LONDON – Compared to previous Serbia-Kosovo negotiation attempts (1999 and 2007), the current process has seen significantly more success. However, time for reaching a full normalisation agreement is running out, writes Bekim Çollaku, President Hashim Thaçi’s Chief of Staff and former Minister for European Integration of Kosovo, for EURACTIV.
“After six years, Kosovo and Serbia are entering the final phase in the EU-facilitated dialogue. The two parties have come a long way since the dialogue began, and the end is starting to feel near. Direct channels of communication are open, limiting unnecessary escalation of tensions – something that would have been unimaginable before 2011 – and the prospect of full recognition grows day by day”, claims Çollaku.
He explains this success by the willingness of EU to solve smaller issues, such as free movement of Kosovo’s citizens, before tackling bigger ones. In this context, he mentions recent decisions of European Commission and European Parliament’s LIBE Committee to support visa liberalization for Kosovo.
“And now that we are reaching the final hurdles of this dialogue, it is vital we all keep our efforts focused, for it is clear that the current limbo serves the interests of no one – not the citizens of Kosovo, or of Serbia, or, indeed, of our wider allies in the European Union”, Çollaku emphasises.
He reminds that the mandate of current Commission will expire next autumn, while EU’s focus will soon inevitably shift to the forthcoming European Parliament elections.
Therefore, he claims, the time for action is now: “With today’s global politics rife with uncertainty, we cannot know if the next EU Commission will have the time, or energy, to remain as committed to completing the final stages of this agreement. Now is the time for all those involved to drive this to the end”.
A successful agreement will not only be a benefit for the already mentioned groups, Çollaku concludes; it will also confirm EU’s rising importance as a global actor.