The establishment of the Association of Serb-majority municipalities is a public demand of Serbia in relation to the final agreement in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, but the real demand includes “major autonomy”, says in an interview with Radio Free Europe, Naim Rashiti, director of the Group of the Balkans, which deals with policy research.
Rashiti also warns of the publication of a new “non-paper” and says this will happen because “there is an intense increase in the process of independence of the Republika Srpska” in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to him, “the ambitions of powerful nationalist actors have grown in the Balkans.”
Recently, the Balkan Group has engaged external experts to assist the Government of Kosovo in the dialogue process with Serbia.
Radio Free Europe: The Group for the Balkans, the Government of Kosovo and the Embassy of Norway, at the end of April, signed a memorandum of understanding, which sets out the modalities for engaging external experts in the dialogue process with Serbia and other agendas related to dialog. Specifically, what will be the role of this group?
Naim Rashiti: This is a continuation of a project that started earlier. We also had such an agreement with the Hoti Government. We support, we contract external experts, to serve the government, in this case the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister. In the previous government, he was the coordinator for dialogue and the prime minister with external experts on the issue of dialogue, ie to help the government prepare better for dialogue. Thus, our mandate ends.
Their names, their selection is done at the request of the government, but there are some criteria that should not be political representatives, should not be members of political entities. They should be and have special expertise in dialogue issues and all these people who are in the team right now, have their own expertise in dialogue both in financial terms, whether in international law or negotiations, or in relations and developments. of the EU, whether of previous dialogue processes, or the entire continuation of the dialogue.
These experts are contracted as experts to support the government and give responsibility in terms of content, to the prime minister and deputy prime minister. They work, commit to tasks related to dialogue and undertaken by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Radio Free Europe: Why do you think the Government of Kosovo or the Prime Minister needs such a group of experts from abroad?
Naim Rashiti: Different governments have always had help from abroad. And we have created an easy mechanism to mobilize such a group, and there may be other (names), or it may happen that one of them does not stay on the team, we do not know. It depends on the dynamics of the process that takes place, on the relationship and responsibilities they receive from the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister for external experts and their mobilization to help the government.
Kosovo has little tradition in this dialogue. Since the Vienna process, which was attended by the strategic political group and other experts working on the dialogue, there has been no continuation of these processes. And every government has failed to create a powerful group within the government that deals with this issue.
In Serbia, at best, 100 people work, in case they have issues to work on, up to 200 people from the institutional political structure are engaged, working on issues related to the dialogue with Kosovo. In this case, with the consent of the government and their understanding, I believe also with their welcome, we have created this team to help them.
Radio Free Europe: The new government initially said it did not consider the issue of dialogue a priority. But, she already declares that she considers it as a matter of national interest. How do you see the current commitment of the government to this process?
Naim Rashiti: Dialogue is for anyone in government. When we started this project, when we designed it, we did not know who would be in government and whether governments would change so often.
We now have a government led by Albin Kurti and responsible for dialogue, Besnik Bislim. Issues related to participation in dialogue, modalities of dialogue are political issues.
Kosovo’s European future goes through dialogue with Serbia, which is not at all good and is not at all welcome.
But, this is how the EU and the current government and any other government have formed their positions, they should work hard, engage a lot, intensively in dialogue and at the same time produce as much as possible, push as many agendas as possible. others with the EU, in parallel with the dialogue and especially with the EU member states, because Kosovo’s relations with Germany are not only through dialogue. Relations with France are not just through dialogue.
The current government should build pro-active agendas with EU institutions and EU member states, in parallel with dialogue, without slowing down or alienating dialogue, but pushing all agendas in parallel.
There is no agreement without intensive dialogue
Radio Free Europe: The Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has not yet managed to find a way to a final agreement. Where do you see the flaws in the process so far?
Naim Rashiti: We do not have an intensive process. There will be no agreement, there will be no agreement if there is no intensive dialogue process, if we do not have political support from all parties, in particular, if in Kosovo we do not have a political mobilization and strategic determination whether it will. do we end this or not. And in the international aspect we have to see what the EU has on the table together with the US, for a Kosovo-Serbia agreement.
None of the conflicts in the Balkans has been resolved only through bilateral dialogue, but it has been a package of a larger process, although not to resolve this issue in the interest of both parties, Kosovo and Serbia. But, it must be invested to have an intensive process one year, two years, three years, to seek the best agreement, an agreement that puts Kosovo on a completely different standard from what is today internationally.
Radio Free Europe: You mentioned political mobilization. The opposition has so far said that it will not be involved in the dialogue process, but will only monitor the dialogue. Do you expect a unification of the political factor in Kosovo regarding the dialogue?
Naim Rashiti: For a phase where a comprehensive agreement can be negotiated, there must necessarily be the involvement of all institutions, but also political entities. It is something that will require, in some form, the approval of all the main actors, the main subjects, it is necessary.
The mechanism of how this should be found we do not know. But, it is a little early to talk about these mechanisms or internal functioning, until we have a dynamic of dialogue, unless a clearer agenda of dialogue is known.
Will we have a dialogue agenda? We do not know because it will depend on Kosovo, Serbia and the EU. We need to understand correctly that the dialogue process is becoming more and more difficult, through the fault of all factors.
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