Six years after the first agreement on normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, Kosova Democratic Institute (KDI) estimates that the lack of full implementation of this agreement has failed to meet the expectations of citizens. This agreement, mediated by the European Union and signed by then Prime Minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci and Serbia’s Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, was ratified in the Kosovo Assembly on June 27, 2013 as an international agreement. This is the first and the only agreement ratified within the process of normalizing relations with Serbia. The same has not been ratified by the Serbian Parliament. Moreover, the Constitutional Court of Serbia described the Brussels Agreement as a political and non-legal issue, and therefore rejected the review of its constitutionality.
The “historic” agreement was an attempt by the EU to resolve the problems between the two states, while its 15 points aimed at regulating issues related to the Association / Association of Serb-majority Municipalities, the integration of security and justice structures, organizing local elections in the four northern municipalities of Kosovo, energy, telecommunications and relevant European paths.
Problems that have accompanied the implementation of the Agreement on Normalization of Relations, but also the majority of subsequent agreements, are:
1. Constructive Ambiguity – Agreements contain ambiguities that create space for different interpretations of certain aspects of the obligations envisaged by the parties. In the absence of an objective interpretation of the agreement by the EU, the parties have used the scope of the unilateral interpretation of the agreement, by choosing the mode of (its) implementation;
2. Lack of guarantee and oversight mechanisms – The EU’s focus has been to facilitate the achievement of agreements between the parties, but not to guarantee their implementation. This is reflected in the 2018 European Commission Enlargement Strategy, which addresses the need to reach agreements without emphasizing the implementation of the agreements reached so far. As a facilitating party to the dialogue, the EU has failed to force the parties to implement the agreements within the set timeframes. Consequently, the implementation of the agreements remained at the discretion of Kosovo and Serbia, which, in the absence of binding mechanisms, delayed the implementation of the agreements or did not implement them at all. As a result of delays in their implementation, certain parts of the agreements have also been renegotiated;
3. Lack of political will – As a sensitive political process, the lack of political will accompanying the dialogue process can be assessed at two levels: at the internal and bilateral level. At the internal level, political and social developments within the two states affected the low level of implementation of the agreements. At the bilateral level between the two states, the political implications that derive from the implementation of the agreement, beyond the technical aspect, have affected the parties, especially Serbia, to hesitate to implement the agreements;
4. Lack of transparency – has accompanied the process of dialogue since its beginning. This has contributed to the reduction of civic credibility to the process, but also to the lack of institutional co-ordination and political support for the various topics discussed;
Taking into account the abovementioned problems, but also the current developments related to the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI) provides the following recommendations:
1. The final agreement should not be written in the spirit of ambiguity – therefore it should clearly define the preservation of Kosovo’s statehood, including issues related to territorial integrity, unitary constitutional functioning of Kosovo, as well as international representation of Kosovo;
2. Broad Political Consensus – The State Delegation, created to represent Kosovo at the concluding stage of the dialogue, has not found broad support among the political spectrum. Achieving broad political consensus around this stage is key before reaching an eventual agreement;
3. Transparent process – Kosovo institutions, including the negotiating team, should ensure transparency of the process, keeping the Assembly, civil society and citizens informed of all developments related to the dialogue process;
4. Guarantees for the implementation of the agreements – The European Union and the US should have the guarantor role of the eventual agreement between the parties;
5. Deadlines for the implementation of the agreement – The eventual agreement should have strict implementation deadlines as well as punitive measures for non-enforcement parties;
6. The agreement must be registered with the UN Secretariat – A potential agreement, except that it should be ratified by the parliaments of both countries, should also be registered with the UN Secretariat (UNTC) as an international agreement, avoiding the various interpretations of the parties on its nature.