What is the solution for Kosovo?

Reduce tension and immediately initiate concrete measures for de-escalation. Initiate the re-establishment of positive conditions of livability and mobility, civil and democratic possibility, guaranteeing rights and freedom of movement, withdrawing Albanian Kosovar special forces from the North, and reducing the presence of KFOR NATO soldiers. Immediately opening spaces for dialogue and resuming, with renewed impetus, the political-diplomatic path, starting with the effective implementation of what has already been agreed and agreed upon so far in the context of the dialogue between Belgrade and Prishtina mediated by the European Union. After a week of mobilization, demonstrations, and protests by Kosovo Serbs against what has been called by many a veritable “takeover” of the administrations of municipalities in northern Kosovo, where “mayors” pronounced by Kosovo Albanian authorities and with almost no legitimacy in the popular vote have been installed, as a consequence of the complete boycott of the April 23 local elections by the Kosovo Serb community, the prospect of overcoming the crisis and transcending the spiral of tension becomes increasingly urgent. [Overcoming the crisis] can, in the immediate term, reduce the level of tension itself, and, in the shortest possible time, redefine the possibility of a just and peaceful solution for the long-standing, still unresolved Kosovo issue. This solution would be in line with international justice and based on the UN Charter and Security Council resolutions.

After the French President, Emmanuel Macron, the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the EU’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, have, albeit belatedly, reopened the option of holding new elections in the four northern Kosovo municipalities, a document (the authenticity of which, in any case, has not been confirmed at the time of this writing) appeared in the Press. This document, with the promising title “De-escalation in four northern municipalities – a step-by-step scenario” has the character of a kind of road map for overcoming the current tense situation in the region. This tension moreover, has also led to more significant clashes, with KFOR soldiers even deploying grenades (thirty flash-bang grenades) and tear gas against protesters. This road map provides, in fact, eight points.

Serbia and Kosovo confirm their commitment to the implementation of the Basic Agreement with specific reference to Articles 1, 3, 7, and 9. Kosovo withdraws its special forces and, at the same time, Serbia returns its armed forces to normal alert level (in terms of combat readiness). Ordinary police, assisted by the European rule of law mission, EULEX, and the NATO military mission, KFOR, assume responsibility for security. Protests are withdrawn, ordinary life is restored, public functions and services resume smoothly, civil servants are granted access to municipal offices in the four northern municipalities, and “mayors” step down in mid-July 2023, thus allowing new municipal elections to be held. These new elections are to be held by late August or early September 2023.

In particular, items 3, 4, 5, and 6, are to be realized concurrently with actual progress in establishing the framework of self-government for Kosovo Serbs, in line with Article 7 of the Basic Agreement, as well as with the implementation of Article 1 of the same Agreement as measures undertaken in good faith. Finally, Articles 1, 2, 3, 7, and 9 of the same Basic Agreement are expected to be effectively implemented by mid-November 2023. These are the points of the Agreement on which a consensus was reached by the parties in the EU-mediated dialogue. Serbia and Kosovo will thus have to develop normal and good neighborly relations; mutually recognize each other’s documents and symbols, including passports, diplomas, license plates, and customs stamps; resolve any disputes exclusively by peaceful means, refraining from the threat or use of force, and, in any case, in accordance with the UN Charter; “ensure an adequate level of self-government for the Serb community in Kosovo and the ability to provide services in specific areas, including the possibility of financial support from Serbia and a direct channel of communication for the Serb community with the government of Kosovo.”

Also included is a “commitment by the EU and other donors to launch a special package of investment and financial support for joint projects in development, connectivity, ecological transition, and other key areas.” A crucial topic remains: that of the establishment of the Kosovo Serb Community of Municipalities, already agreed upon and approved in the previous agreements of 2013 and 2015 and now rejected by the Kosovo authorities because it is “incompatible with the Constitution of Kosovo.” As is well known, as of today, Kosovo is not a state recognized as such by the international community: there are fewer than ninety states with which Kosovo has diplomatic relations, and about one hundred that to date have recognized Kosovo’s independence. It is therefore necessary, more than ever, to abandon coercions, delays in the implementation of already agreed measures, and approaches based on the “double standard,” still all too present especially among Western chancelleries; and to immediately aim for a perspective of inclusion, peace, rights and social justice, of a Kosovo “of all and for all.”

Gianmarco Pisa