The Forum for Ethnic Relations and the Open Foundation Serbia held a public debate within the “Diplomatic Dialogue” Program, on the following topic: “The State of Play and Prospects for the Brussels Dialogue”.
One participant in the debate, Blerem Shala, Advisor to Kosovo’s President, said that the dialogue should bring a lasting solution to the relationship problem. He assesses that the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo, is important not because the European Union is seeking it. “If someone thinks that the status quo is good for Kosovo, Serbia or people, they should ask Serbs in Kosovo about it,” said Shala. According to him, international circumstances have changed dramatically since 2012. Shala pointed at three crucial elements of the dialogue: deadline of approximately two years; final goal – a comprehensive normalization agreement in the form of a legally binding document; implementation mechanisms. “We missed a lot of opportunities because we were not ready for talks and a compromise. Ahtisaari Plan was a good compromise. Kosovo and Serbia have come too far to go back” said Shala.
Advisor to Kosovo’s President said it is too early to talk about what a legally binding agreement between Serbia and Kosovo will look like, stating that it will be part of a legal framework, not just a political declaration. “We hope that Russia will support a legally binding agreement and will not obstruct Kosovo’s entry to the United Nations. As long as Resolution 1244 remains in force, Kosovo cannot get recognition from the United Nations. A legally binding agreement should be the basis for a new resolution, Shala said.
Director of the Forum for Ethnic Relations, Dušan Janjić, said that Serbia and Kosovo are approaching the continuation and a new format of the dialogue. He reminded the audience that a new trend started from the beginning of February with optimistic signs that the political will is building, and that less nationalist narratives in the public. “None of the sides has the willingness to change, including Serbs, Albanians and the international community”, Janjić said. He suggests that future talks should focus on the issues of vital importance for people. In his view, a territorial delineation is not adequate solution – the only solution is the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. “We should have no illusions – there is no better solution than normalization of relations”, Janjić said.
Member of the Management Board of the Forum for Ethnic Relations, Zoran Milivojević, reminded that only for of over 20 agreements reached between Serbia and Kosovo, have been implemented in full. “The dialogue is progressing but the results remain weak. The dialogue must be intensified”, said Milivojević. He assessed that the dialogue on the normalization of relations has been pushed by external players. At the same time, history teaches that it is in the best interest of our region to avoid confrontation between the world’s big powers over local disputes.