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Time is Ripe for Kosovo Compromise: Vucic

The Serbian president says his moderation could finish him, but is that just part of his cunning plan?

11 August 2017

Speaking on Serbia’s TV Pink Wednesday, President Aleksandar Vucic (pictured) said he would launch a nationwide debate next month on relations with Kosovo.

 

Vucic acknowledged the dangers inherent in his call for moderation: “I know, whichever compromise you make, Serbia will not forgive you, and I know what the personal and political consequences can be for those who take part,” Bloomberg quotes him as saying.

 

While many Serbs consider Kosovo a historical part of Serbia and refuse to recognize its independence, the pro-EU elites know that eventual union membership depends on defusing tensions with Kosovo. Vucic, a former hardline nationalist, recently pledged to solve the Kosovo conundrum, admitting in an op-ed for the pro-government daily Blic that Serbs have misunderstood Albanians throughout history.

 

He wrote that Serbia’s growing political and economical strength under his rule provide a strong negotiating position, Balkan Insight reported.

 

“If we create an axis of peace and stability along the north-south line in the western Balkans, between the two biggest people, Serbs and Albanians, we will have solved 80 percent of our political problems for the next 100 years,” he said on TV Pink.

 

As several commentators note, however, Vucic has cannily skirted the question of his own stance on the Kosovo issue.

 

Serbian foreign policy analyst Bosko Jaksic told Bloomberg that Vucic appears to be “seeking a dialogue without saying what his platform is.”

 

His initiative is a “great marketing move to feel the pulse of the nation and to challenge the opposition parties to come forward with proposals, if they have any,” Jaksic said.

 

Vucic’s position has support from influential quarters, experienced foreign policy hand David L. Phillips writes in the Huffington Post.

 

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic believes that “Times and international relations have changed,” and Vuk Draskovic, head of the Serbian Renewal Movement, has said that Serbia should “accept and recognize the Kosovo reality” as the basis of “a sustainable solution,” writes Phillips, who directs the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights.

 

 

  • One issue that needs to be addressed is the Serbian constitution’s provision that Kosovo must remain part of the country, Vucic said on TV Pink.

 

  • Vucic’s motives for broaching the subject of compromise with Kosovo remain hazy, but he may be preparing the Serbian recognition of Kosovo, allowing both countries to negotiate for EU entry at the same time, Phillips writes.

 

  • In a Blic article in late July, Dacic said he would bring up with Vucic the idea of a “possible permanent compromise solution” with Pristina involving “delimitation of what is Serb and what is Albanian,” according to B92.

 

  • Dacic later told Sputnik his “delimitation” proposal has caused “great nervousness,” but that may turn out to be a good thing, B92 writes today. "Maybe all this nervousness caused by my proposal is also an indication of the way we should go and how to come up with a solution that will make all sides dissatisfied. … Because only such a solution will at the same time provide a lasting compromise for the future.”

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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