European Western Balkans

Bieber: Serbian government can live quite well with the status quo on the issue of Kosovo and EU integration

Florian Bieber; Photo: EWB

BELGRADE – Currently, there are not many incentives for resolving the Kosovo issue and it should be expected in the near future, assessed Florian Bieber, Professor of Southeast European History and Politics and Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz and BiEPAG member in the new episode of the EWB SCREENING.

He assessed that the state of democracy is the biggest obstacle on Serbia’s path to the EU, but that the message is not communicated clearly enough to the citizens, while there is no significant support in the EU for ideas about border changes that have appeared in recent months.

Speaking about dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Bieber said that no agreement will be reached in the near future because there is no space for compromise or external incentives.

“I think that the dialogue will probably not bring any results in the near future because the position of the parties remains very distant. The ability of the EU or the United States to offer incentives to either side to take a decisive step does not seem to exist”, he said.

Bieber added that he did not see how a comprehensive agreement could be reached in the current political constellation.

“In recent years, we have not seen any signal from the President of Serbia that he is interested in a compromise that would lead to something that everyone agrees with and that must happen, and that is de facto recognition of Kosovo. Also, on the part of the EU, to offer enough to both sides to accept such an agreement, and on the part of Kosovo to also define their positions”, Bieber said.

According to Bieber, the EU has nothing to offer Serbia, because Serbian can live “quite well with the status quo”. 

He assessed that, even if Serbia progressed in relation to all other chapters and closes them if the current state of democracy lasts, he could not imagine that EU member states or the European Parliament will give the green light for Serbia’s membership.

Commenting on recent ideas on changing borders, Bieber said that this idea is always a temptation for those from the international community who do not really know the region well, but say “isn’t this an easy way to solve all these problems, why don’t we give them what they want”.

“Of course, it ignores the fact that there are many there are many who do not want it and many who would risk a huge danger with all that, but it is attractive for the uninitiated to give in to such demands”, Bieber said.

However, he emphasized that there is currently no support for these ideas and that the key actors shaping the EU’s policy for the region, be it Germany, Italy, Austria or others, have rejected them.

“So I don’t think there’s a real chance that any significant part of the EU government will support such radical ideas, and those who are uninterested, any EU countries don’t care so much about the Balkans, they would certainly prefer the status quo to any such risky venture”, Bieber told. 

He concluded that, although non-papers are wrong, at least the most notorious ones, and the solutions they offer, they have rightly determined that there is a problem with the status quo. 

“Basically, the problem can not be solved by changing the borders, but by redirecting to European integration by the countries and governments of the region, but also the EU itself… If that does not happen, this perspective will be too far away to really have real dynamics, and then we will see that the status quo continues, which is detrimental to the region, and ultimately to the EU”, Bieber concluded.

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