"Serbia must recognize Kosovo; Russia won't help it"
"Serbia must recognize Kosovo's independence in order to achieve peace in the region," according to the Human Rights Institute of the US University of Columbia.Source: Beta
A report dedicated to "the implementation of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue," authored by Director of the Peace Building and Rights Program David Phillips, proposes to "define the topics of negotiations and set a deadline of no more than two years."
It also proposes "a more effective mediation of the international community, including a stronger role of the United States and the engagement of prominent international negotiators."
Beta is reporting this on Friday, citing Phillips' statement for Voice of America's Albanian language service. According to this, the report proposes "a scenario where everyone wins" - where "the recognition of Kosovo's independence would lead to the normalization of all bilateral issues and integration of both Serbia and Kosovo into Euro-Atlantic institutions."
"If Serbia wants to join the EU, chapter 35 is crystal clear, Belgrade will not make progress towards EU membership until it recognizes Kosovo, which is the basis for normalization. Kosovo and Serbia should negotiate with Brussels on EU membership and the two countries should enter the EU together, at the same time. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic urged the Serbs to face the reality and deal with the Kosovo situation. Of course, it is difficult to negotiate about Serbia's recognition of Kosovo, but this must happen, the only way forward is for Serbia to recognize Kosovo, this is key to progress," said Phillips.
The report states that the Kosovo government should take "a comprehensive approach to the integration of Kosovo Serbs and ensure that their rights are fully protected and promoted."
"However, above all, the international community must do more. The EU has been a leading player in the mediation, and we recommend a stronger role for the United States. It is important that Washington be fully involved and that international mediators work on the solution," he added.
Phillips also suggested to change the format of the dialogue, "clearly define the topics of negotiation and set a deadline of up to two years, as well as engage reputable international negotiators."
"We propose a deadline of 18 months, with the possibility of extending that deadline for another six months, but no more than that. The EU should appoint a special envoy for mediation. Federica Mogherini can still play a ceremonial role, but an experienced negotiator is needed to take on the lead role. We recommend Wolfgang Shauble to be that person, and we also recommend that the US appoint a special envoy for the dialogue, and we believe that Condoleezza Rice, who has experience in the Balkans and is very respected - can work effectively with the Shauble team to finalize these negotiations," Phillips said.
He assessed that "integration into Europe would be a clear incentive for both Serbia and Kosovo to engage in the dialogue implementation" - and when asked what the incentive the EU and the United States would have to step up their engagement - Phillips said that "Russia has currently established a new front line in the Cold War with the West and it is in the Western Balkans."
"According to some allegations, it has established an intelligence base in Nis, and is transferring sophisticated weapons to Serbia.The US wants to strengthen its partnership with the countries of the Western Balkans, including Kosovo, as well as with Serbia. If the United States has strategic interests in that part of the world, it can exert its influence through a stronger role in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. Only with US involvement, this process will move forward," he added.
According to him, "Russia is not interested in the Serb people but is undermining the interests of the West in the Balkans."
"Vladimir Putin talks about the Slavic unity, the Orthodox (Christian) unity, but in essence, Russia is not interested in the Serb people at all. It merely manipulates this issue in order to undermine the Western influence and try to limit the role of NATO in the Western Balkans," he said, and added: "The citizens of Serbia should understand that their future lies with Europe and the West."
"They can move forward with Euro-Atlantic aspirations if they resolve the disagreements with Kosovo. Russia will not be there to help Serbia, it only manipulates the Serbs, citizens need to understand this fact and move closer to the West," Phillips said.