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European Western Balkans
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The disagreement about the sequence: What was proposed by Kurti and what by the EU?

Josep Borrell and Albin Kurti in Brussels, September 2023; Photo: X / @JosepBorrellF

BRUSSELS – During yesterday’s Belgrade-Pristina meeting in Brussels, Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti presented his proposal for the sequencing implementation plan of the agreement and the annex reached in Brussels and Ohrid earlier this year, which was not accepted. The EU had presented its own implementation plan to the sides earlier in the summer, but this plan was not accepted by Kurti yesterday, Radio Free Europe reports. The two proposal differ in the sequence of steps to implement what was agreed.

The proposal by Albin Kurti, which he posted on his X (formerly Twitter) account and the proposal published by Radio Free Europe have the same wording and differ in the sequence of implementation. In the proposal of the European Union, the self-management institutions for Kosovo Serbs would be implemented in the first five steps. In Kosovo’s proposal, on the other hand, the implementation of this aspect would be finalized in 11 steps; in the meantime, status-related issues would have to be resolved.

According to Radio Free Europe, the proposal of the European Union was presented to the sides in June. In his press remarks following yesterday’s meeting, High Representative of the Union Josep Borrell stated that President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić came with his own proposal, but ultimately accepted the European Union’s proposal. Kurti, on the other hand, “was not ready to move forward”.

Kurti’s proposal begins with the issues of the status of Kosovo’s statehood, including the suspension of the use of asterisk and UNMIK representation, while the EU proposes this as the second step; in the first step, negotiations on the statute of the instruments of self-management for Kosovo Serbs (known so far as the Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities) should be launched. In Kurti’s proposal, however, launching of the negotiations on the statute is only the third step in the sequence, not the first one as in the EU’s proposal.

Following the suspension of asterisk and UNMIK and obligation of the both parties to conduct their relations on the basis of the UN Charter, the second step in the proposal of the Prime Minister of Kosovo is the recognition of respective documents and national symbols. Only then, in the third steps, negotiations on the statute for the Serb community should be launched.

On the other hand, in the proposal of the European Union, published by Radio Free Europe, recognition of symbols and documents is the seventh step of the process, by which time all steps regarding the establishment of the instrument of self-management of Kosovo Serbs would have been implemented.

If the EU’s plan was adopted, the status-related issues implemented before the establishment of the instrument of self-management for Kosovo Serbs would be the already mentioned international representation of Kosovo (asterisk and UNMIK) and refraining of both sides from the threats of violence and interference in internal affairs.

If, on the other hand, proposal put forward by Kosovo was implemented, in addition to these two sets of issues, a series of status-related issues would be implemented before the conclusion of the establishment of the self-governing institutions for Kosovo Serbs. These include: recognition of documents and national symbols, substantial steps for Kosovo’s membership in the EU, Council of Europe and NATO Partnership for Peace and remaining recognitions, together with Serbia’s cessation of objections to Kosovo’s membership in international organisations, as well as dismantling of “illegal structures financed by Serbia which operate on the territory of Kosovo”.

According to Radio Free Europe, all of these steps are also included in the EU’s proposal, but are planned after the establishment of instruments for self-governance for Kosovo Serbs.

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