I agree with Dačić
If anyone still doubted Belgrade’s continuing determination to partition Kosovo, Prime Minister Dačić’s horrified reaction to mention of Kosovo’s territorial integrity in a European Union report on enlargement should remove all doubt. The EU made an almost banal remark:
Addressing the problems in northern Kosovo, while respecting the territorial integrity of Kosovo and the particular needs of the local population, will be an essential element of this process.
I am fairly upset with this statement, since it could close the Belgrade-Priština dialogue, instead of helping (re)start it. Perhaps it would have been more honest to ask Serbia to recognize Kosovo than to recognize (its) state integrity.
He’s right: the EU is insisting on Serbian acknowledgement of Kosovo’s territorial integrity, which is a step towards recognition of Kosovo as a sovereign state. Dačić and President Nikolić have been trying to duck this issue for months. They have been hoping against hope that the EU will not state bluntly what Belgrade has been told repeatedly by Germany, Sweden, the UK and other EU members: the boundary between Kosovo and Serbia will not be moved to accommodate ethnic differences. Serbia will have to recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity before it can hope to enter the EU. Belgrade has taken what comfort it could from the notion that the EU itself has never before said it.
Now the EU has. That should not be surprising: UN Security Council resolution 1244, which ended the NATO/Yugoslavia war, is absolutely clear in referring to Kosovo as a single, undivided entity from which all Yugoslav (now Serbian) security forces were to be removed. That never happened, hence the current struggle over north Kosovo, where Serbia still rules in clear violation of the UN Security Council resolution to which Belgrade constantly appeals in its claim to sovereignty over (you guessed it) all of undivided Kosovo.
For those who will object that borders have been changed in other parts of the Balkans, let me preempt: the status of the republic borders of former Yugoslavia (and of the federal unit known as Kosovo) has been changed from internal boundary to international border, but the lines have not been moved to accommodate ethnic differences.
For others who may think Cyprus represents a model the EU might want to follow (allowing Serbian accession with a territorial dispute unresolved), forget about it. No one in the EU wants to repeat that mistake.
I agree with Dačić. There is really no point in reopening the dialogue with Pristina, much less at a political level, unless Serbia is prepared to commit itself to cooperating on the reintegration of the north with the rest of Kosovo. This is the sine qua non of the talks. Without it, the EU should be prepared to wait to give Serbia a date for opening negotiations on accession. Anything softer than that risks destabilizing Macedonia, Bosnia and, by the way, Cyprus.