Belgrade-based daily Blic writes today that the USA is in a hurry to resolve the Kosovo issue, since any prolongation could place the problem in the hands of Russia, that would have much greater influence over the European Commission after its forthcoming elections.
That is why Trump’s administration is exercising pressure upon Albanians to continue dialogue with Belgrade as soon as possible. US State Secretary Mike Pompeo told Kosovo President Hashim Thaci recently to seize the chance for reaching a historic, comprehensive agreement on normalization of relations with Serbia.
Blic daily further writes that the EU for some time is silently watching what is going on between Belgrade and Pristina. Even when Albanians were using the harshest provocations, the EU urged both sides to show restraint. Punishments and measures expected in a similar situation, that would otherwise be used in the case of Serbia, were missing. This way, Brussels, maybe unintentionally handed over the problem to those who are stronger and more influential. And Washington saw the opportunity. If it pressures Pristina and an agreement is reached by spring 2019, it would take credits for that.
This can explain Thaci’s sudden departure to the USA and the talks with people from Trump’s administration. However, the question remains how much Thaci is able to deliver given different stances on the dialogue between him and the Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.
If the Kosovo issue is not resolved by the spring 2019, a change in the European institutions would occur. Following elections for the European Parliament, the composition of the European Commission would change as well.
Then there would be one commissioner from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban surroundings, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Savlini, or leader of the Polish Law and Justice Party Jaroslaw Kaczynski. This does not go in favor of the capacities of the European Commission to resolve the Kosovo issue, since both Orban and Salvini have close relations with Putin. The new European Commission would strengthen the role of Russia in the Balkans, and the solution would not be near. One should also have in mind spreading of China’s influence in the region, Austrian diplomat Wolfgang Petrich has warned.
On the other hand, Russia is not in a hurry, Blic continues, adding that the German secret service recently revealed contacts between Putin’s people and Pristina authorities’ representatives. And then people from Trump’s, Macron’s and Merkel’s administration got alarmed and started to ask questions.
According to diplomatic sources, Russia is doing all it can to prevent reaching of an agreement between Serbs and Albanians, since it fears for its position in this part of Europe.
“If Serbs and Albanians reach an agreement, Russia fears they would lose the influence in the Balkans,” Blic’s source said.
However, Dragan Djukanovic from the Centre for Foreign Policy does not expect strengthening of such forces in the European institutions.
“EU as a mediator expects the dialogue to continue and to reach an agreement as soon as possible. It is crucial that Pristina revokes measures it made. I think they would understand clear signals they got from the USA on the matter and that they would follow them,” Djukanovic concluded.