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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



"If the idea on demarcation between Serbia and Kosovo fails, there is no plan B"

If the idea on demarcation between Serbia and Kosovo fails, I don't see alternative plan, says former Pentagon official, in charge for Balkan, Michael Carpenter

August 9, 2019

He added that everything will depend on an agreement between the big players, including the US and EU, and an agreement reached by the leaders on the ground.

Carpenter believes that under current political situation in Serbia and Kosovo, it is unlikely that the idea of an exchange of territories might succeed.
Carpenter also expressed his doubts about the success of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in the way that former EU High Representative Federica Mogherini conducted it, although there is no alternative plan for the territory swap.

"I am confident that Serbia, if it is ready to overcome the barrier of recognizing Kosovo's independence, needs to be offered something concrete in return, something specific which its citizens would view as valuable. I also believe that this kind of offer is not on the table yet", Carpenter concluded.

He said that the idea of offering Serbia European Union membership in return for recognition of Kosovo is not enough, as Serbia has to comply to the set of standards, adding that establishing a fund of 10-15 billion dollars meant for the stabilization of the circumstances in Serbia and on Kosovo, supported by US, would not be out of reach for the EU.

When asked whether this US Administration is more eager than the former to resolve the Kosovo problem, the Senior Director of the "Penn Biden Center" and former advisor of the former US Vice President Joseph Biden, says that this administration hadn't made more diplomatic efforts, but current US administration "is certainly willing to use every opportunity to resolve the Kosovo-Serbia dispute".

"Everything will boil down to an agreement between the big players, including the US and EU, and an agreement reached by the leaders on the ground which, I believe, won‘t be easy, given the current Washington Administration", adding that the support to the idea of territory exchange has nothing to do with political parties' division in the US, as this idea is supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

Carpenter believed that from Moscow's perspective, keeping the Kosovo-Serbia conflict open is better for them, as that would allow Moscow to present itself as the guardian of Serbian interests, and Kosovo's adversary.
Carpenter added that election season is a very bad time to reach international agreements, along with the fact that Kosovo lacks Prime Minister currently, which represents a serious setback to any possible progress.

"I would say that the agreement is not impossible, but that it is not very likely at the moment".

Carpenter also responded to the statement of the Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic once again, who he already accused of interfering in US domestic politics by rallying Serbian Americans to support Trump in 2020, to which Dacic reacted that "nobody considered interference when Albanians voted for the Clintons or Congressman Eliot Engel".

Carpenter stated that Dacic has the right to support anyone he wants, but according to him, it is not a smart diplomatic move that a Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister puts all hopes into one political party.

"I believe that there is consensus of both political parties in US in general when it comes to the region of Serbia and Western Balkan, so I believe that it would be better for Serbia if it remains so, without any further politicization", concluded Joe Biden's former advisor, in the capacity of current Presidential candidate of Democratic Party.

Source:  https://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2019&mm=08&dd=09&nav_id=107124

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