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TIME FOR A NEW VISIT TO WASHINGTON OVER KOSOVO

19 March 2010

European politicians don’t seem to be able to resolve the issue of the relationship between the governments in Priština and in Belgrade. This is clearly seen from the impasse over the Serbian participation in the Western Balkans summit organized by Slovenia and Croatia in Brdo near Kranj, in Slovenia, on Saturday, 20 March 2010.

Priština obviously no longer agrees to appear under a name associated with UN Resolution 1244, and pressure on Serbia nas radically increased to explicitly recognise an independent Kosovo during 2010.

The constellation generated in this way will nor resolve itself, and Belgrade should approach its solution actively. Serbian high representatives should travel to Washington without delay, instead of going to the Brdo summit. They should engage in trilateral discussions with the US administration and representatives of Kosovo Albanians to find a mutually acceptable formula for postponing the full clarification of relations between Belgrade and Priština, in the interest of European integration.

In the first instance, the meeting should be held on an expert level, with the clear aim to define a frame of reference for a future dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, without an “in-built” recognition of Kosovo's independence. The expert meeting should be followed by a political summit to formalise ways to decrease pressure for the finding of a “final solution” for several years to come.

It is crucial for Serbia to avoid entering a “zero-sum game” with Washington and with its neighbours this year. An open confrontation with the EU, which seems to have decided to make 2010 the year of final resolution of the status of Kosovo, would be to the detriment of Serbia. The escalating relations can only be soothed through dialogue, primarily with the US State Secretary Hillary Clinton and with representatives of Priština.

The Serbian society at large should support an effort to postpone the “final solution” on the level of political dialougue between Belgrade-Brussels and Belgrade-Washington. The Serbian government is under enormous pressure, and honestly one must admit that nobody would be able to act singificantly differently in their shoes. We thus need a socially permissive dialogue for a transformation of this high-pressure situation into a more constructive one that would allow more time and dipomatic maneuvring room for a gradual and compromising solution to the once again escalating relationship between Belgrade on the one hand, and Brussels and Washington on the other, over Kosovo.