Belgrade and Pristina may have brokered a “partial solution” regarding IDs. According to the sources The Pavlovic Today spoke to, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic may talk more about this at his press conference on Saturday, in Belgrade.
A “partial solution” on IDs, sources explain, may reduce the existing tensions for a few weeks but is still far from the solution everyone hopes for. On Friday, speaking to The Pavlovic Today, Richard Grenell came forward with a specific idea for how the Biden White House can move the needle in brokering the deal between Belgrade and Pristina.
“If recognizing license plates is too hard now, then demand recognition of IDs to start,” Grenell shared his advice for President Biden.
“Kurti, without any doubt, will move forward with the pre-registration of the license plates on September 1, 2022, but if he does not place the ban on the ‘KM’ license plates until October, there is a 60 days window for a license plates solution to be found,” a source familiar with PM Kurti’s thinking told The Pavlovic Today.
If a solution for IDs, at least a partial one, is brought forth before September 1, 2022, then “that same model can be applied to the license plates” according to the source with direct knowledge of Serbia-Kosovo negotiations.
The possibility of this partial solution represents a major change in the tenor of Serbia-Kosovo negotiations. The most recent talks between Belgarde and Pristina saw an apparently inescapable deadlock develop and hope for mutually acceptable solutions wane. Now, however, according to our sources, a cautious optimism prevails among those involved in the Serbia-Kosovo talks–yet, for both parties, a real, solid step in the right direction still feels like a step too far.
The partial solution, which is expected to be announced as early as tomorrow, would only be a stopgap, and do nothing to solve the underlying issues driving the fractious situation. Our sources say it will only “delay the looming crisis” until October.
Sources in Brussels who also agreed to talk to The Pavlovic Today said that there is a “big international pressure” to “delay the crisis” for a month or two.
Those with direct knowledge of the state of the play in Serbia-Kosovo talks revealed to The Pavlovic Today that the next round of direct, high-level talks between PM Kurti and Serbian President Vucic “won’t happen anytime soon.”
THE PAVLOVIC TODAY SPECIAL COVERAGE: SERBIA-KOSOVO TALKS
Even if it could make the difference, the US appear reluctant to step in and intervene. A source in DC said that this is because “the US does not want any confrontation with the Germans,” adding that Escobar was sent to Belgarde and Pristina to “put out an immediate fire” as “no one wants to deal” with a flare up in the Balkans while there is a hot war ongoing in Ukraine, and a general climate of geopolitical tension.
But our sources from the delegations were emphatic that strong US involvement is what is needed, and further, that despite their official reserve, the US State Department is following the situation very closely. One source from one of the delegations told us the State Department is “intimately aware and knows that the US direct involvement is needed and indispensable.”
Another source was even more direct. “There won’t be any comprehensive solution regarding Kosovo without an active US engagement at the highest level of the US government,” they told The Pavlovic Today.
Serbia-Kosovo Talks: The gap in understanding
Reacting to Deputy Assistant Secretary Gabriel Escobar‘s comment, made in Belgrade to local Serbian media N1, that Serbs have to “move away from the narrative that Kosovo is Serbia,” a source who agreed to speak to The Pavlovic Today on condition of anonymity said that Escobar’s statement “illustrates the gap in understanding on Kosovo’s status between the Serbian and the US administration.”
This gap regarding, our source added, also exists between the US and the UN, of which “Serbia is a member, including the Kosovo territory, under the UN Resolution 1244.” The United States formally recognized Kosovo as an independent country on February 18, 2008 but Kosovo has thus far not achieved full member status at the United Nations.
The source said that Serbia is only “respecting the territorial integrity of its own country” and emphasized that Serbia has respected “the territorial integrity of every other county in every other instance in global affairs.”
The statement Escobar made in Belgrade, the Serbian minority in Kosovo found “hurtful” “inconsiderate” and “cruel” given that they feel a deep historical and cultural connection to Kosovo and the fact “there is no international consensus that Kosovo is independent of Serbia.”
For those Serbs, their cultural identity with Kosovo is “not a narrative” as Escobar claims, “but a historical fact.”