023).

[7] “Escobar: Ohri Anlaşması’nın uygulanması ZSO’dan Başlamalı”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 03.05.2023).

[8] “Kurti, ‘Yeni RS’yi Kabul Etmiyor; Vučić: ‘Bir Anlaşmaya Varmak ya da Her Şeyin Sonu”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession:03.05.2023).

[9] “Haradinay: Sırbistan ile Karşılıklı Tanıma Anlaşmasına İnanıyoruz”, Slobodenpecat,, (Date of Accession: 03.05.2023).

[10] “Sırbistan Dışişleri Bakanı Ivica Dacic, Bosna Hersek’i Kosova Oylaması Konusunda Eleştirdi”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 30.04.2023).

[11] “Kurti: Kosova’nın Kuzeyinde Sırp Cumhuriyeti Olmayacak”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 01.05.2023).

[12] “Brnabic: Brüksel’deki Görüşmeden Bir Şey Beklemiyorum, Kurti Kasıtlı Olarak Sözleşmeyi Bozuyor” Slobodenpecat,, (Date of Accession: 03.05.2023).

[13] “Belgrad ve Priştine Kayıp Şahıslar Deklarasyonunu Kabul Ettiler, ZSO Görüşülüyor” Slobodenpecat,, (Date of Accession: 03.05.2023).

[14] “Priştine’deki Görüşmelerin Ardından Vuciç: Duvara Çarptık, Priştine’nin DSÖ’ye Karşı Yükümlülüklerini Yerine Getirme Niyetinde Olmadığı Açık” Slobodenpecat,, (Date of Accession: 03.05.2023).

[15] “Kurti ZSO İçin Yeni Bir Tüzük Taslağı Önerdi, Eskisi için “Kosova’da Sırp Cumhuriyeti Arzusunu Temsil Ediyor” Diyor.” Slobodenpecat,, (Date of Accession: 04.05.2023).