US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, March 23, encouraged both Serbia and Kosovo to sign the current normalization agreement that has been discussed and annexed since February, adding that this would likely influence EU countries that have not recognized Kosovo as an independent state.
“It’s certainly an issue we continue to raise,” Blinken said, according to Balkan media, including the Albanian Daily News, “but I also think that this agreement, if it goes forward, actually puts us on a path toward recognition by these countries.”
EU countries that do not recognize Kosovo include Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania, and Greece.
Blinken added that “the fact that these countries (Kosovo and Serbia) have reached the agreement, and assuming that they will implement it, this will push them towards recognition.”
Blinken’s statements, however, appeared at odds with current facts and opened up further arguments in Serbia for those opposing full normalization. With regard to the latter, his mention of the five EU countries who have still failed to recognize Kosovo as a state in fact bolster’s Serbian opposition, which has criticized German and French efforts to push normalization and noted that in fact there is not unanimity within the EU.
Then there is the difficult point that Kosovo and Serbia in fact have not signed off on the agreement, despite a round of negotiations over the March 18-19, which were focused on a key annex and “implementation.” In fact, Vucic—while stating that he would like to see at least some levels of normalization go forward—has been extremely careful with his even public statements, nothing that international law could interpret an oral statement as signing off on a treaty. But in fact he has gone further, stating that he is unwilling to sign any legal agreement with Kosovo, as this would also de facto recognize Kosovo as an independent state, which he is unwilling to do—calling this a red line and also noting that Serbia is opposed to Kosovo’s recognition by the UN.
A sticking point remains in Kosovo’s failure to create a previously agreed upon Community of Serb Municipalities in North Kosovo (CSM), with Serbia skeptically greeting references to the Kosovo Constitution as eventually overriding such a concept.
Photo of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken by U.S. Embassy Nigeria, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.