Kosovo Serbia dialogue back to limbo

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 25, 2020 15:09

Kosovo Serbia dialogue back to limbo

The implosion of an ill-fated effort

The announcement of the charges against Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci, former Assembly Speaker Kadri Veseli and other prominent former UCK leaders by the Specialist Prosecutors Office at the Hague brought to a swift and tumultuous end the hopes for the restart of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, an outcome much-awaited out of the Washington talks of June 27.

The subsequent immediate decision taken by the KosovoPresident to forego participation was the right one: his presence would put Kosovo in a very vulnerable position and at a ragingdisadvantage. The subsequent same step for Prime Minister Hotiis less obvious, however can be understood along the same lines. Additionally, Hoti carries way less clout in domestic politics and would be in an unfortunate symmetry against the newly crowned Vucic post elections in Serbia.

The development is seen by some experts as a painful but at the same time liberating death of these talks which would have beenthe apex of the rivalry between Washington and Brussels when itcame to the resolving of this key dispute. Kosovo and the dialogue in general had become a proxy in an intensely difficultrelation between the United States under the Trump Administration and the European Union. The sides of this strained transatlantic relation had found in the battle to reignite the defunct dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia another glossy opportunity to flex their muscle. 

For the moment the effort championed by the controversial, restless Ambassador Grenell, has imploded under the destructive timing of the indictments' announcement. The ball seems to be back to the old continent, not that this can be unqualified good news. The EU, fraught by the systemic glitch of having five member states that don't recognize Kosovo, for at least a decadehas failed to record any achievement in the dialogue. Its whole approach has been erratic, indecisive and sometimes ludicrous. The two key EU diplomats that are supposed to engage in the issue Borrel and Lajcak, come from non-recognizing sates and the latter has been publicly berated by none other than Thaci for voting against Kosovo's UNESCO membership application. So much for credibility! 

Now with the legal process against Thaci and others back on the arena, several new dimensions take prominence leaving the prospect of the dialogue in the mud. 

First the focus of the debate goes back into the debacle of the worth of the liberation war/ separatist fight depending on whichside is putting a name on it. In this context, it is painful to observe that the line between aggressors and victims is being blurred with every step taken by international (European) justice actors which conveniently surpass the fact that most of Serbian army's crimes in Kosovo have gone uninvestigated and unaccounted for. Observers like to point out the fact that everyone deserves justice butt his is exactly the same argument that should be valid for both sides. By this same standard we should recall that the other interlocutor who was to sit at the white House across Thaci, just weeks ago flatly denied the internationally recognized massacre of Rajcak whose authors are still at large. 

Second the reputation of the Special Prosecutors Office itself is heavily under scrutiny given the choice of publishing the charges while the Kosovo leaders were almost on the plane to the White House. The timing is a blow to the seriousness of the charges and the professionalism of the prosecutors who are reported to have reached the decision to press on with the charges since April. 

The posing of these charges puts into significant risk not only the existence of the bilateral dialogue but the entire fragile stability and security of this region. The court has yet to decide whether to accept the charges or not and one is left to hope that its decision might serve to expedite a way out of this impasse. 

However a big part of the damage has already been done from the very moment that the aircraft aimed for that trans-Atlantic flight departed without its VIP passengers. 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times June 25, 2020 15:09