Last week, Washington managed to reach a probably decisive success on the issue of the final Serbian-Kosovo settlement. The Trump’s administration persistence and ambition to close the protracted conflict stories will inevitably lead the American diplomacy to the Dniester’s banks.
Mediated by Washington, Serbian-Kosovo talks were held in the United States on September 3-4. Following the meeting, was signed an agreement essentially bringing down to relations normalization between Serbs and Kosovars. It also includes a number of agreements: on road and rail links, mutual diplomas recognition, energy supplies diversification and Kosovo’s participation in the Mini-Schengen.
Pristina’s readiness to refuse for a year filing applications for membership in international organizations deserves particular attention. Along with, Belgrade agreed in response to set a one-year moratorium on the foreign policy campaign aimed at withdrawing Kosovo’s independence recognition. In addition, Serbia agreed to open an office of the Chamber of Commerce in Jerusalem this September and its embassy to Jerusalem by July 1, 2021.
As many experts expected, the White House has once again demonstrated the strength and significant potential of the American diplomacy. In this regard, the agreement reached can be safely recorded as an asset to Donald Trump personally and his entourage. Meanwhile, for all the laconicism of the front ornament of the agreement, the reverse side conceals much more interesting (for specialists) complex ties and connections in the mechanism of the Serbian-Kosovo settlement.
Realizing all the existing difficulties, the administration of the American president, apparently, has gone along the path of a phased solution of this complex foreign policy problem. It is obvious that the situation was not deliberately bent across the knee, aiming not to get a painful international scandal on the eve of the elections, but a much-needed tactical advantage over competitors. Thus, the final issue closure, most likely, will take place no earlier than the next presidential term, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office chair. By the way, the main Democratic candidate Joe Biden supported the agreement reached, stressing that Kosovo should become an independent state in any case.
The Serbian leadership’s attempts to also present the agreement as an achievement look less convincing, primarily for the Serbian audience. First of all, attention is drawn to the intention of Belgrade to suspend the campaign aimed at withdrawing the Kosovo’s recognition. There is every reason to believe that it will give a second wind to the process of expanding the list of countries that have recognized Kosovo, thus the Serbian authorities in this regard will only have to silently contemplate. And if within the next year the number of those who have recognized it reaches the required number, Kosovo can acquire UN membership by 2/3 of the General Assembly members voting.
In addition, the Serbian President Vucic’s bravura statements that he managed to exclude the clause on the mutual recognition of Serbia and Kosovo from the draft document turned into an embarrassment as a result. The readiness of Pristina and especially Belgrade, expressed in the agreement, to open an embassy in Jerusalem next year, led to the fact that on the same day Israel announced establishing diplomatic relations with Kosovo. Moreover, it was stressed that Kosovo was the first Muslim-majority state to open an embassy in the holy city. According to some experts, unblocking the situation with the mutual recognition of Israel and Kosovo could significantly strengthen the position of Pristina in negotiations with other capitals, given the support of the influential Jewish lobby.
This incident demonstrates once again how important is prudence while negotiating with experienced external partners and how complex the architecture of international processes is, when solving a regional conflict on the European continent is in close contact with other territorial disputes and with the interests of the quite distant influential Middle Eastern shores players.
The European Union, it seems, will try to keep the pace the American administration set since negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina will continue today in Brussels. Despite the observed competition between the US and the EU in the Serbian-Kosovo settlement, the next meeting, judging by the composition of the participants, will be held in the format of a collective efforts conjunction.
A practical example of relations settlement between Belgrade and Pristina (no matter how it ends) for all its specificity cannot but arouse interest among politicians and experts in both Chisinau and Kiev. Over the past months, one could be convinced that no matter how complex and confusing the problem was initially, American diplomacy has the necessary tools to convince the parties moving from extreme positions and reaching the necessary compromise. A compromise that opens up completely different perspectives.
The Trump administration’s persistence and ambition in showing its intention to close a number of protracted conflict stories will inevitably lead the American diplomacy to the banks of the Dniester where due to the current situation’s peculiarities, achievement results can be expected even faster. More than that, over the past year, Washington has been actively building up its influence in Moldova, establishing intensive contacts with the Chisinau and Tiraspol leaderships, and continuing to hide the Former Master of Moldova trump card in its pocket. However, the likelihood of deep Washington’s involvement into the Transdniestrian dossier will largely depend on the way Moldovan domestic political solitaire develops within the next six months.
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