‘No comprehensive solution without President Biden’s involvement,’ sources say in Serbia-Kosovo talks

Belgrade and Pristina may have negotiated a “partial solution” regarding IDs. According to sources interviewed by The Pavlovic Today, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic may talk more about it during his Saturday press conference in Belgrade.

A “partial solution” on IDs, sources say, may reduce existing tensions for a few weeks but is still far from the solution everyone is hoping for. Speaking to The Pavlovic Today on Friday, Richard Grenell offered a clear idea of ​​how Biden’s White House can move the needle forward in negotiating the Belgrade-Pristina deal.

“If license plate recognition is too difficult now, then require ID recognition to start,” Grenell shared in his advice to President Biden.

“Kurti, no doubt, will go ahead with pre-registration of number plates on September 1, 2022, but if he doesn’t ban ‘KM’ number plates before October, there is a 60-day window for a license plate solution to be found,” a source close to Prime Minister Kurti’s thinking told The Pavlovic Today.

From left to right: Albin KURTI (Kosovo), Miroslav LAJÁK (EU Special Representative for Dialogue and Other Regional Issues of the Western Balkans, Slovakia), Josep BORRELL FONTELLES (EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, EEAS) , Aleksandar Vucic (President of Serbia, Serbia) /Photo: European Union

If a solution for identity documents, at least partial, is proposed before September 1, 2022, then “this same model can be applied to license plates” according to the source with direct knowledge of the Serbia-Kosovo negotiations.

The possibility of this partial solution represents a major change in the tenor of the Serbia-Kosovo negotiations. The most recent talks between Belgarde and Pristina have seen a seemingly inescapable stalemate develop and hope for mutually acceptable solutions fade. Today, however, according to our sources, cautious optimism prevails among those involved in the Serbia-Kosovo talks – yet for both sides, a real, solid step in the right direction still seems like a step too far.

The partial fix, which is expected to be announced as early as tomorrow, would only be a stopgap measure and would do nothing to address the underlying issues causing the turbulent situation. Our sources say this will only “delay the impending crisis” until October.

Serbia-Kosovo talks: Miroslav Lakcak, Prime Minister Albin Kurti and DAS Escobar. Source: Twitter/@MirsolavLajcak

Sources in Brussels who also agreed to speak to The Pavlovic Today said there was “big international pressure” to “delay the crisis” for a month or two.

Those with first-hand knowledge of the status of the Serbia-Kosovo talks revealed to The Pavlovic Today that the next round of high-level direct talks between Prime Minister Kurti and Serbian President Vucic “will not take place. anytime soon”.

Even if it could make a difference, the United States seems reluctant to step in and intervene. A source in DC said it was because “the United States doesn’t want any confrontation with the Germans”, adding that Escobar was sent to Belgarde and Pristina to “put out an immediate fire” because “no one wants to s ‘occupy’ a flare. in the Balkans while there is a hot war going on in Ukraine and a general climate of geopolitical tension.

But our sources in the delegations insisted that a strong involvement of the United States was necessary and, moreover, that despite their official reserve, the United States Department of State is following the situation very closely. A source from one of the delegations told us that the State Department is “intimately aware and knows that the direct involvement of the United States is necessary and indispensable”.

Another source was even more direct. “There will be no comprehensive solution regarding Kosovo without active American engagement at the highest levels of the US government,” they told The Pavlovic Today.

The understanding gap

Reacting to Deputy Undersecretary Gabriel Escobar’s comment, made in Belgrade to local Serbian news outlet N1, that Serbs need to ‘get away from the narrative that Kosovo is Serbia’, a source who agreed to speak to The Pavlovic Today on condition of anonymity said Escobar’s statement “illustrates the gap in understanding on the status of Kosovo between the Serbian administration and the US administration.”

DAS Escobar and Serbian President Vucic (Source: Twitter/@predsedinkrs)

This gap, our source added, also exists between the United States and the UN, of which “Serbia is a member, including the territory of Kosovo, under UN resolution 1244. The United States officially recognized Kosovo as an independent country on February 18, 2008, but Kosovo has so far not been granted full membership in the United Nations.

The source said that Serbia only “respects the territorial integrity of its own country” and pointed out that Serbia has respected “the territorial integrity of all other countries in all other cases of world affairs”.

Escobar’s statement made in Belgrade, the Kosovo Serb community found it “hurtful”, “inconsiderate” and “cruel” as they feel a deep historical and cultural connection to Kosovo and the fact “that there is no international consensus that Kosovo is independent from Serbia”. .”

For these Serbs, their cultural identity with Kosovo is “not a story” as Escobar claims, “but a historical fact”.

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