Phillips: Until Serbia shows will, Kurti should not enter into dialogue only for the sake of it – Latest News
The new approach of the new Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti at the negotiating table with Serbian President Aleksandar Vuiqi po is seen as appropriate and necessary for Kosovo by the American analyst David Phillips.
Despite this change in the course of negotiations on the Kosovo side, Phillips does not see an agreement that will ultimately provide a solution to the conflicts between Kosovars and Serbs in the near future. But he blames Serbia and personally President Vucic for the failure of attempts at reconciliation.
In an interview with the Klankosova portal, Professor Phillips says that Kosovo does not need to sign an agreement that is to its detriment only for the sake of dialogue.
“As Kurti has shown, Kosovo has urgent problems: jobs, justice and the COVID-19 pandemic. Kosovo is already an independent country and there is no need to negotiate its status. Details of a mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia need to be addressed. “Until Serbia shows goodwill, Prime Minister Kurti must be careful not to take part in talks simply for the sake of dialogue.”
For the decade-long dialogue process, Phillips, who is also director of the Peace Institute at Columbia University in New York, agrees that conversations are better than confrontations, but that they need some results.
To get there, the American analyst says that his country, the USA, should be more directly involved, by appointing a presidential emissary who will complement the European emissary, Lajcak, in his efforts.
And U.S. involvement should not only be the appointment of an envoy, but also have some punitive role alongside the EU for the party not implementing the agreement and hindering progress on the path to finding peace.
“A final agreement can only happen when Vucic understands the price he will pay for the obstacles. “There must be a cost to Vucic personally if he continues to deny reality and hinder progress.”
The dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia is resuming. The new Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, said that this process is not a continuation of what it was until now. Do you think that Kosovo should radically change its approach to dialogue with Serbia?
David Phillips: The dialogue has been going on for a decade. Talking is better than confronting, but talking needs some results. The focus has been on the license plates, diplomas, prefixes, etc. and the EU should review in detail the implementation of the 33 existing agreements. However, the goals of the negotiations were never set. The parties must agree that independence and sovereignty are the goals of the negotiations. The time has come to focus on core issues and not on confidence-building measures.
What should be Kosovo’s position at the negotiating table?
David Phillips: As Kurti has shown, Kosovo has urgent problems: jobs, justice and the COVID-19 pandemic. Kosovo is already an independent country and there is no need to negotiate its status. Details of a mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia need to be addressed. But until Serbia shows goodwill, Prime Minister Kurti must be careful not to take part in talks simply for the sake of dialogue. “This does not mean a boycott of the talks, which will be used by Serbia to discredit Kosovo.”
In the first introductory meeting he had with President Vucic, Kurti went with four new proposals. How did you see them?
David Phillips: Missing Persons: Information and finding mortal remains is essential to moving forward. Taking responsibility and compensation are also needed. The perpetrators of crimes have no place at the negotiating table. Veljko Odalovic and Zoran Andjelkovic should be tried on suspicion of crimes, not in Brussels.
Trade: Economic cooperation lays the groundwork for long-term peace-building and reconciliation. To optimize the positive benefits, trade agreements and infrastructure developments cannot be one-sided. Both parties need to benefit substantially.
Peace Pact: A formal agreement would give a clear signal that disputes should be resolved through negotiations and not violent conflicts.
Reciprocity: Serbia must protect and promote the rights of its Albanian minority in line with the provisions on minority rights that exist in the Kosovo Constitution and the Ahtisaari principles. The Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities is redundant and should not be the focus of negotiations. An institutional mechanism is needed to monitor and implement rights agreements for Kosovo Serbs as well as Albanians in Serbia.
Kurti told MEPs that the authors of the documents that would bring ideas for a final solution between Kosovo and Serbia are missing. Do you think the EU should offer a concrete solution to the parties?
David Phillips: Serbia will not recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty and independence unless it is pressured. Instead of endless negotiations leading nowhere, the US and EU should set out the details of a full and final agreement, then present it to both parties. Cooperation will be rewarded and obstacles will be punished.
What should be the role of the US in this resumed process?
David Phillips: Transatlantic cooperation will increase prospects for success. To improve the architecture of negotiations, the US needs to improve its diplomacy by appointing a Special Presidential Envoy to complement Miroslav Lajcak’s work. Without stronger US engagement, negotiations are unlikely to achieve anything.
According to the public statements, both Kurti and Vuiqi kanë have very opposite views. Do you think that the agreement that would bring final reconciliation between Kosovars and Serbs is close?
David Phillips: A final deal can only happen when Vucic realizes the price he will pay for the obstacles. Beyond Chapter 35, which makes Serbia’s EU accession conditional on good neighborly relations, there must be a cost to Vucic personally if he continues to deny reality and impede progress. There are suspicions that he and his brother have substantial assets dishonestly taken from foreign banks. “These assets must be frozen until Vucic agrees to cooperate.”