Showing posts tagged as "kosovo"

Showing posts tagged kosovo

15 Apr
Security on the line in Kosovo-Serbia | Today’s Zaman
By Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director
The situation between Kosovo and Serbia has just become a lot more insecure. Last week, EU Special Representative Catherine Ashton announced it was the last time that she was meeting Kosovo and Serbia prime ministers formally in the context of the mediation effort she has led since October 2012. Serbia said that it rejects the European proposals. Unless some form of talks continue, tensions will rise, and the EU’s credibility as a conflict resolution actor will suffer another serious blow.


After years of posturing, punctuated by outbursts of violence in 2009 and 2011, Kosovo and Serbia first agreed to take part in EU facilitated talks in March 2011. They clinched agreements on trade relations, participation in regional meetings and recognition of one another’s diplomats. Ashton then took up the reins of the dialogue to focus more broadly on the political challenge of normalizing Kosovo-Serbia relations and transforming Belgrade-financed institutions in Serb majority northern Kosovo into ones that could fit into Kosovo’s jurisdiction.

FULL ARTICLE (Today’s Zaman)
Photo: Flickr/European Parliament

Security on the line in Kosovo-Serbia | Today’s Zaman

By Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director

The situation between Kosovo and Serbia has just become a lot more insecure. Last week, EU Special Representative Catherine Ashton announced it was the last time that she was meeting Kosovo and Serbia prime ministers formally in the context of the mediation effort she has led since October 2012. Serbia said that it rejects the European proposals. Unless some form of talks continue, tensions will rise, and the EU’s credibility as a conflict resolution actor will suffer another serious blow.

After years of posturing, punctuated by outbursts of violence in 2009 and 2011, Kosovo and Serbia first agreed to take part in EU facilitated talks in March 2011. They clinched agreements on trade relations, participation in regional meetings and recognition of one another’s diplomats. Ashton then took up the reins of the dialogue to focus more broadly on the political challenge of normalizing Kosovo-Serbia relations and transforming Belgrade-financed institutions in Serb majority northern Kosovo into ones that could fit into Kosovo’s jurisdiction.

FULL ARTICLE (Today’s Zaman)

Photo: Flickr/European Parliament

8 Apr
Quality Matters More Than Timing in Potential Kosovo-Serbia Deal | World Politics Review
By Catherine Cheney
Leaders from Serbia and Kosovo, who came together in Brussels earlier this week for the last of eight rounds of formal talks mediated by the European Union, failed to come to an agreement on the status of northern Kosovo.  
Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared its independence in 2008, but Serbia has never recognized it as an independent state. Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo reject the authority of the government in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital.
Marko Prelec, director of the International Crisis Group’s Balkans Project, told Trend Lines in an email interview that there is still time to strike a deal between the two sides. “The quality of the agreement is much more important than its timing,” he said.
FULL ARTICLE (World Politics Review)
Photo: Ian Turton/Flickr

Quality Matters More Than Timing in Potential Kosovo-Serbia Deal | World Politics Review

By Catherine Cheney

Leaders from Serbia and Kosovo, who came together in Brussels earlier this week for the last of eight rounds of formal talks mediated by the European Union, failed to come to an agreement on the status of northern Kosovo.  

Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared its independence in 2008, but Serbia has never recognized it as an independent state. Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo reject the authority of the government in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital.

Marko Prelec, director of the International Crisis Group’s Balkans Project, told Trend Lines in an email interview that there is still time to strike a deal between the two sides. “The quality of the agreement is much more important than its timing,” he said.

FULL ARTICLE (World Politics Review)

Photo: Ian Turton/Flickr

1 Apr
Kosovo and Serbia near accord to end ethnic partition | Reuters
By Matt Robinson and Fatos Bytyci
The stakes are high. Coupled with the EU accession of former Yugoslav Croatia in July, an accord between Serbia and Kosovo “would ripple through the Western Balkans”, the International Crisis Group think-tank said, by cementing stability in Serbia, the region’s biggest power.
But if the talks fail, it said, “on the ground, where both sides are nervous, a spark could ignite inter-ethnic violence”.
On the table in Brussels is a possible deal for Serbia to recognize the authority of Kosovo over the north, in return for some form of self-rule for the Serbs living there.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: Robert Thivierge/Flickr

Kosovo and Serbia near accord to end ethnic partition | Reuters

By Matt Robinson and Fatos Bytyci

The stakes are high. Coupled with the EU accession of former Yugoslav Croatia in July, an accord between Serbia and Kosovo “would ripple through the Western Balkans”, the International Crisis Group think-tank said, by cementing stability in Serbia, the region’s biggest power.

But if the talks fail, it said, “on the ground, where both sides are nervous, a spark could ignite inter-ethnic violence”.

On the table in Brussels is a possible deal for Serbia to recognize the authority of Kosovo over the north, in return for some form of self-rule for the Serbs living there.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: Robert Thivierge/Flickr

19 Feb
"If they can finalise agreements on the border and make real progress in talks on governing institutions and the rule of law in the North before the European Council (summit) in June 2013, the EU is ready to reward both."

—from Crisis Group’s recent report, Serbia and Kosovo: The Path to Normalisation

"Navigating a sure route through the waters will be hard, but recent developments provide hope, as results in the early stages of the talks have thawed some of the mutual rigidity."

—from Crisis Group’s recent report, Serbia and Kosovo: The Path to Normalisation

"The leaders of both states seem more ready than ever to compromise, but the northern Kosovo Serbs are staunchly opposed to integration, low-level violence is increasing, Kosovo nationalists are tense, and a spark could set off intercommunal fighting."

—from Crisis Group’s recent report, Serbia and Kosovo: The Path to Normalisation

"After years of posturing, punctuated by outbursts of violence, Serbia and Kosovo began to implement a landmark agreement on border control, opening joint posts at crossings that had been variously barricaded, circumvented or burned to the ground for much of the past two years."

—from Crisis Group’s recent report, Serbia and Kosovo: The Path to Normalisation

Serbia and Kosovo: The Path to Normalisation
Pristina/Belgrade/Brussels  |   19 Feb 2013
Serbia and Kosovo must build on a recent breakthrough in negotiations and extend dialogue to sensitive issues, especially northern Kosovo’s institutions, in order to keep their fragile relationship moving forward.
Serbia and Kosovo: The Path to Normalisation, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the progress made in bilateral dialogue since the EU-facilitated negotiations began in March 2011. It argues in favour of transforming Serbian structures in the North so that they can fit into a common Kosovo framework based on a flexible and extended application of the plan devised by the  former UN special envoy and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari. At the same time, Serbia should welcome Kosovo’s membership in the Council of Europe and other international and regional organisations and events.
“The dialogue is now at a decisive point. Belgrade’s and Pristina’s positions on northern Kosovo have never been closer”, says Marko Prelec, Crisis Group’s Balkans Project Director, “but low-level violence in the North is increasing and could worsen if the opportunity for important new progress is missed”.
In December 2012, Serbia and Kosovo reached a landmark agreement on border control, opening two jointly-managed posts at crossings that had been barricaded or circumvented for the two years.  As soon as possible, the two should finalise its implementation; agree on how to collect customs duty and VAT; and define the modalities of a special fund to collect and disburse these revenues in the North. Kosovo and EU officers should be provided freedom of movement to reach the border, while the Kosovo government should continue to allow residents to cross with Serbia or Kosovo issued documents and plates. 
Northern Kosovo Serbs oppose the border agreement and much of the current dialogue, and violent incidents still occur. Securing local acceptance will be hard; to help pave the way Belgrade should make deals reached in the dialogue more transparent, Kosovo should allow Serbian representatives to visit northern Kosovo, and the latter’s leaders should accept an invitation to participate when the dialogue addresses issues of local concern.
The disagreement between Kosovo and Serbia centres on the Ahtisaari plan, which sets in place Kosovo’s internal structure and statehood. Flexible application would allow Serbia and Kosovo to find the best solutions to the impasse over northern Kosovo. In particular, the transformation of the North’s existing structures into self-governing bodies and a region that could fit into Kosovo’s jurisdiction could ease tensions, meet the needs of the local community and preserve Kosovo’s integrity. Kosovo Serbs should have additional oversight over appointments of local officials, especially in the northern police and judiciary.
Substantial progress in normalising their bilateral relations, in particular settling disagreements over northern Kosovo, would open up negotiations for an EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement for Pristina; Belgrade would benefit from starting formal EU membership negotiations. Both steps should amplify EU influence and over time create a better climate for resolving remaining bilateral disputes.
“Belgrade and Pristina should seize this chance to engage in a substantial discussion on the transformation of existing structures in North Kosovo”, says Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director. “Navigating a sure route will be hard, but early stages of the talks and recent developments provide hope that a new normality is slowly emerging between the two neighbours”. 
FULL REPORT

Serbia and Kosovo: The Path to Normalisation

Pristina/Belgrade/Brussels  |   19 Feb 2013

Serbia and Kosovo must build on a recent breakthrough in negotiations and extend dialogue to sensitive issues, especially northern Kosovo’s institutions, in order to keep their fragile relationship moving forward.

Serbia and Kosovo: The Path to Normalisation, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the progress made in bilateral dialogue since the EU-facilitated negotiations began in March 2011. It argues in favour of transforming Serbian structures in the North so that they can fit into a common Kosovo framework based on a flexible and extended application of the plan devised by the  former UN special envoy and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martti Ahtisaari. At the same time, Serbia should welcome Kosovo’s membership in the Council of Europe and other international and regional organisations and events.

“The dialogue is now at a decisive point. Belgrade’s and Pristina’s positions on northern Kosovo have never been closer”, says Marko Prelec, Crisis Group’s Balkans Project Director, “but low-level violence in the North is increasing and could worsen if the opportunity for important new progress is missed”.

In December 2012, Serbia and Kosovo reached a landmark agreement on border control, opening two jointly-managed posts at crossings that had been barricaded or circumvented for the two years.  As soon as possible, the two should finalise its implementation; agree on how to collect customs duty and VAT; and define the modalities of a special fund to collect and disburse these revenues in the North. Kosovo and EU officers should be provided freedom of movement to reach the border, while the Kosovo government should continue to allow residents to cross with Serbia or Kosovo issued documents and plates. 

Northern Kosovo Serbs oppose the border agreement and much of the current dialogue, and violent incidents still occur. Securing local acceptance will be hard; to help pave the way Belgrade should make deals reached in the dialogue more transparent, Kosovo should allow Serbian representatives to visit northern Kosovo, and the latter’s leaders should accept an invitation to participate when the dialogue addresses issues of local concern.

The disagreement between Kosovo and Serbia centres on the Ahtisaari plan, which sets in place Kosovo’s internal structure and statehood. Flexible application would allow Serbia and Kosovo to find the best solutions to the impasse over northern Kosovo. In particular, the transformation of the North’s existing structures into self-governing bodies and a region that could fit into Kosovo’s jurisdiction could ease tensions, meet the needs of the local community and preserve Kosovo’s integrity. Kosovo Serbs should have additional oversight over appointments of local officials, especially in the northern police and judiciary.

Substantial progress in normalising their bilateral relations, in particular settling disagreements over northern Kosovo, would open up negotiations for an EU Stabilisation and Association Agreement for Pristina; Belgrade would benefit from starting formal EU membership negotiations. Both steps should amplify EU influence and over time create a better climate for resolving remaining bilateral disputes.

“Belgrade and Pristina should seize this chance to engage in a substantial discussion on the transformation of existing structures in North Kosovo”, says Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director. “Navigating a sure route will be hard, but early stages of the talks and recent developments provide hope that a new normality is slowly emerging between the two neighbours”. 

FULL REPORT

1 Feb
Preševo’s grievances and the Kosovo-Serbia talks
from Crisis Group’s blog, “The Balkan Regatta”
by Marko Prelec, Balkans Project Director
Over the past few weeks, tensions have been growing in southern Serbia’s Albanian-majority Preševo Valley, spilling over the border into Serb majority communities in Kosovo and putting at risk the EU mediated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, which looks poised to make a historical breakthrough. Urgent action is needed.
In the aftermath of the Kosovo war of 1999, some Serbian forces relocated from Kosovo to southern Serbia, increasing repression against the local Albanian population. A new group, the “Liberation Army of Preševo, Medvedja and Bujanovac” (UÇPMB), formed and attacked Serbian forces in the Valley until a NATO-brokered ceasefire in May 2001. Life over the past two decades largely returned to normal, and the Valley became a rare conflict resolution success story in the former Yugoslavia, though dissatisfaction remained over security, jobs and services. More recently, Albanian leaders have been watching the high-level dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, worrying about how it might affect them.
FULL POST (Crisis Group)
Photo: Felicia Violi/Wikimedia Commons

Preševo’s grievances and the Kosovo-Serbia talks

from Crisis Group’s blog, “The Balkan Regatta

by Marko Prelec, Balkans Project Director

Over the past few weeks, tensions have been growing in southern Serbia’s Albanian-majority Preševo Valley, spilling over the border into Serb majority communities in Kosovo and putting at risk the EU mediated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, which looks poised to make a historical breakthrough. Urgent action is needed.

In the aftermath of the Kosovo war of 1999, some Serbian forces relocated from Kosovo to southern Serbia, increasing repression against the local Albanian population. A new group, the “Liberation Army of Preševo, Medvedja and Bujanovac” (UÇPMB), formed and attacked Serbian forces in the Valley until a NATO-brokered ceasefire in May 2001. Life over the past two decades largely returned to normal, and the Valley became a rare conflict resolution success story in the former Yugoslavia, though dissatisfaction remained over security, jobs and services. More recently, Albanian leaders have been watching the high-level dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, worrying about how it might affect them.

FULL POST (Crisis Group)

Photo: Felicia Violi/Wikimedia Commons

25 Jan
Serbia urges autonomy for Serbs in Kosovo | Reuters
By Matt Robinson
After more than 12 hours of debate, parliament adopted a resolution calling for broad autonomy for ethnic Serbs within the legal framework of Kosovo - implicit recognition of the authority of the Kosovo government over its entire territory.
One analyst called the resolution a “milestone”, but hard-line Serbian nationalists accused the government of betrayal at the behest of the European Union, which has said membership talks for Serbia depend on improved relations with Kosovo.
"Belgrade never before accepted Pristina’s jurisdiction over Serb-held northern Kosovo," said Marko Prelec of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think-tank.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: United Nations Photo/Flickr

Serbia urges autonomy for Serbs in Kosovo | Reuters

By Matt Robinson

After more than 12 hours of debate, parliament adopted a resolution calling for broad autonomy for ethnic Serbs within the legal framework of Kosovo - implicit recognition of the authority of the Kosovo government over its entire territory.

One analyst called the resolution a “milestone”, but hard-line Serbian nationalists accused the government of betrayal at the behest of the European Union, which has said membership talks for Serbia depend on improved relations with Kosovo.

"Belgrade never before accepted Pristina’s jurisdiction over Serb-held northern Kosovo," said Marko Prelec of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think-tank.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: United Nations Photo/Flickr