The European Union’s former top diplomat Javier Solana believes that the time has come for diplomatic efforts to bear fruit in the Balkans.
“As autumn comes to Europe, it is time to reap the fruits of months of hard diplomatic work across the Balkan Peninsula,” he wrote in an opinion piece for the Project Syndicate portal.
Former EU High Representative and NATO Secretary-General wrote that the frozen Belgrade-Pristina conflict could “soon thaw enough to move towards a resolution” thanks to the efforts of the EU which “initiated a dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo that has since produced significant benefits in terms of freedom of movement, trade, economic opportunities, security, justice, connectivity, and much else”.
Solana said that it is not up to the EU to set the terms of a possible agreement to normalize Belgrade-Pristina relations. “It is clear that local ownership will be key to any deal that may emerge from the process”, he said.
“Despite the gradual normalization of bilateral relations, the fundamental dispute between the two countries remains unresolved. Both sides are acutely aware that the status quo implies a high cost, by hampering their EU accession bids and imposing an unsustainable burden on their respective economies,” Solana said.
He warned that caution and moderation are essential at this stage in the dialogue. “The legacies of (the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo) Vucic and Thaci will largely depend on their willingness to formulate a realistic proposal that aligns with the foundational values of the EU,” he said.