According to the Financial Times, the EU should not “step back” towards the Western Balkans, otherwise Russia and Turkey would “fill the gap”. The fact is that the Balkan countries start to “doubt the EU’s sincerity after waiting at the door for years”. For example, only 26% of Serbs think that the EU accession would be a good achievement, according to the newspaper.
In view of the participation of members of the Army of Montenegro in the KFOR mission in Kosovo, Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin urged Montenegro not to send officers to because it did not ask Serbia for permission, and it would not help dialogue or stabilization in the region, nor improve relations with the state of Serbia. Vulin also reminded Montenegrin authorities that Kosovo and Metohija are part of the state of Serbia under UN Resolution 1244. Military analyst Aleksandar Radic stated that the participation in the KFOR mission in Kosovo would not be a problem in relations between Montenegro and Serbia and that Montenegro commits to participate in international missions due to the alliance with NATO.
Avni Arifi, Chief of Kosovo delegation in technical talks with Serbia, announced to online media Telegrafi that the EU-facilitated talks between Pristina and Belgrade will resume in Brussels by the end of February. Arifi said the date was yet to be set but the resumption of the dialogue is expected in late February, after the cancellation of talks following the killing of the Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, on 16 January in Mitrovica North. Such dialogue is oriented both on the integration of Serbian community within Kosovo legal frame, and the normalization of relations between the two countries.
The EU would accept for six Western Balkans countries to enter the organization, according to Financial Times: Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
According to Gazeta Express, Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti said that there is a current version of the EU enlargement strategy, which urgently calls for a complete normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, in the form of a legally binding agreement. The article claims that an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina is considered to be of fundamental importance for the European perspective both of Kosovo and of Serbia as well as for the entire region. To this end, the High Representative of the EU is expected to intensify his efforts to facilitate the negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade in order to achieve the normalization of relations. It is reported also that the strategy includes an “indicative illustration” of the measures necessary to complete the process of Serbia’s accession to the EU by 2025. Therefore, by the end of 2019 at the latest, Belgrade should meet the transition criteria set out in Chapter 35, concerning Kosovo. This means that in less than two years, Belgrade and Pristina should close all the controversial issues, which seems rather ambitious, given the slow pace of the previous dialogue, the newspaper reported.
Prime Minister Brnabic took part yesterday in the meeting of the “New Leaders for Europe” in the World Economic Forum in Davos. Here she affirmed that Serbia is deeply committed to European integration, as it shares European values and the idea of peace and stability.
President Vucic travelled to Kosovo in the weekend to visit the Serb people in the province. He listened to them, and problems are emerged such as the salary gap. He answered the critics who accused him and his party to be behind the murder of Ivanovic, saying that those people have never been in Kosovo, and that his conscience is clear.
A proposal to abolish the Specialist Chambers has been sent by the Presidency of the Kosovo Assembly to the government. 42 members of the Assembly signed the proposal, and the government is expected to give its opinion and put it into procedure.
EU will present the “Credible Enlargement Perspective for the Western Balkans” on February 6th. The document will concern guidelines to boost the process of integration of Western Balkans countries, and in particular of Montenegro and Serbia. 2019 will be a crucial year for the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, according to this paper, and for the negotiations of the chapters 23 and 24 for Serbia in the EU path.
The Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic announced that President Vucic will visit Kosovo to ensure the protection and security of the Serbs living there, and to grant that “these people have not been forgotten”. He also commented the position of Kosovo Prime Minister Haradinaj who denied Serbia the chance to be involved in the investigation for Ivanovic’s murder. He called this behavior “completely unacceptable”. “This reaction of the key Pristina institutions clearly indicates that there is no desire to find the killers and punish them”.