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Tadic-Ashton meeting: Serbia evolves on Kosovo and wins a European stripe

Boris Tadic and Cathy Ashton (Credit: European Commission)

(BRUSSELS2) Following a meeting with the High Representative of the EU, Cathy Ashton, Serbian Prime Minister Boris Tadic seems to have agreed to significantly review his positions on the resolution that his country submitted to the General Assembly of the UN (the vote must take place on Thursday) on the status of Kosovo and the recent decision of the International Court of Justice. If on the European side, we remain very discreet, promising a declaration on Wednesday, in Belgrade, we are more verbose.

According to the daily Blic, the EU would have put on the table a “dialogue on the special status of northern Kosovo and the enclaves in the south” and the “acceleration” of the European integration process. In exchange, the government in Belgrade would remove most of the angry words from its draft declaration: “Unilateral secession is not an acceptable path to resolving problems” has been forgotten, the “discussion on all open questions” was replaced by “Dialogue” more consensual and there is no longer any mention of the future European perspective for “Serbia and Kosovo“, which implied that the two files were intrinsically linked. It all ends with a call for dialogue between “Belgrade and Pristina”.

A winning deal for all parties

This agreement has multiple benefits for everyone. For Serbia, this saves it from having to formally recognize Kosovo, from suffering a political defeat by withdrawing its resolution or obtaining an unfavorable vote in the General Assembly. For the European Union, this prevents it from arriving divided at the UN. As it stands, this resolution could, in fact, be voted on by the countries of the European Union: the 22 having recognized Kosovo as well as the 5 which have not done so, the last to have joined the compromise being Cyprus. This makes it possible to resolve the question of the Balkans on the continent without having to appeal internationally, to “fold the laundry” as a family, one could say. And, ultimately, this agreement could definitively open the way to membership for Serbia as well as for the neighboring republics of the Western Balkans. In passing, it allows the High Representative, Cathy Ashton, to display the first success of her “quiet diplomacy”, while she remains criticized for her absence on the Middle East issue, her lack of vigor on rights of man in Iran and its lack of appetite for crisis management or defense Europe.

The membership process initiated

On the process of Serbia's accession to the European Union, the British have, in fact, promised the Serbs that by the end of the year, Serbia's candidacy could be entrusted to the European Commission for an opinion , “if progress was made on Kosovo“. While the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle, a few days ago in Belgrade, affirmed that the ministers of the 27 would consider the question at the earliest in November, on the condition that Serbia does not enter into conflict with the 27 on Kosovo.

Serbia could thus quickly catch up with its twin brother and former rival, Croatia, whose accession process started in 2005 is well advanced or almost finished. And it could overtake the Republic of Macedonia (sorry... Fyrom as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) which also saw its candidacy recognized in 2005 but whose negotiations are blocked by the European countries, due to lack of settlement of the dispute relating to its name with Greece.

If this decision were to be confirmed, it would mean an important step in resolving the conflict in the Balkans on a quasi-anniversary date. 20 years ago, in fact, on September 7, 1990, Kosovo proclaimed its Constitution as the 7th republic of Yugoslavia. A few days later, on September 28, the province's autonomous status was abolished. 10 years later, on September 24, 2000, Milosevic left power defeated by another more presentable nationalist, Vojislav Kostunica.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).