The two main obstacles toward a Kosovo-Serbia deal have been US envoy Richard Grenell’s work, and the EU’s lack of a strong voice in leading the dialogue, according to Bodo Weber, Senior Associate at the Democratization Policy Council from Berlin.
Speaking to the Kosovo-based Koha newspaper, Weber said that the recent joint statement by French and German foreign ministers should not be understood as a call to resume negotiations immediately but as their determination to lead the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.
“The article is first and foremost a strong recommendation from Berlin and Paris to take the lead in dialogue, and to emphasize that dialogue in the past has been, and remains, EU-led. Second, the most important sentence for me is the insistence that ‘there are no shortcuts and no quick fixes,’” Weber told Koha.
The two ministers acknowledged the many open questions that must be solved, and added that the EU-led dialogue requires well-structured, in-depth negotiations, and an honest broker in the EU.
According to Weber, France and Germany are pushing back any possible attempt for a quick deal in August or September, before the November presidential elections in the US.
The time for the restart of the dialogue will depend on Kosovo’s Constitutional Court decision on the formation of a new government, and the June parliamentary elections in Serbia, Weber said. In any case, negotiations cannot start before July, most realistically in August.
Weber maintains that obstacles that may affect the restart of the dialogue are US envoy Richard Grenell’s work, “which undermines the EU’s leading role in the negotiations and creates maneuvering space for political elites in Kosovo pursuing internal political goals”, and the confusion produced by the EU in failing until recently to express strong determination to lead the negotiations.
However, he argues that the EU is working to end Serbia’s hostile approach toward Kosovo’s statehood.