BELGRADE – Border change as a solution of the problem between Belgrade and Pristina is unrealistic and undesirable, concluded professor at the University of Graz Florian Bieber and professor at the University of the Peloponnese Nikolaos Tzifakis, members of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG).
During a conference “Global actors in the Western Balkans”, organized by BiEPAG and European Western Balkans portal, with support of European Fund for the Balkans, Bieber and Tzifakis emphasised that the resolution to the problem of Kosovo lies in an agreement that would guarantee much more rights to the Serbs, as well as protection of their identity, monuments and religious sites and European perspective to Belgrade and Pristina.
Speaking to the journalists gathered at the conference, Tzifakis told that a border change or demarcation would create new problems not only in Kosovo, but in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.
According to him, although he is not in a position to dictate anything to anybody, it would be ideal that Kosovo Serbs across the whole territory, not only in the North, are guaranteed maximal protection. Tzifakis underlined that it would be the worst solution for Kosovo to remain a “grey zone”.
Bieber thinks that the problems in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina have arisen because of disagreements between the solution of the relations between Serbia and Kosovo, among which is the idea about demarcation, but also the disagreement between great powers about the issue.
“The question is whether the EU is capable of returning the process on its path. EU has lost control over the process. A new approach is needed, as well as the new idea on how to lead a dialogue until the end, because the current approach has failed”, said Bieber.
In his opinion, the step-by-step process of dialogue every few months is unsuccessful.
“Meeting in Brussels every few months do not lead to a result. A serious conference and a serious approach is needed, so that other powers are included in it. It is impossible to solve the problem just from the position of the EC, it is necessary to include EU members as well”, said Bieber.
It has already been apparent that the negotiations in the region are only successful if there is a cooperation between the EU and the US.
“It is hard to reach a result just with the help of EU. Members of the Union, as well as United States, informally, must be involved”, said Bieber.
According to him, the participation of Americans is needed, but in some informal capacity, because if it was formal, some other centres of power, such as Moscow, could also demand to participate.
“I do not think Russia would be constructive in that process”, emphasised Bieber.
In his opinion, the only solution is strengthening the European perspective. EU is currently not ready for that, but in the medium or long term it will be, he said. That does not mean that, if Kosovo and Serbia would agree today, that the membership would immediately follow, because there are other problems, such as the rule of law and democracy, said Bieber.
He added that a package would mean the respect for borders between Serbia and Kosovo, as well as good neighbourly relations.
“Change of borders is not a realistic, nor a desirable solution, not only for Kosovo. But neither is the frozen conflict, because it would raise tensions, and we are reading about a new war every day, which is very unhealthy for a society”, he said.
Bieber added that a clear European perspective should not imply an unconditioned accession, because it is necessary to fulfill all the conditions in the area of democracy and the rule of law.
“That package must include the recognition of border between Serbia and Kosovo, as well as good neighbourly relations, which are sometimes left aside”, said Bieber.