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To recognize Kosovo for Hillary Clinton or not to do it for the sake of Serbia: Belgrade holds onto status quo

The Serbian leadership is trying to preserve the status quo in Kosovo, but recent statements by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić that recognition of Kosovo’s independence by the Serbian government would help settle the existing discrepancies and that the planned visit of some Kosovo Albanian businesspersons to Belgrade – Vučić announced that visit after his talks with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden – may mean that the West is trying to increase pressure on Serbia over this painful issue.

Vučić stated that the only solution on Kosovo and Methochia to untangle the deadlock would be recognition of Kosovo’s independence by Serbia’s government, which, despite the reservation that such decision is impossible, could pave the way to changes in Serbia’s stance on Kosovo. The more so as, a possibility of Serbia recognizing Kosovo has been voiced at such high level for the first time.

Alexander Kravchenko, the head of the Kosovo Front organization, does not rule out such developments either. He assessed Vučić’s words as a measure to prepare the public opinion in Serbia for a movement towards recognition of Kosovo.

“Preparation of the Serbian public and Serbia for recognition of Kosovo’s independence has been held for at least ten years already, and maybe even longer. Various representatives of the government, starting from liberals and socialists in the person of Ivica Dačić, have come out with statements on the issue. This rhetoric is drawing nearer the moment when Serbia will recognize Kosovo as an independent state. Therefore, Vučić said nothing new. This is just a step towards that moment which will come eventually,” Kravchenko said.

Although the Serbian public is not ready yet to recognize Kosovo, he said, U.S. may promote such a decision ahead of elections so that the Democrats have a foreign policy victory – resolution of the protracted conflict in the Balkans.

The expert does not rule out that radical decisions on the status of Kosovo will be adopted soon by Serbia. “This is connected with the elections in U.S. Barack Obama is finishing his career and needs an asset to leave with. It is quite possible that they press Serbia to make such decision even now. And Obama will come out as the one who settled the years-old conflict. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton (candidate for U.S. president from Democratic Party – EADaily’s note) will benefit from this too. Her husband unleashed the war, and finally the problem would be resolved. Yet, it is very hard to imagine such developments at the given stage, since the Serbian public is not ready for it yet. Nevertheless, this is not impossible,” says Kravchenko, who believes that today’s leadership in Serbia is “the marionettes of the West.”

Senior research fellow at Slavonian Studies Institute at Russian Academy of Sciences, Pyotr Iskenderov sees things differently. He does not anticipate any radical decisions on Kosovo after the meeting with representatives of the Kosovo Albanians. “This is just a political process within the Brussels arrangements (a number of agreements made in Brussels to normalize the relations of Belgrade and Pristina – EADaily’s note) that were achieved under the aegis of the European Union. Everyday contacts, interaction between Belgrade and the authorities of Pristina, between the Serbs of Kosovo and the authorities of Pristina have continued. Another matter is that contacts of officials were traditionally accompanied by problems in the security field. The point is that Serbia seeks to meet the EU requirements at the same time shifting the relations with Pristina to the field of humanitarian contacts, ensuring the rights of the Kosovo Serbs, some arrangements on the trade and economic relations, on protection of the Serbian cultural monuments in Kosovo,” Iskenderov says.

He does not think that Biden has any special part in that process, since his demands were much tougher than just observation of the Brussels arrangements. The expert is sure that Serbia will not recognize Kosovo’s independence any time soon.

Iskenderov believes that the government of Serbia has a very little area, if any, to maneuver in the Kosovo issue, since the EU has been demanding Belgrade to normalize its relations with Pristina during the recent years. “It is clear that the normalization the way the EU demands it requires a de-facto recognition of Kosovo’s independence. Now Serbia seeks to develop its relations with the EU and U.S. actively. It is evident that the Kosovo problem will impede that cooperation. And finally, the third factor is that the public opinion has changed significantly inside Serbia. The last parliamentary elections of this spring showed that the forces advocating for European integration of Serbia even through a range of concessions still enjoy a high public support. It is quite clear that the public is not ready for de jure recognition of Kosovo either. At the same time, the public believes that de jure recognition of Kosovo’s independence is impossible, but Serbia de facto has no levers of control over what is happening in Kosovo. Serbia cannot reverse the process of Kosovo’s recognition by the Western powers and not only by them. Therefore, Serbia seeks to preserve the status quo when Kosovo is not a UN member and there are Brussels arrangements that give at least some guarantees to the Kosovo Serbs,” the expert says.

Actually, as he thinks, it is not the right time to speak about any breakthroughs. And the issue of the political recognition of Kosovo by Serbia will be either put off agenda if Serbia joins EU without recognition of Kosovo by Belgrade or it will be settled not in favor of Belgrade if the situation of Serbia worsens.

“If Serbia and Kosovo, which is recognized by a number of countries but is not a UN member, are admitted to the EU simultaneously, and at the same time Serbia is not required to recognize Kosovo’s independence, there will be no need in the political recognition by Serbia any longer. However, the EU is not ready to either admit Serbia with Kosovo or develop any concession formula. So, I think that during the coming years, Serbia will not recognize Kosovo politically, but if the situation gets worse for Serbia, I think, Belgrade will eventually recognize Kosovo’s independence,” he says.

Earlier this week, after his meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said that approximately in a month Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama will be in Belgrade along with some Albanian representatives from Kosovo and Metochia.

Earlier EADaily reported that during debates on the new staff of the government in Skupština, Aleksandar Vučić said the only solution on Kosovo and Methochia to untangle the deadlock would be recognition of Kosovo’s independence by Serbia’s government, but it cannot and will not do it.

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