[Opinion] : C+ is not a good grade

Daniel Serwer - Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies


By Daniel Serwer,  @DanielSerwer , 

Washington, 18 March 2024, / – C+ is what I would give as a grade for implementation of the year-old “Agreement on the path to normalisation between Kosovo and Serbia.” It’s a B or B+ for Pristina and a C for Belgrade.

Let’s break it down article by article:

Good neighborly relations:

Certainly not in general, but there has been some limited progress on mutual recognition of their respective documents and national symbols, including passports, diplomas, license plates, and customs stamps. Pristina was never the problem. Belgrade has moved on this. B or B+ I guess.

Respect for the UN Charter:

Serbia fails (that’s an F) miserably on respect for “the sovereign equality of all States, respect for their independence, autonomy and territorial integrity.” Kosovo gets a B+, marked down due to continued shortcomings in protection of human rights and non-discrimination. Things are improving in those departments, but problems remain.

Peaceful settlement of disputes:

Serbia fails (F) on settlement of disputes exclusively by peaceful means and refraining from the threat or use of force. Belgrade sponsored the September 24 attempted uprising intended to create a pretext for the use of force, which it threatened by mobilizing its forces on Kosovo’s borders. Belgrade had also already kidnapped two Kosovo police from Kosovo territory and organized a mob that attacked NATO-led peacekeepers. Kosovo has no real option for use of force, but nevertheless gets an A for the police handling of the September 24 incident.

International representation:

Serbia (D) continues to oppose Kosovo’s membership in international organizations. Kosovo (A) has not to my knowledge objected to Serbia’s membership in them.

EU path:

Serbia (D) is no longer in transition to democracy and does not align with EU foreign policy, especially but not only on Ukraine and Russia. Kosovo (B+) is moving in the right direction on democracy and does respect EU foreign policy.

Dialogue process:

Neither Belgrade nor Pristina is much engaged, the former because it objects to the basic premises and the latter because it has gotten little benefit. C+ for both.

Treatment of the Serbian community in Kosovo:

Kosovo has conceded little on “self-management” but is resolving one important issue concerning Serbian Orthodox Church property at Decan/i. Pristina has muddied the waters on financial support from Belgrade by insisting on use of the euro but there is really no bar to direct communication for the Serbian community with the Kosovo government. B for Pristina, but no better than a C+ for Belgrade, which insists on violating Kosovo law in transferring finances opaquely and in dinars.

EU and others’ support package:

I really don’t know. Has it been created? Is anything happening on this front?

Joint Committee on implementation:

Is this just the Dialogue writ small, or has such a thing been created?


Daniel Serwer is a Professor of the Practice of Conflict Management as well as director of the Conflict Management and American Foreign Policy Programs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.    

This opinion was first published at website.                     

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of .   

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