Trading Democracy for Dialogue

An interview with Bodo Weber from Democratization Policy Council on the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue and rule of law.

PI recently sat down with Bodo Weber, a policy analyst with the Berlin-based Democratization Policy Council. Weber is the author of the recent BIG DEAL report, “Awkward Juggling: Constitutional insecurity, political instability and the rule of law at risk in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.” The report focuses on the December 2015 decision by Kosovo’s Constitutional Court with respect to the to-be-formed Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities and the challenges the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue have posed to the rule of law in Kosovo.

Weber spoke to PI about how the so-called ‘International Community’ is trading Democracy for solving the status dispute over Kosovo, something he wrote about in a previous report, the value of EU “facilitation” in ongoing negotiations between Belgrade and Prishtina and the how to break the political polarization over the controversial agreements.

“Of course there are actors on opposition side that in their acting give perfect pretext…for western actors to perceive that they had no other option because the other political actors cannot be partners,” said Weber. “So it is a perfect complete deadlock because you know that your current cooperation partners in Kosovo and in the region are not ideal from a democracy and rule of law point of view, but it creates a sense of being without alternative.”

Weber also pointed out the difference between violence in the streets and political violence.

“In the theory of violence there are two forms of violence: direct, physical violence and there are other indirect forms of violence,” he said. “Legal violence can be a form of violence, political violence. And I think we have seen both here. So I would I think, you get closer to a solution when you don’t ignore other forms of violence that we’ve seen here that are not physical and have not been exercised on the street.”

Weber also spoke briefly about the decision to ignore the Serbian constitution in the pursuit of forging agreements between Kosovo and Serbia.

“We know that the April [2013]  agreement is not in accordance with the Serbian constitution because it is basically integrating into Kosovo Republic state institutions: the police and judiciary,” said Weber. “And we on the EU side were happy for the Serbian government since 2013 to pressure their Constitutional Court in Belgrade not to look into the documents while at the same time next year or this year probably will open Chapter 23 on the rule of law in Serbia and judicial reform. How do you bring those things strategically together in five or seven or eight years, wanting to have Serbia enter the EU as a member with a functioning rule of law?”

20/04/2016 - 18:21

20 April 2016 - 18:21

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