The 51st Western Balkans Follow-up Committee meeting placed conflict resolution and normalisation of relations between Kosovo* and Serbia in the spotlight. The meeting, presided by Ionuţ Sibian, hosted prominent speakers from the ranks of EU officials, Western Balkans experts, as well as civil society representatives from the local communities, all of whom agreed that EU-facilitated dialogue was the only way to move forward.
Miroslav Lajčák, EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues, provided an overview of the EU-facilitated dialogue and related challenges, expressing regret that the discussion once more had to be centred on conflict resolution, rather than completion of the normalisation process.
Marko Prelec from the Crisis Group stated that a comprehensive agreement between Kosovo and Serbia was not a realistic goal at the moment, as any such agreement would include mutual recognition.
Leon Hartwell from the Centre for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) lamented the fact that there was very little political will to implement the existing 30 EU-brokered agreements between Kosovo and Serbia.
Branislav Staníček from the European Parliament's Research Service (EPRS) underlined the importance of transatlantic cooperation for the success of the normalisation dialogue. Participants from local civil society organisations from Belgrade, Pristina and North Mitrovica highlighted the importance of creating conditions for bridging the ethnic divide between the communities.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence. (at)