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Who stands to gain from the Kosovo-Serbia deal? The EU

26 April 2013

Britain’s very own EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Cathy Ashton, has not had a terribly good press after a report from the European Parliament said her department had too many decision-making layers, is top heavy and is indecisive in response to crises. It didn’t help that she was looking for a four per cent increase in her department’s budget, amounting to £18 million for next year.

Which is why she will be doing everything possible to make the most of her one diplomatic triumph last weekend, a deal between Kosovo and Serbia. Implementation talks started yesterday.

Indeed the one undoubted gainer from the Kosovo-Serbia deal initialled by Hashim Thaci, Kosovo prime minister, and Serbia’s Ivica Dacic and brokered by Baroness Ashton is the EU. Or as the FT puts it, ‘the accord makes clear that the Eurozone crisis has not diminished the EU’s allure. Without the promise of getting on the road to membership, Serbia would never have engaged’. Actually that last bit is true, though I find, myself, that it’s a useful rule that if the FT is in favour of something, it’s probably right to take the opposite view.

The deal gives substantial autonomy to an association of Serb-majority areas in return for Serbia recognising that Kosovo has supreme legal authority over the whole of the country, without recognising Kosovo itself.

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The Serb association will have control over education, economic development, health and planning, but without tax-raising powers. And it will have its own judges, administering Kosovo law.

But by now, things have moved on from the triumphalism following the deal. Both Thaci and others concerned have had death threats from their own side, with the additional frisson on the Serbian side of angry demonstrations in northern Kosovo, in which leaders of the municipalities concerned called for their own assembly. (Shades of the Serb Republic in Bosnia there, which is meant to be part of a unitary state but actually runs its own show.) For what it’s worth, Serbs in the north are enraged at the prospect of having to carry official documents like drivers licences issued by the Kosovo government, not by Belgrade. Which tells you everything about the status quo.

I think myself there’s quite a lot not to like about Baroness Ashton’s deal. The problem is, as Ilir Deda of the KIPRED think-tank (and a friend of my Kosovo Albanian husband) put it, this could put the end to prospects for a multi-ethnic Kosovo.  There are perhaps 90,000 Serbs in Kosovo – actually that figure is disputed; there were more but many have left since the conflict in 1999 – and just over half of them live in the north, in the area including Mitrovica right next to Serbia. That northern bit is to most intents and purposes run by Serbia – public sector workers get their pay from Belgrade, not Prishtina.  That leaves tens of thousands of Serbs outside in scattered enclaves around Kosovo.

And the risk is that the autonomy given to Serb areas will be concentrated in the northern enclave, which will have control over its own police force, leaving the Serbian communities elsewhere marginalised – and they’re vulnerable enough already. The synod of the Serbian Orthodox church says that it looks like the abandonment of Serbs in Metohija, the area to the south and west of the country.

Then there’s the question of Albanians who were ethnically cleansed from the north, thousands of them. The chances of them returning home were always pretty slim; now they’re nil. This isn’t an agreement that makes for integration of ethnic groups; it makes for increased separatism and God knows, it was happening already.

Kosovo itself – or rather, Hashim Thaci – has ended up trading quite a lot in return for something a good deal short of what Kosovars actually want, a seat for Kosovo at the UN and membership of organisations like Interpol. Serbia is now on the fast track to EU accession, and, more importantly, substantial EU funds. It still has a veto over recognition of Kosovo at the UN – as the Serbian PM said on Monday, ‘We are not able to by ourselves block Kosovo’s path to the UN, but we can with the help of our friends Russia and China’. The Serbian north, which can work closely with Belgrade, has conceded that it will not oppose being showered with cash by the central government in Prishtina but it’s not at all clear that it won’t also continue to have funding from Serbia.

The grimmest scenario is that the Serbian north will become something like the Serb Republic in Bosnia, which I mentioned above, notionally part of Bosnia but actually running its own show. The sunniest scenario is that Serbia will do its bit to promote Serb participation in the Kosovo state, rather than use the agreement to promote partition on the ground. Either way, Kosovo will be billed as a triumph of EU diplomacy and useful ammunition for Lady Ashton’s bid for more EU funding.

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  • Lena North

    Having just read this
    “Then there’s the question of Albanians who were ethnically cleansed from the north, thousands of them. The chances of them returning home were always pretty slim; now they’re nil. This isn’t an agreement that makes for integration of ethnic groups; it makes for increased separatism and God knows, it was happening already.”

    I thought I’d misread it.. But no. The bias is unbelieable.. No mention of of the 100,000’s of Serbs, Roma, Bosniaks, Montenegrins, and the 100’s of Croats that have ethnically cleansed south of the Ibar river, a lot of them fled to Northern Kosovo.

    • dsafd asdfasdf

      It’s so ridiculous! The Albanians are “ethnically cleansed” but Serbs roma and gorani just “left”

  • Roger Hudson

    Having broken up Jugoslavia why do so many want to submerge themselves in the EU?

    …proklet bio izdajica svoje domovina..

    • Mike D

      Ha ha! True! Yugoslavia was the original EU! Basically same concept with one currency. Funny how Europe wanted that region dismantled only to start their own version. I guess if you can’t take over Europe through muscle, you can certainly try to rule it economically. A blitzkrieg of austerity measures!

  • Roger Hudson

    If the death threats against Thaci are carried out will they harvest his organs? The EU/ council of Europe seems to want to forget about organ theft murders.

  • an ex-tory voter

    Any gain for the EU is a loss for peace, democracy and humanity. Historians will view the EU as the cause of immense suffering for the various people and nations on the continent of Europe.

  • Henry Hill

    Given the majority of people in North Kosovo want to remain in Serbia, why couldn’t they just be allowed to do that? Pristina surely has no more right to compel them to be Kosovan than Belgrade can compel Kosovo to be Serbian.

    • Roger Hudson

      The Beograd Serbs seem to have been well bribed, they don’t seem to call it Kosovo Metohija any more, have they given up on Pec and Prizren?
      Albania has Some Catholics, some Orthodox and lots of Muslims, guess who make the most crime (drugs, guns and slave trafficking )? We want them as far from the EU as possible. Making Kosovo an Albanian backdoor is not a good idea.

  • dsafd asdfasdf

    Albanians gain the most. They got everything they wanted. Pristina appoints the leader of the serb police. Serbs have no autonomy on the police. It is totally controlled by pristina through a serb they select! Obviously a serb selected by ALbanians in pristina will not be allowed to do anything pro serb or they will be fired by their bosses in pristina. There is no special court for serbs either. The serbs are all under rule from the pristina court and have to do all pristina laws in serb areas. Serbs got no autonomy and no power and Belgrade didn’t get anything for itself or Kosovo serbs. There is just no autonomy for Kosovo serbs anywhere on any issue. ALbanians gained the most and they gained everything. Serbs agreed not to do anything that might obstruct its EU path! So that “path” word means anything. Albanians won all gained all.

    • Tom Tom

      Danzig again. The Prussian Areas of Poland after Versailles were cut off from their Church and the local Heads of the Protestant Church in Western Poland were appointed by Warsaw and Protestant Schools closed sidelining German language…….it looks like the same interwar mistakes all over again

  • nationalexistance

    Perhaps Mr Cameron’s friend,Mr Ian Taylor,can help? Mr Taylor is chief executive of Vitol,a company with some experience in this area.

  • Barakzai

    ‘ . . . brokered by Baroness Ashton . . . ‘

    She might regard herself as heir to Metternich or Bismarck in negotiating European territorial settlements, but I’m certain that Dacic and Thaci don’t. Apart from proposing the timing of coffee breaks during the face-to-face sessions, I wonder what practical assistance this second-rate, unelected Brownite quangocrat had to offer?

    The longer term benefits seem more advantageous to Belgrade and, given that the key mining complex, Trepca, lies in the Serb canton it’d be interesting to know just what economic guarantees the EU has promised to Pristina . . .

  • David Lindsay

    On the one hand, we are trying to remove Abu Qatada from this country. On the other, we are sheltering, aiding and abetting all manner of Islamist terrorists.

    For example, the black-shirted pimp and heroin-trafficker Hashim Thaçi, who is somehow also both a Wahhabi and a Maoist – he really is what the more hysterical Tea Party attendees imagined President Obama to have been.

    Or Akhmed Zakayev, whom this country currently harbours. From Chechnya. Hasn’t that been in the news recently?

    Or the late Abdulmalik Rigi and his still-living gang. Didn’t someone (in Canada, was it?) say something about “al-Qaeda in Iran”?

    Or Ejup Ganic. War crimes in the former Yugoslavia, eh?

    It is quite a list: Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya (polygamy legalised as the first act of the unelected government) and the Sixth Caliphate of Tunisia, with Syria and Lebanon to follow, with Iran next on the list after that, and with Chechnya and Xinjiang always bubbling away in the background.

    Doesn’t it make you proud?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Speaking of your hero Obama, laddie, yesterday he appeared in front of the largest abortion perpetrator on planet earth, and asked for God’s blessings on them and all their good works. This appearance and address was unprecedented, but not unexpected, given the character of the Left:

      “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.”

      It’s amusing that you, fancying yourself as some sort of “social conservative”, fawn approvingly over those who celebrate the slaughter of the unborn as a religious sacrament.

      But there’s no figuring out you hard leftist nutters, I suppose. That Gosnell guy is being prosecuted right now in Philadelphia for acting out exactly what you nutters want… ghoulish slaughter of the innocent.

      Perhaps you should forget the Balkans and anything that minor, laddie, and start worrying about human life, the lives of those who cannot defend themselves as you and your buddies seek their slaughter.

      • David Lindsay

        Perhaps you should forget the Balkans and anything that minor, laddie, and start worrying about human life

        You haven’t thought that one through, have you?

        Two pro-abortion nominees out of two in 2012. As always. Unless you count Sarah Palin, and I really do think that we are above that, then no pro-lifer has been on either ticket since Sargent Shriver in 1972.

        Only one of the 2012 nominees had ever legalised abortion at public expense, though. And only one derived an income from their performance. They were both the same person. That person was not Barack Obama.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Dodging and talking about somebody else again, eh laddie?

          Unfortunately, we’re here talking about you and the other pro-abortionists, who squeal with glee over the likes of the ghoulish Obama, as per your post.

          And it’s particularly poignant in your case, as you posture bizarrely as “social conservative”.

          So again, I’d recommend you the morally repugnant, who revel in the sub-culture of the gruesome death of innocents, and ask for God’s blessing on it, lay off your impotent rants about the Balkans.

  • HookesLaw

    Back in the real world, this makes it unlikely that North Kosovo will ever come into Serbia. If Serbia joins the EU then the EU will not wish border changes. No doubt this will be a key point in negotiations. Its a big step for Serbia.

    • dsafd asdfasdf

      Serbia has renounced the whole idea of a north Kosovo with any autonomy from Pristina. Serbs have no autonomy on anything and pristina has complete dictatorial power over police and court systems. Serbs got nothing in this deal and Albanians got everything. All because Serbia wants to be in the EU so Serbia gave in on every single issue. Including the UN because if its a part of Kosovo’s EU path serbia must say Kosovo must be in the UN.

      • HookesLaw

        There is autonomy for the north, lets see how it pans out. as for the rest – its just has I said, Serbia has other fish to fry now.

        • dsafd asdfasdf

          There is no autonomy in the north. There are local powers every single municipality has but no autonomy for the Serb north.

  • Russell

    “her department had too many decision-making layers, is top heavy and is indecisive in response to crises” plus a desire to get even more money out of taxpayers!!!!!!!

    Now which recent Labour government does that remind you of? Every Quango and every public service labour ran had too many overpaid decision makers (none of whom would accept responsibility for their actions/decisions), plus a hunger for more and more taxpayers and borrowed money.

    • DWWolds

      And surely the same can be said for more or less every department in the EU.

      • Russell

        Absolutely! The report about Ashton sums up the attitude of EU bureaucrats to the use of our money, exactly the same as labour, and sadly many Conservative MP’s and Ministers.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Either way, Kosovo will be billed as a triumph of EU diplomacy and useful ammunition for Lady Ashton’s bid for more EU funding.

    Anything so that the corrupt parasites in Brussels can gorge themselves on even more Western European Taxpayers money. Ashton is typical of the the obese incompetent dysfunctional bureaucrats of the Labour Party from whence she originates

    • telemachus

      Focus on the good
      This deal is exactly why we must remain fully engaged with Europe
      We have a great deal of ingrained expertise to offer to the whole of Eatern Europe and the Balkans in particular
      Ask Paddy Ashdown

  • Tom Tom

    This is like Danzig or Moravia after Versailles…….why does the Empire need Serbia or Croatia ?

    • Mike D

      The ‘Empire’ doesn’t need Serbia or Croatia. They simply want to control them and exploit all of their natural resources. The province of Kosovo is a prime example. It has limitless resourcess for mining. Previous administrations from the US, Germany and Britain all have their hands in the pot trying to grab whichever public company they can while establishing new business under favourable terms. Those favourable terms seem to always go hand in hand with Kosovo’s independence. Push for our recognition and we will give you land to dig or public companies to own for almost no cost. You don’t hear about them saying anything about the 250,000+ Serbs who were living there prior to the war. Now, less than 90,000 or so. That’s apparently not in the business plans.

    • Peter Jovicic Sonda

      Its their location they need. Croatia is almost entirely on the sea coast. Serbia’s Northern half is second or third largest corn producer in Europe. That will come in real handy as people need more food. During wars of 1990s, even under heavy sanctions, Serbia had no problems producing more than enough food.

      • Roger Hudson

        Croatia , BiH and Serbia can be self-sufficient in food and energy but EU countries want to ‘open them up’ to ‘western’ products.
        My advice is to buy and eat ‘domaci’.

  • 1389AD
    • greggf

      Seems like it!
      Of course that depends on which side is seen as the Devil.
      Serbia gets round its hitherto obstacles to accession to the EU for a bit of paper about Kosovo.
      Can muslims play chess?

      • 1389AD

        The EU is clearly the devil. Serbia trades away what little is left of its sovereignty to get an illusory promise of EU acceptance talks. There will be more demands in the future, and more, and more. And even if Serbia gets admitted, it will be a disaster for Serbia. The EU is going bust and Serbia does not need to be struggling to get on to a sinking ship.

        • greggf

          Serbia should outlast the EU 1389, and with luck it’s going to get its Danegeld too.

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