Miroslav Lajčák certainly does not want that, but his attempt to bring Serbs and Albanians to an agreement is already too similar to all the previous ones. The Slovak wants to inspire them with enthusiasm, and even haste, to bring Europe the much-desired success in a discipline in which it is considered the best – in the peaceful resolution of complicated world crises, after ten years of torment. Unfortunately, he is not succeeding for now, despite his undeniable great diplomatic experience and personal diplomatic trophies, according to which he belongs to the very top in Europe.
Since half a year ago, when he was appointed special European envoy for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Lajčák’s diary has almost the same number of held and canceled negotiating rounds. He is certainly frustrated with this half-effect, but there is not much of his personal guilt here. Simply, Lajčák was hired by an organization that has neither the strength, nor the will, to finish the job. The European Union is devouring every energy and ambition that someone (Lajčák in this case) shows to solve a problem it has been struggling with for a full decade.
The Slovak diplomat recently said that it was “high time” for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to be successfully brought to an end. He said that on the occasion of the tenth anniversary since the EU took over the lead in this dialogue, he sounded both determined and disappointed at the same time. At this point, when the number of scheduled and then canceled meetings grows, he will be less and less determined and more and more disappointed.
Lajčák knew very well that few would believe that the last scheduled round of talks at the top, scheduled for last Monday, had been canceled – because of the Corona virus! This explanation is as unconvincing as any other you reach for in despair, because you have already “fired” all the other excuses. The real reason, of course, is that the team from Pristina simply does not want to talk about the formation of the Union of Serbian Municipalities, about the only obligation it needs to fulfill.
According to the established custom, Europe meets its needs and, for now, postpones the agreed meetings. Thus, it enters the spiral again, which at its end has a complete blockade of the dialogue, and we have already seen that in the case of fees on goods from Serbia. The tolerance of the European Union to the whims of Pristina is limitless, but at the same time destructive, because this is about constant giving in to a spoiled child.
While Europe is “walking on eggshells” so as not to anger Pristina, there is no such sentiment on the other track of the same dialogue. In just two weeks since the signing of the agreement in Washington, people from the American development agency DFC came to Belgrade and Pristina and searched thoroughly the projects that could be financed immediately. The office of this institution has also started working in Belgrade, which will “raise” money for infrastructure projects, but also attract private business to invest with us. And we are talking about billions, in the plural, not about one billion as they originally expected in our country. This monetary aspect of the agreement will be implemented only if the two sides show that they are still moving towards reaching a final compromise. If they resist, and that refers primarily to Pristina, nothing will happen with development projects. Extremely simple and efficient. And what does another mediator offer?
Like it or not, Miroslav Lajčák can easily be an accomplice in a hypocritical and fundamentally destructive strategy towards the Balkans. A decade of dialogue, after which someone else needs to intervene and resolve things, means nothing more than the missed ten years. Missed – for Europe and its Balkan candidates, but by no means missed for many others who do not want to see the Balkans in Europe.
In ten years of futile attempts, of Brussels’ constant concessions to the tricks from Pristina, it has been shown that a great Europe has no way of teaching one destructive side in the process what mature behavior means. It is an inexhaustible source of undermining the dialogue, which has been going on from Pristina for a decade – fees on Serbian goods, the beginning of the trial of KLA leaders in The Hague, constant government collapse and early elections, refusal to discuss the Union of Serbian Municipalities… Europe has respected all these excuses for years and thus makes a truly frozen conflict out of Kosovo. Just as the current war between Armenia and Azerbaijan is a typical frozen conflict that occasionally shows its “defrosted” face. Is the European vanity, due to the success that Washington is achieving in the Kosovo process, so strong that it will allow Pristina to block the whole process once again? Or maybe they will be able to force Hoti and the team to do what they committed themselves to do? Belgrade and Vučić are calmly waiting for the Brussels to be brave and oppose Pristina, perhaps for the first time. Any further delay would be offensive to Serbia.