- October 08, 2020
On October 8, the Aspen Institute Germany hosted an online discussion on the topic “Prospects for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue” with Miroslav Lajčák, EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and Other Western Balkan Regional Issues, Sonja Licht, President, Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE), Naim Rashiti, Executive Director, Balkans Policy Research Group (BPRG), and Susanne Schütz, Director for South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, EFTA States, OSCE and Council of Europe, German Federal Foreign Office.
In 2011, three years after Kosovo declared its independence, the EU started to facilitate a dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. Since then, several agreements on technical issues have been reached but little progress has been made in the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. During the discussion, panel members collectively reflected on challenges of past attempts at normalization and formulated requirements to make future negotiations more successful.
As was explained by panel members, the stagnation in negotiations over the last years has contributed to an erosion of popular trust in a mediated resolution. Referencing a number of achievements such as the roaming agreement or the recognition of diploma, however, they also highlighted the need for governments to more comprehensively inform the public of both progress and grievances in regard to ongoing negotiations as to facilitate public discourse and secure their constituencies’ support for reconciliation. In line with this point, the discussion focused on options to open secondary tracks and involve additional actors from civil society and academia as mediating actors. As of recently, so participants voiced their hopes, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue has picked up again, possibly permitting reaching a comprehensive normalization agreement.
However, while disagreement remained regarding the specific time required to make further advances in reconciling Kosovo and Serbia, panel members generally agreed that no alternative to the EU-mediated dialogue and a comprehensive and legally binding agreement is available given that both countries seek to join the European Union.
The virtual discussion is part of the Aspen Berlin Policy Hub for think tanks from the Western Balkans, a project funded by the Open Society Foundations and the Federal Press Agency.
Please find below a policy paper from Naim Rashiti, Founder and Executive Director of the Balkans Policy Research Group (BPRG). The paper addresses in more detail the question of how the acceptance of the dialogue can be strengthened in both populations.
Kosovo Serbia Dialogue – Path to the Agreement