The continuation of the dialogue mediated by the EU, specifically the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Joseph Borrell and EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajčak, is a sign of encouragement despite the unpleasant incidents that occurred during the dialogue.Analysts believe that the key impediment to finalization of the dialogue between the official Belgrade and Pristina is the “conflict” of two constitutional concepts. Namely, while according to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia Kosovo is an autonomous province that is an integral part of the Republic of Serbia, according to the Kosovo Constitution Kosovo is an independent and separate state. Therefore, the mediators of the dialogue will have to invest additional efforts and skills to finalize the dialogue by devising a compromise solution and signing a comprehensive binding agreement between the official Belgrade and Pristina. Implementation of the already signed Brussels and Washington agreements is of key importance for successful continuation of the dialogue.
Namely, the implementation of the Brussels agreement from 2013, and particularly the parts related to missing persons (Kosovo Liberation Army archive) and establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities, is completely blocked. The Washington Agreement from 2020 envisages resolution of the dispute regarding the utilization and management of the Gazivode Lake. Furthermore, the US have recently made a feasibility study for the solution to the Gazivode Lake dispute. Namely, one third of water supply on Kosovo and 97% of production of electric energy directly depends on the Gazivode Lake.
Analysts believe that the recent video-meeting between Vučić, Zaev and Rama had reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the “Mini Schengen” project, which after 30 years of disputes, tensions, conflicts and delays is a chance that can lead to prosperity of all countries in the region. According to analysts the recent decision of Serbia and its President Aleksandar Vučić to support the Albanian candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council was prudent and important, as it represent a new positive development in regional relations. However, other countries, i.e. Montenegro, did not make such or similar gestures. Namely, Montenegro has still not withdrawn its disputable decision on exile of the Serbian Ambassador from Montenegro Vladimir Božović, although the decision was contrary to diplomatic conventions.
The recent opening of the European Roma Institute of Art and Culture (ERIAC) and the Roma Education Fund in Belgrade are a testimony of how much effort Serbia is investing in preserving the Roma language and culture, quality youth education and greater Roma participation in public life, fighting discrimination, and respecting social equality and human rights of Roma. As Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić noted, this will contribute to creation of a better future for all citizens, because a better life for Roma also means a better life for Serbia. Vučić also announced that 100 young Roma will be employed in the public administration. So far, the ERIAC institute for Roma exists only in Serbia and Germany.At the initiative of the Minister for Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, Zoran Đorđević (SNS), in 2019 a working group for proposal of modifications of the social welfare law was established. Namely, the social welfare would be increased by 50% for families with a child achieving very good results in school, if other children have regularly attended or are attending school, and 100% for families with a child achieving excellent results in school. As the social welfare users were predominantly Roma, it is believed that in the long run incentives of the kind, which already exist in some other countries, will be the most efficient way to achieve 100% inclusion efficiency. Namely, children who complete education programs are more likely not to want to live like nomads. The plan was to finalize everything by 2020, but everything got prolonged because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Analysts believe that it is important that the state of Serbia demonstrates what it can structurally do for Roma. Furthermore, numerous programs and projects that include the Roma population as well are underway.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said “We have to develop an entrepreneurial spirit among the Roma. We must work on this issue in the whole of Serbia, with all citizens, including the Roma, to give a chance to young, talented people.” Vučić also pointed out that the commitment is not only to live and work together but to respect each other and to learn from each other.
Analysts believe that Serbia made a right decision when it allowed citizens of other countries in the region to get a free vaccination because in such a way it demonstrated broad solidarity and regional approach to combating the pandemic, particularly as no country can effectively fight the Covid-19 pandemic alone. By making timely and decisive measures Serbia managed to protect its citizens and prevent a health disaster of broad scale. This was also confirmed by key international factors. However, additional efforts still need to be invested to motivate the citizens to get vaccinated.
Austrian federal chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) assessed that the criticism of Serbia over its cooperation with Russia and China was unjustified. He noted that Serbia had achieved significant progress, which should be “rewarded” also with progress on the European path. “We want all Western Balkan countries to have a European perspective. Particularly in Serbia, developments have been very positive, which must be acknowledged and must also lead to progress on the European path.Anything else would lead to Europe and the EU losing credibility in the region.That would be bad considering that it is a region where many countries of the world have geopolitical interests. Much is at stake. ”
Analysts believe that in the coming period more work will need to be done on strengthening and development of trust between Serbia and the EU, while the EU should demonstrate more sensibility towards Serbia and its position, as well as indicate more clearly its intentions with respect to future membership in the EU.
According to analysts, it will be necessary to device an inventive solution for the “conflict” of two constitutional concepts, which will be based on further implementation of European values, strict respect of the rule of law and recognition of the achievements and success of Serbian policy in the past few years. /IFIMES
Ljubljana/Washington/Brussels/Belgrade, 5 July 2021