A London-based international law expert who has advised Kosovo leaders since 1999 claims Kosovo stands to gain more from the EU published draft agreement than Serbia.
Marc Weller, an adviser to the Kosovo negotiation team in the dialogue with Serbia since the historic Rambouillet accords in 1999, told BIRN the recently published draft agreement between the two countries for the first time puts Kosovo in a better strategic position than Serbia – which must make constitutional changes if the agreement is signed.
“This is the first time that, in principle, Kosovo is in a better strategic position because Serbia … has to remove the part in its constitution which claims that Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia, and should recognize Kosovo,” Weller told BIRN’s Kallxo Pernime show on Monday.
Weller advised Kosovo’s President Ibrahim Rugova in the 1990s and was part of the team for the Rambouillet accords in France in 1999 between the Former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and representatives of Kosovo Albanians, and also for the Ahtisaari plan. He explained that for Kosovo to remain in a better strategic position, and benefit this time around, it “must participate constructively in negotiations”.
Kosovo and Serbia leaders Albin Kurti and Aleksandar Vucic broke their deadlock on February 27, 2023, by tentatively agreeing to a European Union plan on the normalisation of relations.
Nothing has been signed yet, however, although the EU has published the agreement on its website. It is expected that the EU’s envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, will visit the two countries in the coming weeks, while the next Kurti-Vucic meeting is expected to be held on March 18 in Skopje, North Macedonia.
According to Weller, the draft agreement “is not in itself about formal legal recognition but is very close. It demands that Serbia treat Kosovo on the basis of the sovereign equality of states, and this is a very important sentence”.
“The Parties shall develop normal, good-neighbourly relations with each other on the basis of equal rights,” the first article of the draft agreement reads, adding the two must mutually recognize “respective documents and national symbols”.
“The agreement then requires Serbia to treat Kosovo in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, including non-use of force and non-threats of use of force,” Weller told BIRN.
“This agreement is a step but it is a step towards another even bigger step leading to the main goal. All of Kosovo’s international partners have made it clear that this agreement simply outlines the path to full normalization of relations,” he claimed.
Referring to the obligation for Kosovo to establish an Association of Serb-majority municipalities, based on a 2013 Brussels agreement with Serbia, Weller explains that the agreement includes “another concept related to cooperative measures of cooperation among the Serbian community, which can essentially be accommodated within the current legislation of Kosovo”.
Although it does not specifically mention the heated issue of the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities, the agreement says Kosovo and Serbia should implement all past agreements, which remain “valid and binding”.
07 March 2023 - 12:01
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