9. July. 2020. | 12:22

MSC: Difficult to reach an agreement with compromised leaders in Belgrade and Pristina

After the cancellation of the summit in Washington, the EU was given the opportunity to mediate more dynamically in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina. The chances for reaching an agreement on normalization are not great due to the shortcomings in the approach that the EU has towards the negotiations, but also due to the excessive reliance on Presidents Vučić and Thaci. These are some of the views expressed during the online debate of the Mitrovica Social Club called "Openly about dialogue", which was held on July 8. Rada Trajković, president of the European Movement of Kosovo Serbs, Augustin Palokaj, correspondent of Koha Ditore and the Croatian Jutarnji list from Brussels, and Borko Stefanović, former head of the Belgrade negotiating team, spoke about the prospect of continuing the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Ognjen Gogić, head of the NGO AKTIV office in Pristina, was the debate's moderator.


At the beginning of the debate, the panelists reflected on the citizen's protests that were held in Belgrade on the night between July 7 and 8. Borko Stefanović spoke about the coercion that the police applied to the protesters. Augustin Palokaj shared the information that the events in Belgrade were the first news in the media in Belgium. The panelists pointed out that the autocratic character of the authorities in Belgrade could lead to new protests in relation to the dialogue with Pristina due to the lack of transparency under which it is taking place.

As for the statement of the Special Prosecutor's Office on the indictment against President Thaci, the panelists agreed that it was a matter of time before such news would come. Augustin Palokaj commented that the indictment was not a surprise, but that the statement of the prosecution was a strange move, which was probably taken due to the fear that during the negotiations there could be a proposal for amnesty or abolition of the Special Court. Stefanović stated that such a development indicates that there is a split in the United States between the White House and the National Security Council, on one hand, and the State Department, on the other. According to Stefanović, Grenell tried to reach an agreement in a quicker way, but it is now clear that the process cannot go beyond the UN mandate.

The participants in the debate agree that Brussels has been given a new chance to mediate in the dialogue, but that the process is long and burdensome. Rada Trajković assessed that Presidents Vučić and Thaci for a long time had a monopoly over the negotiations that were conducted in the direction of exchanging territories, as their joint project, in which they invested a lot. As Thaci can no longer conduct negotiations on the Pristina side, the responsibility shifts to Prime Minister Hoti, who does not have enough support. According to Augustin Palokaj, Kosovo needs internal consolidation before the dialogue.

When there is no hope of enlargement, there is no lure that the EU can offer the parties to negotiate, which is why Palokaj sees the only hope for the success of the dialogue in the sincere engagement of Germany and France. The negotiation process is slow, precisely because of the slow process of European integration, which is reflected in the refusal of France and other EU members to approve visa liberalization with Kosovo.

Borko Stefanović is skeptical that an agreement can be reached with compromised leaders, such as Serbian President Vučić, who has the image of a European dictator, and Kosovo President Thaci, who is suspected of war crimes. Rada Trajković has a similar opinion, concluding that a new democratic generation is needed in Belgrade and Pristina, which will work on the fight against crime and offer new solutions, which will not imply ethnic divisions.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoJu9iXrs8M

The debate of the Mitrovica Social Club was conducted with the support of the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society.