The distance between Belgrade (or Pristina, all the same) and Washington is about 7,000 kilometers, which is eight to nine hours by plane, which means a lot of kerosene. Aleksandar Vučić rightly recently told the negotiators from Pristina not to spend fuel for this trip in vain, if they hope for the final status and recognition of Kosovo by Serbia. And since the Serbian delegation, led by President Vučić, will certainly not receive kerosene for free from NIS for the trip to Washington, but will pay for it like any other customer, it is time to see what reasons Serbia has for that expense.
We should not pay attention to those European and domestic observers, who have been talking belittlingly since the June meeting in Washington that the only purpose of the summit in the White House is to take photos together. They should especially be ignored now, when it is clearly indicated that President Trump will join the negotiators. The meeting in the White House, not even the one at the end of June, and especially the upcoming one at the beginning of September, will be anything but a mere joint photo session. If for no other reason, is it realistic for Trump’s closest associates, and especially the American president himself, to spend their invaluable pre-election time on organizing and participating in a meeting whose only goal will be – photo session?
If it will no longer be a mere form, and not a certification of full Kosovo independence, about which Vučić informed Pristina in a timely manner, then what will be discussed in the White House? About the economy, of course, because all the announcements confirm that, including the latest from the national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, who also adds that he believes in the first steps in the progress of the peace agreement. So not JUST about the economy. The White House will not open, and President Trump will not appear at the Serbian-Albanian dialogue in order to facilitate the passage of trucks with “plazma” and “Jaffa-biscuits” through Merdare.
The Americans are determined to make a breakthrough in the long-standing Serbian-Albanian negotiations, which under the previous leadership of the European Union have not brought results. How successful they will be in that does not depend on Pristina, but depends on the position of Serbia and what Aleksandar Vučić will take with him to Washington. America and its president welcome negotiators from the Balkans, delighted by the historic diplomatic success in the Middle East, where they managed to “push” Israel and the United Arab Emirates to establish diplomatic relations and thus open the door to lasting peace in the region. Trump and his associates, without a doubt, approach the Kosovo issue with the same enthusiasm and expectations – to resolve the matter and finally stabilize the Balkans, ending its longest-lasting and most explosive conflict. And in order to achieve that, they need wisdom and determination from Belgrade. For that, they need Belgrade to know what it wants, and not just what it doesn’t want. It is not enough to say that Serbia will reject EU membership if it recognizes Kosovo, it is not enough to say that the economy is being discussed with the United States, and that the EU is responsible for talks on Kosovo’s status.
America, and especially the White House, is the place where not only the status issue of Kosovo is discussed, but also decided, regardless of the fact that the mandate for that issue was transferred from the UN to the Europeans a long time ago. In the last few decades, there has not been a single major international crisis that has not been resolved without the leadership, or at least the participation of the United States, which we in the Balkans know especially well. Even after a quarter of a century, no one calls the peace agreement for B&H “Paris”, where it was formally signed, but “Dayton”, after the city in Ohio where it was agreed and initialed. Neither the United Nations nor the European Union will and cannot bypass any aspect of resolving the Kosovo issue, but these are not the places where a final and complete agreement can be reached.
That is why, in fact, it suits Serbia to open the issue of the final status of Kosovo and Serbia’s attitude towards that status in Washington. Precisely in Washington, as the birthplace of Kosovo’s independence, as a factor that, a decade after the declaration of independence, realized that the problem had not been solved and decided to open a new chance for an agreement. In previous talks with representatives of the Trump administration, Serbian negotiators, and especially President Vučić, have shown that they understand the seriousness and importance of this opportunity. And they will have a special opportunity to show that on September 4 in the White House, where talks will certainly be held on a final, compromise solution for Kosovo, which is, after all, a common interest of both Serbia and the United States.
The Serbian president now has a special opportunity to confirm his policy on Kosovo, by which he “turned the game around” and from previous positions which were not to recognize Kosovo as a state and full stop, he started looking for a compromise that would give Serbia something. He should not worry about the support of such a policy in Serbia, because the recent violent right-wing protests in front of the Assembly showed that it was a matter of a few thousand people, with extremists imported from abroad. It turned out that the opponents of the agreement with Pristina are not a real problem for the Serbian president, but it can be all those who hope for an agreement, and that agreement is missing. If the representatives of the UAE and Israel had been guided by public opinion research, they would never have reached this historic agreement. Because, the job of a leader is to lead the people and not to follow them!
As an experienced politician and statesman, Aleksandar Vučić certainly knows what an opportunity for Serbia was missed during the last important meeting between a leader from Belgrade and the American president – Milošević and Clinton in Paris 25 years ago, during the signing of the mentioned peace agreement on B&H. When asked by Bill Clinton: “Mr. President, what can the United States do for the people of Serbia,” Milošević said arrogantly and without any state responsibility: “Mr. Clinton, you and I both know that Oswald did not kill Kennedy.” Bill Clinton, rightly shocked by such bizarreness, just folded the previously opened folder with documents and left the meeting. We must be convinced that Aleksandar Vučić will have a ready and good answer, if he is soon presented with the opportunity to answer a question by Donald Trump – “Mr. President, what can the United States do for Serbia”.