“Belgrade cannot control political will of northern Kosovo"

The referendum in northern Kosovo seriously jeopardized Serbia’s state policy. Aside from the fact that it questions the state’s legitimacy to continue the dialogue with Priština on its own, without representatives of the Serb community in the north, it challenges the state policy’s general legitimacy to correctly and successfully run the negotiations with the international community and Priština’s representatives.

“The referendum shows that all previous negotiations have aggravated and jeopardized the Serb community’s position in the north, that Belgrade has lost its citizens’ trust and that it should seriously reconsider its policy and its results,” Washington-based TSM Global Consultants political analyst Obrad Kesić told Jelena Tasić of the Belgrade-based daily Danas in an interview.

What are the realistic internal and international effects of the referendum?

“The referendum will not fundamentally or at this point change the current situation regarding Kosovo’s status, or the way that some EU member states are using it to politically condition Serbia’s European integrations. For the Serb community in northern Kosovo and Metohija this referendum affirms their determination to reject a violent assimilation under the authority of the state institutions from Priština. It also expands their civil disobedience movement and it directs it not only against Priština and EULEX, but against the authorities in Belgrade as well. For Belgrade, this is a confirmation that it cannot control the political will of the citizens in northern Kosovo and Metohija, which is not bad in the context of political conditions that Germany and other EU member states are imposing on Serbia”.

Is there a “formula” that could help Belgrade meet the demands of the west, and fulfil promises to the Serbs in Kosovo that it will not shut down the Serbian institutions in the province in the election year?

“The Serbian community in northern Kosovo and Metohija is completely right when it shows distrust toward the Priština and Belgrade authorities and the international community. Everybody has been lying to them since the beginning of the negotiating process. Priština and most of EU member states would see the elections that Serbia would organize in Kosovo and Metohija as a provocation, bearing in mind the key German political conditions – abolition of the 'parallel' institutions in northern Kosovo, primarily the judiciary and the security agency”.

How do you see the further course of the (Kosovo) dialogue?

“After the referendum in northern Kosovo and Metohija, Belgrade is a step away from elections. Until the upcoming parliamentary elections in Serbia the dialogue with Priština will be more symbolical than have essential results. Even though I am always in favor of talks, I think that the process under the EU auspices has been wrong from the very beginning and without great perspectives that it could solve the key open issues that separate positions both of Belgrade and Priština, and Belgrade and Brussels. By accepting the EU, under remote control from Washington and London, to mediate in the negotiations, Serbia could not have expected that its positions and interests would be seriously taken into account. It has been clear from the beginning that the negotiations were becoming an additional factor in conditioning Serbia over its EU candidate status bid. Now, it is only in the position to make concessions”.

How is the position of northern Kosovo going to be solved in the current circumstances when the process of ending the supervised independence (of Kosovo) has started?

“The international community does not have a clear solution for northern Kosovo and Metohija and there is no agreement between the U.S. and the EU, nor in the EU itself, regarding possible solutions. For that reason everything came back to the basic consensus that the Ahtisaari plan is, after all, the best solution. Some EU member states think that it should be expanded with wider guarantees for the Serbs in northern Kosovo and Metohija, but the fact that the authorities in Priština, the international community and especially EULEX have not shown good will in the past four years to implement the Ahtisaari plan does not go in favor of it. Still, the biggest problem is the fact that Belgrade does not have clearly articulated positions on things it proposes as solutions to all open issues in Kosovo. The Belgrade- Priština dialogue is largely nontransparent, insincere, without full legitimacy, and the agreements can hardly be implemented. The Serbian president’s four points are the latest, poorly defined goals of the Serbian policy. They have been presented without a serious debate and consensus at least among the largest ruling and opposition parties, which allows us to conclude that they represent some kind of Belgrade’s temporary position. Belgrade could could come out with new stances, either because of increased pressure from the international community or due to changes after the elections”.