Today, Serbia and Kosovo stand at the brink of a catastrophe. It is urgent for European powers to act in time and in a way that can pre-empt it. And the EU must acknowledge that a dialogue based on the promise of EU integration cannot work without this promise being credible.
Op-ed: The next attack is bound to come (3 October 2023)
Deutsch: Der nächste Angriff kommt bestimmt
BCS: Sledeći napad će doći sigurno
ESI newsletter: Belfast, Kosovo and the end of peace (27 July 2023)
ESI report: The Hypnotist – Aleksandar Vucic, John Bolton and the return of the past (25 April 2019)
Politico: Redrawing Balkan borders would be a fatal mistake (28 August 2018)
Today, Serbia and Kosovo stand at the brink of a catastrophe. It is urgent for European powers to act in time and in a way that can pre-empt it.
The coming of violent conflict is rarely an unpredictable black swan. It is more often a "grey rhino":
"The grey rhino is a massive two-ton thing with its horn pointed at you, stomping the ground and getting ready to charge – and most importantly, giving you the chance to act."
On 6 July this year, Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic declared publicly that NATO and the UN had fourteen days to disarm Kosovo's police forces and to protect Kosovo Serbs from ongoing Albanian "pogroms and ethnic cleansing." Otherwise "someone else" would need to do this. These fourteen days have since passed.
It should not be difficult for international organisations to rebut these false, misleading and dangerous claims. But this is not enough.
The current EU-led dialogue process is broken. It is incapable of producing trust. It is unable to ensure that technical agreements made more than a decade ago are implemented. It is failing to produce even an implementation plan for a supposedly historic agreement reached early this year.
In reality, the most important dialogue to bring about progress in Kosovo has never been the one between Belgrade and Pristina, and this is unlikely to change soon. It has been two other dialogues that really mattered: the one between Brussels and Belgrade and the other between Brussels and Pristina.
And it is these dialogues that need to be revived now, urgently.