Kosovo is a country that declared its independence in 2008 with the support of the United States (US) and its Western allies. Currently, Kosovo’s security is provided by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Kosovo Task Force (KFOR). Serbia, on the other hand, does not recognize the independence of the country in question.
The role played by the ideal of “Greater Serbia” in this attitude of the Belgrade administration is undeniable. In this context, Serbia is particularly interested in Bosnian Serbs and Kosovo Serbs. As a matter of fact, the situation of the Serbs living in the north of Kosovo often brings the parties face to face. The most concrete example of this is the reaction of Kosovo Serbs to the administration of Pristina in the context of the application of identity cards and license plates in the summer of 2022, bringing Kosovo and Serbia to the brink of war.
The process in question has created a situation where tensions rise in relation to the competition between the great powers as well as the region’s own internal dynamics. Because, as mentioned above, Kosovo stands out with its proximity to the USA and draws attention with the presence of KFOR in the country. On the other hand, Serbia is described as an actor close to Russia with the influence of pan-Slavism. Therefore, it has come to the fore that the tension between Russia and the West, which increased after the Russia-Ukraine War, could also be reflected in the Balkans. The rise in tension on the Kosovo-Serbia line took place in such an atmosphere.
In this process, Russia gave the message that a war it would lose would destabilize the West and essentially tried to put the European Union (EU) in a difficult situation. Because the Balkans is geographically Southeast Europe. Therefore, it is inevitable that a tension in the region will destabilize Europe. For this reason, the USA, via KFOR, is giving messages that will increase the tension in the defense of Kosovo; It has been seen that the EU is trying to reduce the tension by mediating.
On the other hand, it should be noted that; The EU has a serious advantage in mediation. This is the desire of both Kosovo and Serbia to become a member of the EU. For this reason, it was seen that the parties could sit around the same table in line with the efforts of the union and various negotiations were held.
At this point, the most important agenda item of the normalization process in relations on the Serbia-Kosovo line is the Franco-German Plan. Although this plan is not new, in the seventh article of its updated version in February 2023, the statements regarding the Union of Serbian Municipalities have formed a basis for negotiation in line with Belgrade’s priorities. Because the seventh article of the plan includes the following statements:
“Both sides advocate the conclusion of concrete agreements, in accordance with the relevant instruments of the Council of Europe and the use of existing European experience, to ensure an appropriate level of self-government and service for the Serb community in Kosovo.”
At this point, it should be stated that; There are some differences in the expectations of Serbia and Kosovo regarding normalization. While Serbia demands the establishment of the Union of Serbian Municipalities based on the self-government of Kosovo Serbs; Pristina administration, on the other hand, has the expectation that the independence of Kosovo will be recognized by Belgrade and that Kosovo’s membership in international organizations will not be vetoed by the Serbian administration.
As it can be understood, after the Union of Serbian Municipalities was clearly stated in the Franco-German Plan, it was a matter of curiosity how Kosovo would approach the issue. Essentially, it aims to ensure that the EU countries extend an olive branch to Belgrade on this issue and ensure that Serbia joins the sanctions against Russia and distances itself from Moscow. However, Kosovo’s approach to the plan is as important as Serbia in terms of normalization in Pristina-Belgrade relations.
To remind you, Kosovo accepted the issue of the Union of Serbian Municipalities in 2013 and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who was the leader of the opposition at that time, took this situation to the Constitutional Court. The court also closed the door to the Union of Serbian Municipalities. Therefore, it is not easy for Pristina to take concrete steps in this regard during Kurti’s term as the Prime Minister of Kosovo.
As might be expected, Pristina’s sensitivity towards the Union of Serbian Municipalities stems from the example of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pristina does not want a structure that will cast a shadow over Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Because there is a concern that such a structure will increase separatism. Moreover, this concern is not only in bureaucracy; dominates the society. For example, after the establishment of the Union of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo came to the agenda, many Kosovars protested in Pristina in January 2023. This is an extremely important anecdote, as it reveals how narrow the concession area of the cadres governing Kosovo is.
Despite all this, Kurti, in his statement on March 14, 2023, stated that the 15 models proposed by the EU’s Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak for the establishment of the Union of Serbian Municipalities were evaluated by his advisors and some ministersand in a sense, it left the door open for negotiations. However, Kurti also emphasized that the decisions to be taken will not be contrary to the laws and constitution of Kosovo. This means that Kurti gave a positive message for the negotiation process to work; however, when the decisions of the Constitutional Court are taken into consideration, it points out that it does not favor a step towards the Union of Serbian Municipalities. Therefore, the Pristina administration is trying to give the message to the EU that they are not a party to avoid negotiation. On the other hand, it should be reminded that Serbia considers the Union of Serbian Municipalities as the only condition and this was clearly stated by the President of Serbia Alexander Vucic on 13 March 2023.
In short, it seems unlikely that Kosovo, which states that it is ready to negotiate Serbia’s only condition, will accept this demand in possible negotiations. Obviously, in order for Pristina to approve the “Union of Serbian Municipalities” in the Franco-German Plan and expressed as the only condition by Belgrade, it will have to receive some concessions of the same seriousness in return. These are the recognition of Kosovo’s independence by Serbia and the veto of Kosovo’s membership in international organizations by the Belgrade administration. However, there is no indication that Serbia will take concrete steps on these issues. For this reason, it is unlikely that Pristina will meet the demand for the Union of Serbian Municipalities. For this reason, it can be argued that the negotiations, even if they serve to reduce the tension in the region, will not be enough for permanent peace.
 Begüm Akkaya, “Sırbistan Yeni Fransız-Alman Planı Sonrası Tutumunu Değiştirecek mi?”, ANKASAM, https://www.ankasam.org/sirbistan-yeni-fransiz-alman-plani-sonrasi-tutumunu-degistirecek-mi/, (Date of Accession: 16.03.2023).
 Doğacan Başaran, “Rising Tension on the Kosovo-Serbia Line”, ANKASAM, https://www.ankasam.org/rising-tension-on-the-kosovo-serbia-line/?lang=en, (Date of Accession: 16.03.2023).
 “Kosova’da “Sırp Belediyeler Birliği” Protestosu”, Anadolu Ajansı, https://www.ankasam.org/rising-tension-on-the-kosovo-serbia-line/?lang=en, (Date of Accession: 16.03.2023).
 “Kurti: “Danışmanlarım Sırp Belediyeler Birliği İçin Model Düşünüyor””, Balkan News, https://www.balkannews.com.tr/kosova/kurti-danismanlarim-sirp-belediyeler-birligi-icin-model-dusunuyor-h6118.html, (Date of Accession: 16.03.2023).
 “Vucic: “Tek şart Sırp Belediyeler Birliği””, Balkan News, , (Date of Accession: 16.03.2023).