David L. Phillips, who served as a Senior Adviser and Foreign Affairs Expert at the U.S. State Department during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, says that there will be no EU membership for Serbia until it normalizes relations with Kosovo.
“Normalization means recognizing Kosovo’s independence,” Phillips writes in an opinion published in Huffington Post. According to him Kosovo will never again be under Serbia’s control confirming that so far, 114 countries have recognized Kosovo’s independence. Phillips says that Serbia’s approach may be evolving. On 24 July 2017, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic published an article calling on the Serbian nation to “stop burying its head in sand” on the issue of Kosovo, and to start “an internal dialogue.” According to Vucic, “We must try to be realistic, not lose or give away what we have, but not expect to receive what we have lost long ago.”
According to Phillips it is highly unlikely for Serbia to annex northern part of Kosovo. “Creating a crisis in Kosovo is risky brinksmanship. Vucic knows there is no military solution, and that military action in North Kosovo would destroy Serbia’s prospects for EU membership,” Phillips writes.
“A grand bargain would entail recognition of Kosovo by Serbia. Kosovo would join the UN, while both Kosovo and Serbia continue work on meeting EU membership criteria, entering the EU at the same time,” he writes. “The Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, mediated by the EU with a new approach and under a different format, could lead to a breakthrough, resolving one of Europe’s most intractable conflicts,” Phillips concludes.
David L. Phillips is Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He served as a Senior Adviser and Foreign Affairs Expert at the U.S. State Department during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. Phillips is author of Liberating Kosovo: Coercive Diplomacy and US Intervention.