Is the EU using the war in Ukraine to push Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence?

The European Union (EU) seems to be using the Russian invasion of Ukraine to convince Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Although no one has said this clearly and openly, the reality is now in fact different, as mutual recognition, for the first time, was mentioned in the European Parliament (EP) report on Serbia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has used the “Kosovo argument” as an explanation for Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine. As he explained in late April, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic became independent by analogy with the International Court of Justice’s decision on Kosovo. That was the moment when Kosovo’s independence began to be mentioned more and more, and when it became clear to Serbian officials that nothing is the same as before.

“Our situation has changed for the worse after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statements, not because he wanted to harm Serbia, but because he used it to protect Russian interests,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had said at the time, adding that now “the whole West will ask Serbia to move quickly toward recognizing Kosovo’s independence, and then tell Putin that it is not the same.”

Thus, suddenly and unannounced, during the vote in the European Parliament, an amendment was included in the report on Kosovo, that encourages an agreement between official Belgrade and Pristina based on mutual recognition, even though the current situation does not support such an argument.

The dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which has long been at a standstill, testifies that this is not the case, that there are no more agreements and concrete progress, and that there are no high-level political meetings. For all this, it is questionable whether the EU is actually using the destructive maelstrom in Ukraine to resolve the Kosovo issue and its recognition as soon as possible.

Ever since Vladimir Putin referred to the case of Kosovo, the European Union started using it as an argument. First, it did so by “pushing” Pristina’s application for membership in the Council of Europe, then with the visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said that Serbia could not become an EU member without mutual recognition (between Serbia and Kosovo).

Although the EP’s document is non-binding, experts in European affairs pointed out that it is a way to bring the mutual recognition story deliberately to the European Parliament (EP), where the majority of MPs support it.

Other EU bodies are yet to give their opinion, as there are five member states that do not recognize Kosovo’s independence.

“Nothing is casual in diplomacy,” the director of the Centre for Regionalism, Aleksandar Popov, told the Blic daily. “With regard to Kosovo, the U.S. administration was decisive and felt that it should be resolved with recognition, while the EU was more flexible and pushed the story of a legally binding agreement on normalization of relations. However, the situation in Ukraine has accelerated everything, but I think this latest move has to do with the sanctions we have not imposed on Russia. The EU is giving Serbia a proverbial slap, and I don’t think it will stop,” Popov underlined.

(Blic, 15.06.2022)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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