President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic has announced a new phase of “internal dialogue on Kosovo” to be coordinated by Ana Brnabić’s government. Serbian mass media have been covering the issue constantly, but it is still uncertain, as the president promised to make public his initiatives on the Kosovo status in March 2018, after listening to the public opinion. While experts guess what Vucic will offer amid his predictions of “painful concessions,” some events that would seem impossible yet a month ago inspire people with hope that resolution of the issue will meet expectations of most Serbs. Talking to EADaily, Slobodan Antonic, a Serbian political analyst and sociologist, shares his views concerning the issue and the platform to be presented by Aleksandar Vucic in March.
He believes that Serbia should avoid making hasty decisions, as its positions are relatively weak so far. On the other hands, he says, the Kosovan separatists and their supporters have been losing ground too. We are witnessing certain pressure on Serbia by Kosovo’s patrons, since time works against them, Antonic elaborates.
“Changes are taking place evidently, and the side Serbia is negotiating with (Pristina and its supporters) is turning weaker. In chess, this is called a forced game. They are trying to make Belgrade take certain actions to pave the way towards recognition of Kosovo by international organizations. The grand prize in this game is a UN membership,” Antonic says.
He is sure that everything is done with that very goal. “It appears to be that it would be impossible, but for Serbia’s, or more precisely, Serbian leadership’s hints at possible concession. Evidently, Vucic made some signals yet as prime minister. At a certain point he even said that Pristina could not expect a seat at UN, unless it offers something that will satisfy Serbia. It sounded like readiness to discuss the issue,” the Serbian expert says.
He assumes that certain talks are held for the Kosovo status currently, amid pressure on Serbia. “I think 2018 will be a landmark year,” he says.
Perhaps, Slobodan Antonic says, they are working currently to achieve an agreement between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the so-called president of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, which will oblige the sides to implement all the provisions of the Brussels Agreement.
“I think the major provision of that agreement will say something like ‘the sides have agreed not to block each other at international organizations.’ Such wording is unconstitutional, but it will be drafted so that it will go unnoticed,” he says.
Basing on such wording, Pristina will make a final “speed march” to the UN, Antonic says. “They will initiate a UN membership procedure and this issue will appear on agenda of the Security Council. It will be a turning-point. By present, such a decision could not pass by the UN SC, because U.S., the Pristina patron, feared a veto by Russia and China. If the agreement is signed, I think Moscow could ask Belgrade if it agrees that Pristina becomes a UN member,” the Serbian political analyst describes the possible scenario.
In his words, Serbian experts assume such scenario. “On the other hand, we deal with a volatile and unforeseeable political figure like Vucic, and we cannot be sure that things will run the way I have described,” the expert says.
“Here is an example of such political unpredictability: once he recalled the entire staff of the Serbian Embassy in Macedonia. Such things are extremely rare in diplomatic procedures. They returned later,” he recalls. On the one hand, the expert says, there are preconditions for such scenario: Germany, EU, U.S., and, of course, Pristina literally push Belgrade towards it. One the other hand, it is very hard to say if that scenario will come true in March 2018.
Slobodan Antonic recalls that Kosovo once refused from accessing Interpol and UNESCO. The last time Kosovo applied for UNESCO, it lacked two or three votes to access it. Since then, Pristina has enlisted the support of the countries that did not support it then. “That is why I think the refusal from UNESCO or Interpol membership means that Pristina seeks to win big. It pursues accession to UN to make it easier for itself to achieve its other goals. That voluntary refusal from membership at above organizations paves the way towards recognition of Kosovo and provision of a UN membership to Pristina. It could happen on the model of two Germanies they have been speaking about for many years already,” Antonic explains.
As for Suriname’s diplomatic step, it remains unclear to the expert. “It is widely rumored in Belgrade that Moscow might be behind that. I will not comment rumors. Pristina’s refusal from UNESCO membership means more, I think, the more so as they had serious chances to access it. I think they seek more – a UN membership,” Slobodan Antonic says for conclusion.