Kosovo today: between ancient hatreds and possible reconciliation

By Goda Šileikaitė | 24 October 2011

To quote this document: Goda Šileikaitė, “Kosovo today: between ancient hatreds and possible reconciliation”, Nouvelle Europe [en ligne], Monday 24 October 2011, http://www.nouvelle-europe.eu/node/1289, displayed on 08 December 2022

Vlora Çitaku the Minister for European Integration of Kosovo has already introduced herself as a very charming leader representing the younger political generation in Kosovo. One has to admit that this sounds really promising. Why does Kosovo need the European Union and what possible future prospects does it have today when the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia has become so edgy?

A headache for the EU?

V.Çitaku pointed out frankly at the relations between Kosovo and the European Union stating that Kosovo is challenging the EU at the moment. Kosovo is a test for the EU that will show how coherently the EU's foreign policy is being managed,-V.Çitaku put pressure on the EU adding that it is a solution to the present problems in Kosovo. The Minister explained that European integration is seen as the one and only possible way out from the endless conflict with Serbia.

It is can be generally accepted that Kosovo is a real test today for the unity of the Union. It could show how consistent the EU's foreign policy is. However, such insights bring more questions on the table than answers. It goes without saying, that European integration is no panacea to cure all the diseases that the bilateral relations between Kosovo and Serbia might produce. The EU is and will be present as a mediator in the round-table talks between Kosovo and Serbia, however, both must realise that today is their turn to make the decisions and concessions and no mediator will provide them with the solution.

Fragmented political image

"There are those who say that the EU is siding on Serbia's side in the talks", which creates a "win-zero situation", V.Çitaku commented on the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. According to her, this an example of the dialogue between the week and the strong, where Kosovo should be provided with the help from the European Union.

V.Çitaku points rightly in a way that the administrative apparatus in Kosovo is obviously not able to challenge the one in Serbia which is of a crucial importance if one wants to bargain well. The round-table talks in Brussels so far have showed that Kosovo is lacking a coherent position when it comes to European integration. Why is it so and who is to blame? Not V.Çitaku, for sure. There are two possible presumptions for such a situation.

The first one is the inconsistency of dealing with the European integration in general. If one has to answer who is the person, or should we say, which is the leading group that is mainly responsible in managing the issues in the area of integration, there might be more than one answer. Is this Edita Tahiri – the head of the Kosovan delegation in Brussels? Or is this V.Çitaku – the head of the Ministry for European integration? And what about Enver Hoxhaj – the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi? They all might have the same goal – the future prospect for Kosovo as a Member of the EU, yet their rhetorics somewhat differ. E. Tahiri was at some point repugnant while negotiating with Serbia in Brussels whereas V.Çitaku sees Serbia as an essential neighbour. And more than that, PM H.Thaçi shows no interest at all in creating bilateral relations between Kosovo and Serbia whatsoever.

The second one is the increasing opposition in Kosovo which is being led by the third largest political movement called "Vetëvendosje!", or "Self-determination" whose main slogan is "Jo Negociata" - "No negotiations". According to the results of the last parliamentarian elections, "Vetëvendosje!" gained more than 12% of the votes, though claiming that the corrupted electoral process did not show the reality. And the reality is indeed slightly different: it is estimated that more than 20,000 of its members belong to the "Vetëvendosje!" movement being able to organize protests with more than 60,000 people. Who are these people against? Both, either we deal with the EULEX – the European Union Rule of Law in Kosovo, or with the local politicians that are accused of being corrupt (and it is not so easy finding the arguments against this point). If, "Vetëvendosje!" representing the extreme nationalistic left wing is not decontaminated might cause further problems speaking of a probable growth of the electorate due to the general dissatisfaction of the politics in the country.

"Kosovo made a mistake, before the start of negotiations it should have required that Serbia recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state", V.Çitaku presents the predominant position of "Vetëvendosje!" in Kosovo. It is not the official position of the state of Kosovo, since the head of the negotiating team in Brussels, E. Tahiri, has clearly stated that the question of independence is a red-line for Kosovo and that it will under no circumstances discuss this issue with Serbia.

The wounds are still bleeding

According to the Minister for European integration, after years of oppression, Europe now means everlasting peace for Kosovo that will bring the feeling of security. "Kosovars were treated as second class citizens in Yugoslavia, so today we ask to be treated equally along with the other nations in Europe", remarked V.Çitaku. The Minister claimed that Kosovo respects European values, such as human rights, freedom and equality, and that it is ready to reopen the negotiations with Serbia in Brussels, which were overshadowed by the incidents in Northern Kosovo.

At one point, the Minister stops reading and puts the papers on the table giving a sincere glance to the audience. She starts speaking about the years spent in a high school, where she, as one of the most active members of the school society, was trying to paint the walls that were built to separate the Albanian and Serbian children. While asked what possible concessions could be made for Serbia in the bilateral negotiations if it recognizes the State of Kosovo, V.Çitaku cited Martti Ahtisaari known as an architect of the declaration of independence of Kosovo. "If the thief stoles your wallet, what will you do? Do you share the money with him? No, you take the wallet back", points out V.Çitaku.

On the other hand, the Minister for European integration supports Serbia’s path towards the EU claiming that the clear platform should be provided for Serbia and that European integration of both Serbia and Kosovo, depends on how successfully the regional cooperation is being managed.

It is very hard or practically impossible to reach reconciliation if the present dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia is based on the ancient hatreds remembering how one was oppressed by the other. The bloody history of the Balkans, in particular Yugoslavia, shows that building a house on the ruins of the previous one is not worth doing – it is always better to begin with building completely new foundations. However, it is not clear today whether both sides are ready to do that.