A proposal on Kosovo that Vucic must not refuse
If what Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced to the nation is true and refers to the joint proposal of Germany and France to solve the Kosovo problem, this is something Serbia should seriously think about. The non-paper that Vucic did not want to receive has now become an official proposal.
According to the Serbian President, Germany and France are offering Serbia fast-track admission to the European Union and substantial financial aid in return for Kosovo’s smooth accession to the UN and other international institutions. In addition to all this, Vucic said that with this offer, no one is asking Serbia to recognise Kosovo as an independent state.
This is more than a serious and realistic proposal in every sense. The most painful point for Serbia is precisely Kosovo and the recognition of independence. At this point in time, and probably in the future, there will be no willingness and no strength in Serbia for such a signature. With this proposal, if Vucic’s interpretation is correct, there will be no need for this signature, and this is the momentum that was awaited.
If the top of the Serbian Government had been clever, this proposal would have been accepted at the same moment as the starting point for the most serious negotiations with the international community to date. The willingness of Germany and France, which are the backbone of the EU, to make such a compromise should be used and perhaps reap some more concrete benefits for the citizens of Serbian nationality in Kosovo, as well as for the position and status of the centuries-old monasteries and churches. And, of course, finally, for the formation of the Association of Serb Municipalities.
Why is the proposal good?
Why is this proposal good? Perhaps it is mainly because it respects the reality, both in Kosovo and in Serbia. Kosovo has come a long way in terms of statehood, which Serbia will not recognise. With the exception of Russia and China, all the other great powers have recognised this reality. However, the behaviour of Russia and China so far has been limited to saying that the idea of admitting Kosovo to the UN cannot pass in the Security Council. The Serbian people in Kosovo are having none of it. There is no job or other form of systemic support. After all, the UN is no longer the organisation it used to be, especially after the war in Ukraine.
Serbia, on the other hand, is not ready to fully recognize the situation on the ground. And it does not go well with the Serbs. The influence of the Serbian state in Kosovo is decreasing, as is the number of Serbs living in Kosovo today. In order for the common world to visit Kosovo, they have to put stickers on traffic signs. Representatives of the authorities in Belgrade may not visit the holy Serbian land without Pristina’s approval. The opportunity to not have to recognize Kosovo should convince many that the moment has come for the story to slowly come to an end. Big countries have strength and power that Serbia cannot influence.
If they want to admit Kosovo to the UN, Serbia cannot do much there, even if the total number of countries that do not recognise Kosovo is greater than the number of countries that do. There again the big ones will come on the scene and change the outcome overnight. Therefore, Serbia cannot prevent it.
Joining the EU is no longer such a desirable carrot as it was until recently. Support for EU accession has never been lower in Serbia and much needs to be done in this regard. Serbia definitely has a place in the EU, but not as it is today. This must be a mutual relationship, full of respect on both sides and, most importantly, honesty. Without it, everything is meaningless. There is no majority in Serbia that would accept Kosovo’s entry into the UN in the name of EU membership.
Benefit for the people without recognition of Kosovo
Financial aid is perhaps a slightly different story. Serbian citizens still believe that China and Russia are Serbia’s biggest financial donors. This is one of the biggest absurdities in Serbia today. To the disbelief of all nationalists and right-wingers, Russia and China are almost absent from this list, and the EU holds the top spot convincingly. Not only for investments, credits and loans, but above all for grants. Adding to all this the investments and the number of companies from the West compared to the East, we come to a calculation that clearly shows where Serbia’s place is. The Chinese are investing heavily in Serbia, that is no secret, but there has been no Russian investment all these years. The only place where the Russians were involved was Serbia’s oil industry, and that was the beginning and the end of Russian investment.
Vucic has been boasting for years that Serbia is a leader in foreign investments and it is easy to guess what will happen to them if they reject this proposal as well.
So this proposal is more than excellent. You accept reality, you get some benefit for your people living in Kosovo, you get into the EU, you get huge financial aid and you do not have to recognise Kosovo.
If Serbia rejects this proposal, the isolation of Serbia from the international community and the formation of Greater Albania, which is being worked on extensively, can easily happen. Europe needs neither one nor the other. We all know from experience that the current proposal was always better than the next one. Also, we remember that the other side, in relation to the Serbian side, sometimes accepted unfavorable conditions only because it knew that Belgrade would not accept such a thing. It’s time to stop and think seriously and soberly.
Serbia will not get a better offer at the start. Those who hope that the Russians will cross the Danube and change the geostrategic and geopolitical structure of the world are more deluded than those who argue that Serbia has never been more present in Kosovo today. Serbia regaining Kosovo through war is so pointless that it is not worth wasting words.
It is up to Serbia and Vucic to try to fight for the best possible outcome in the negotiations, and this must be a sacred duty of today’s authorities in Belgrade. There is no backing down now. It is time to reach a compromise and thus guarantee the future of both Serbia and the Albanian people in Kosovo. This proposal offers that.
The views expressed in this text are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Al Jazeera./Al Jazeera