The legally binding normalization agreement between Belgrade and Pristina may set a trap for Serbia, which opposes the recognition of the self-declared Kosovo Republic, Vladislav Jovanovic, a former Serbian diplomat told Sputnik, outlining four scenarios for Kosovo’s joining the UN.
While the president of the self-proclaimed Kosovo Republic, Hashim Thaci, has expressed hope Pristina and Belgrade will conclude a historic normalization treaty by the end of 2018, the situation is not as easy as it seems, Vladislav Jovanovic, a former Serbian diplomat who was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Yugoslavia, told Sputnik Serbia.
The legally binding normalization agreement will not imply a mandatory recognition of Kosovo’s independence by Belgrade, but may pave the way for Kosovo’s UN membership. According to Jovanovic, there are four scenarios Kosovo might try to implement to join the UN.
First Scenario: ‘Two Germanys’
The first scenario could be implemented under the formula once proposed by German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger: Kosovo and Serbia could co-exist like the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and German Democratic Republic (GDR) — e.g. without mutual recognition, but as members of the UN.
“This [scenario] is an attempt to avoid the direct recognition [of Kosovo’s independence] which actually sets a trap for Serbia,” Jovanovic explained. “They are trying to fulfill this through the so-called comprehensive agreement between Serbia and the breakaway province. This is dangerous, as in this case [Kosovo] could circumvent Russia and China’s veto [in the UN Security Council] by referring to the legally binding treaty between Belgrade and Pristina.”
However, according to the former politician, Belgrade is unlikely to walk into this trap.
Second Scenario: Revising National Borders in the Balkans
The former diplomat suggested that it is equally possible that the West will stop insisting on the uniqueness of the case of Kosovo and will push ahead with the revising of state borders in the Balkans on ethnic principles.
“In this case, the national issue of Serbia, Croatia and Albania would be solved by taking into account the number of the nations’ representatives living outside these countries,” Jovanovic said. “This theory was voiced by an American professor several months ago, however it has not won much support in the US itself, which means that the idea is not yet ripe or maybe won’t ripen at all.”
The diplomat’s assumption is an apparent reference to the statement by US congressman Dana Tyrone Rohrabacher who in early 2017 suggested that the southern Serbian territories inhabited by the Albanians should be swapped for the Serbian-populated northern Kosovo.
Third Scenario: In the Footsteps of Vatican
Jovanovic does not rule out that Kosovo may also try to obtain an observer status in the UN, following the example of Vatican.
He noted that the issue of granting an observer status is decided by the UN General Assembly by two thirds of the votes, but the problem is that there is no consensus on the Kosovo issue within the GA.
“The popularity of Kosovo as a self-proclaimed state is fading, some states — however, so far a few — have already reconsidered their decision to recognize [Kosovo’s] independence [Suriname],” the former politician emphasized. “In addition, the current state of affairs will become an additional argument for the countries with ethnic minorities to exercise caution and not to believe in the theory of the uniqueness of the Kosovo case as well as the impossibility of recurrence of this situation in other states.”
Fourth Scenario: Will Serbia Recognize Kosovo Voluntarily?
According to Jovanovic, it is hard to believe that Serbia will succumb to the pressure and reconcile itself with the loss of Kosovo and Metohija. He stressed that these issues should be solved through a nation-wide referendum and it is clear that the citizens of Serbia will vote against the recognition of Kosovo. The former foreign minister of Yugoslavia believes that Serbia needs to stand firm on its position and wait for the change of circumstances which may force Western powers to revise their approach to the Kosovo problem.
“The situation is still unclear, but the West is rushing [to solve the Kosovo issue], since this ‘black hole’ should not exist so long in the center of Europe — the most stable continent in the world. This issue should either be closed, or reformulated and re-negotiated with Serbia, or abandoned at all, because it cannot be turn into reality,” Jovanovic concluded.
Ten years ago, on February 17, 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. The self-proclaimed republic has received 117 diplomatic recognitions, one of which was revoked in October 2017.
The Kosovo issue remains the bone of contention between Belgrade and Pristina. However, Brussels convinced the two to start negotiations on the normalization of relations in 2011. Almost fourteen years after the end of the Kosovo War (1998-1999) Belgrade and Pristina signed the Brussels agreement on April 19, 2013 which became the first step on the path to normalization. However, Kosovo Serbs protested against the deal.
The final legally binding agreement between Serbia and the self-proclaimed republic has yet to be inked. For its part, Brussels signaled that the improvement in the Belgrade-Pristina relations is a mandatory condition for Serbia and Kosovo’s future EU membership.
Serbia received its EU candidate status in March 2012, while the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between Brussels and Kosovo entered into force on April 1, 2016.