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Will Serbia Change Its Position After the New Franco-German Plan?

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Although Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, the effect of Serbia’s refusal to recognize this country still continues. In this context, Serbia tries to prevent Kosovo from entering supranational and international organizations such as the United Nations (EU) and the European Union (EU).

As it is known, the tension between the parties escalated after the expiration of the agreement signed between Serbia and Kosovo for free movement in traffic on license plates. In this context, it is seen that especially the Serbs in the north of Kosovo blocked the roads by setting up barricades. The EU is engaged in mediation activities in order to put an end to the tension between Serbia and Kosovo, which has become a routine and rises with the establishment of barricades in the north.

The Franco-German Plan comes to the fore both due to the conditions Serbia is facing regarding Kosovo as of 2023 and the course of relations on the Pristina-Belgrade line. The said plan, supported by international actors in the role of mediator such as the United States (USA) and the EU, was first presented to Serbia and Kosovo by Europe in September 2022. However, a consensus could not be reached between the parties and thus the process for the improvement of relations between the two countries was frozen. Even while discussing the plan submitted by the EU, Serbian President Alexander Vucic stated that the fact that Kosovo is a member of the United Nations (UN) is unacceptable for Belgrade, as it would be against its constitution.[1]

The first Franco-German Plan basically envisages good neighborly relations between the two countries, mutual respect for their territorial integrity and jurisdiction, and the development of peaceful relations in the Western Balkans within the scope of regional security and cooperation in Europe.[2] After the failure to reach an agreement on this plan, the tension in the region increased again with the establishment of barricades by the Serbs in the north of Kosovo after the detention of a Serbian police officer in December 2022.[3] Afterwards, the EU intensified its efforts to achieve reconciliation between the parties. In this context, it is seen that the new Franco-German Plan, which was revised and presented to both Kosovo and Serbia, mentioned similar points in its original form.

Following the publication of the second version of the Franco-German Plan, obtained from diplomatic sources, by the Serbian newspaper Danas, EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak stated that the philosophy of the plan has not changed.[4] On the other hand, an article in the new version of the plan may cause a change in Serbia’s attitude. Because in the 7th article of the new version of the Franco-German Plan, the issue of the establishment of the Union of Serbian Municipalities, which has caused more pressure on Kosovo in recent days, is given in detail. The aforementioned article includes the following statements:[5]

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.”

In addition, the relevant text includes a regulation that will formalize the status of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo. However, in article 4 of the plan, Serbia is required to undertake that it will not oppose Kosovo’s membership of any organization.[6] At this point, while negotiations were held between the two sides in November 2022; It should be recalled that Vucic stated that they will not accept Kosovo’s membership in organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the EU.

Despite this approach of Belgrade, the mediators gave a warning that could change Serbia’s stance. Because, in his press statement on January 23, 2023, Vucic stated that the mediators told him that if the proposals are not accepted, Serbia’s European integration process will be interrupted, investments in the country will be stopped and withdrawn.[7]

In this context, when we look at Vucic’s recent statements, it can be said that although he leaves the final decision to the Serbian people, he has a moderate approach to the acceptance of Europe’s proposal. Following Vucic’s statement, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic also stated that EU membership continues to be a strategic goal for Serbia on January 24, 2023 and made a moderate statement regarding the EU’s views on the Russia-Ukraine War.[8]

In conclusion, looking at all these developments, it can be said that Serbia has a moderate approach to the new Franco-German Plan, both with the motivation of EU membership and because of the fear of isolation similar to Russia due to the possibility of withdrawal of investments. In addition, the fact that the establishment of a Union of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo, which Beglrad has frequently mentioned, is included in the plan will be effective in Serbia’s positive approach to the plan. Therefore, an important turning point may be experienced in Serbia-Kosovo relations.


[1] “Belgrade, Pristina Confirm German-French Proposal for Kosovo Deal”, Balkan Insight, https://balkaninsight.com/2022/10/10/belgrade-pristina-confirm-german-french-proposal-for-kosovo-deal/, (Date of Accession: 27.01.2023).

[2] “Leak: Franco-German plan to resolve the Kosovo-Serbia dispute”, Euractiv, https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/leak-franco-german-plan-to-resolve-the-kosovo-serbia-dispute/, (Date of Accession: 27.01.2023).

[3] “Serbia Puts Troops on High Alert as Tensions with Kosovo Rise”, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/dec/27/serbia-puts-troops-on-high-alert-as-tensions-with-kosovo-rise, (Date of Accession: 27.01.2023).

[4]  “Lajçak jep detaje për propozimin franko-gjerman: I ka 11 pika, duhet t’i japim fund krizave me një marrëveshje”, Gazeta Express, https://www.gazetaexpress.com/lajcak-jep-detaje-per-propozimin-franko-gjerman-i-ka-11-pika-duhet-ti-japim-fund-krizave-me-nje-marreveshje/, (Date of Accession: 27.01.2023).

[5] “Danas publikon 10 pikat e planit franko-gjerman: Kosova dhe Serbia ia njohin njëra-tjetrës simbolet e dokumentet”, Gazeta Express, https://www.gazetaexpress.com/danas-publikon-10-pikat-e-planit-franko-gjerman-kosova-dhe-serbia-ia-njohin-njera-tjetres-simbolet-e-dokumentet/, (Date of Accession: 27.01.2023).

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Ako ne prihvatimo plan petorke, prekidaju se evropske integracije Srbije“: Šta je sve rekao Vučić u svom obraćanju?”, Danas, https://www.danas.rs/vesti/politika/obracanje-vucica-o-kosovu/, (Date of Accession: 27.01.2023).

[8] “Членството во ЕУ останува стратешка цел на Србија, рече Дачиќ”, Nova Makedonija, https://novamakedonija.com.mk/svet/balkan/chlenstvoto-vo-eu-ostanuva-strateshka-cel-na-srbija-reche-dachikj/, (Date of Accession: 27.01.2023).

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Begüm AKKAYA
Ankara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü