WASHINGTON – The purpose of Summit in Berlin was to give up on the idea of a land swap and the only option left on the table is the recognition of Kosovo in the existing borders, says Professor at the University of Graz Florian Bieber in the interview with Voice of America.
“The only alternative to the land swap and the purpose of this Summit was to close the discussion on this matter, as well as France to accept to certain degree German attitude which is that there would be no solution if the borders have to change. It is not clear what would other solutions look like, but it has to contain existing borders. It is not enough – in the sense that it is not clear what is the essence of this agreement”, points out Bieber.
The purpose was not to open the dialogue because there were no conditions for it, he adds. There is no Commission, no mediator from the EU who will be capable to lead this dialogue.
“Federica Mogherini lost her credibility, her mandate finishes in a couple of months and there should come up with the new framework for the negotiations. This framework has not brought any results but only the idea of land swap”, says Bieber and notes that the purpose is to freeze a process until the new Commission and framework arrive, only then the dialogue could be possible.
Bieber thinks that the positions are very far away for both sides who do not show willingness for serious talks so the positions could become closer.
Speaking about the EU still being “a carrot” for Serbia, Bieber claims that “carrot” still exists and the best example that shows this is North Macedonia resolving the problem with Greece, adding that around 80% of citizens want to join EU which is still a great number.
“Carrot is only used if the elites want to join EU. This is the case of North Macedonia where the government wants it, but I doubt that governments in Serbia and Kosovo sincerely want the EU membership. Their leaders say they want it, but only because it is good to talk in that manner because it brings them the support from citizens and the West. This does not mean that they truly want it, because, their goals and the way they govern are not in line with the EU”, explains Bieber.
He points out that leaders in Serbia and Kosovo act, and in that sense, the EU needs to offer a clear carrot, not in a sense of date – because 2025 was always unrealistic, but in the way of sending clear words which are the problem, thus the region needs clear signals coming from the EU.
Weak opposition and politicians who do not have full legitimacy
Commenting on the anti-government protests taking place in Serbia, he underlines that in a normal democratic framework the opposition should be able to take over power, but this is not the case in Serbia. The reason for that, Bieber sees in the fact that president Aleksandar Vučić has systematically ruined the opposition, the space for civil ideas, media space and civil society space, which makes this space so small nowadays.
“And we have weak opposition and politicians who do not have a full legitimacy even with the citizens who are participating in the protests. Majority of them does not support the opposition leaders. There are also different ideas – from pro-Russian to pro-West, and to almost fascist and neoliberals. There is also hard to find a clear profile which offers something different from the ruling government”, says Bieber.
He thinks that Serbian opposition does not have the support coming abroad.
“They are trying, but they do not have a clear position, for example regarding NATO or EU integration which is why it is hard to get support from EU member states or Washington”, concludes Bieber for the Voice of America.