Barely a month after it was hailed as a breakthrough second within the strained relationship between Kosovo and Serbia, the EU-brokered agreement between the 2 seems to have run into hassle.
Kosovo has accused Serbia of violating the agreement by voting in opposition to its Council of Europe membership. According to the deal and its implementation mechanism authorised on 18 March, Serbia is not going to impede Kosovo’s entry into international organisations.
Kreshnik Ahmeti, Kosovo’s deputy international minister, has referred to as on the EU to condemn Serbia’s actions on Tuesday, for the reason that union is meant to ensure compliance with the agreement.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who oversees his nation’s function within the dialogue, mentioned the implementation of the agreement would start as quickly as Kosovo met its obligations.
“There is no game around this. You will fulfill [your side of the deal] and once you do that, then we will fulfill our side,” Vučić mentioned in an announcement final week.
In order to adjust to the agreement, Serbia insists that the Association of Serb Municipalities needs to be created first. The ASM can be a physique devoted solely to serving the ethnic Serb inhabitants in Kosovo.
A key provision of the agreement states “Serbia is not going to object to Kosovo’s membership in any international organisation”. However, the truth that neither get together has formally signed the agreement casts a cloud over its phrases and the extent to which it’s binding on either side.
Following months of negotiations relating to its content material, and in opposition to the backdrop of elevated ethnic and political tensions in Kosovo that culminated in barricades, shootings, and different incidents within the Serb majority areas of the nation, the EU supplied to behave because the guarantor of the deal.
Both sides made particular person verbal commitments to the agreement — however didn’t signal it — and the agreement was additionally fed into the EU-negotiating packages for the 2 nations.
Despite that, it’s not shocking that Serbia opposed Kosovo’s membership within the Council of Europe since Belgrade adamantly refuses to recognise Kosovo’s independence and considers it half of its personal territory.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, additionally urged for the “rapid implementation” of the “historic, legally binding normalisation agreement” throughout a gathering with Kosovo officers in New York City.
The EU is answerable for monitoring either side’ compliance with the agreement, nevertheless it can’t intervene with the work of different organisations.
Council of Europe is a very unbiased organisation from EU establishments and capabilities as a watchdog for human rights. It’s best-known physique is the European Court of Human Rights.
Peter Stano, the lead spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, mentioned that whereas it acknowledges Serbia’s vote, it can’t power CoE members to vote a sure means.
“We take note of this vote, of course it is for the member states of the Council of Europe to decide how they see fit,” Stano mentioned in Brussels.
This deadlock highlights the weak point of the EU’s place in defending the agreement. The EU is free to chastise Kosovo and Serbia respectively, however can’t impose a sure behaviour on a physique it doesn’t management.
“We are fully aware of the political sensitivities and complexities related to the implementation process,” Stano continued.
He highlighted that the EU expects “all articles of the agreement are to be implemented swiftly, rapidly, in good faith and independently of each other.”