By Nicasia Picciano, PhD, @NicasiaPi ,
13 February 2024, dtt-net.com – The participation of Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić in the UN Security Council session of 8th February must be a turning point for the EU`s policy towards Serbia and Kosovo. If marginal voices have been circulating about it being frivolous, the reality is quite another one. Rather, the EU should take the momentum for embarking on a paradigm shift without delays.
Kurti and Vučić have been face to face for the first time in the UNSC. The special session has been called by Belgrade following Kosovo`s ban on cash operations in the Serbian dinar. In concrete, the Central Bank of Kosovo issued a regulation on cash operations in non-Euro currencies entering into force on February 1st.
Serbia has accused Kosovo of undermining Serbs` daily lives in the northern municipalities by banning cash payments in dinar. In the practice, though, the regulation`s purposes are about everything, but not to undermine people`s lives. Rather, they aim to: advance and define the regulatory standards for the professional performance of the tasks of financial institutions in the area of cash operations, including the control of amount of money in circulation, the protection of the integrity of the financial system, the fight against counterfeit money, consumer protection, the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing activities. The Central Bank`s regulation scope is to control cash transfer and financial-related activities of the Central Bank itself, other banks, branches of foreign banks and other financial institutions, licensed to carry out banking and/or financial activities in the Republic of Kosovo.
At the recent UN Security Council meeting Kosovo has been clear about that the regulation does nothing to prohibit or prevent the government of Serbia from providing financial support to Kosovo Serbs. The Regulation tries solely to guarantee transparency and legality of cash imported into Kosovo in line with its Constitution and the EU monetary policy. Shortly, the main reason behind the Central Bank`s regulation is to stop illegal cash entering the country as pursuant to Kosovo`s fight against corruption and organized crime.
Apart from the cash issue, Kosovo has also touched another key point in the Security Council, namely that the idea spread by Serbia about Kosovo carrying out an ethnic cleaning campaign against the Serbian minorities is a lie.
Kurti has behaved constructively by inviting Vučić at the UNSC`s recent meeting to finally sign the Basic agreement reached, under the aegis of the EU-Facilitated Dialogue, between the two parties on February 2023. Yet, his pragmatism has been undervalued. His fellow brother, Edi Rama, has looked at the UNSC session as pointless, by stating that the Security Council is not the right venue to discuss anything related to Kosovo. Rama has been straightforward about that that Serbia and Kosovo should rather concentrate on the EU-Facilitated Dialogue and reach agreements making the daily life of ordinary people easier.
Yet, despite isolated views about the UNSC`s meeting being meaningless, Kurti`s speech has stressed the government’s continuous efforts to build a multicultural and multiethnic state, where citizens are equal and benefit from the same protection. Also, it has marked a historical moment for strengthening Kosovo`s statehood. In fact, since its independence in 2008 no Kosovar prime minister has ever been sitting representing its population, or better said its own state, in the Security Council.
It is a dangerous paradox that the European Union keeps tolerating an authoritarian, while always pointing the finger to a democrat who has been contributing effortlessly to build a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic republic. The EU`s status quo stance is counterproductive and might turn to be fatal.
The EU must once and for all name things as they are and act accordingly. Vučić is not a partner to appease. He is an autocrat and Milosevic`s former propaganda minister aligning itself with Russia and representing the only country in Europe not imposing sanctions on Moscow following Putin`s invasion of Ukraine. What`s more, Serbia might have manipulated last December`s elections. And finally, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for an investigation into those elections.
Additionally, Serbia promotes genocide denialism and this cannot and must not be accepted. On the top of that, Serbia`s claims about Kosovo are a pure phantasy that cannot be tolerated. And the EU must not allow a second 24 September at any costs.
The list of Serbia`s wrongdoings is that corpulent not to justify any EU`s further myopic move. How far should Belgrade go, for Brussels to grasp that enough is enough?
The red line has been definitely surpassed and Serbia`s future membership must be kept on hold until concrete changes internally and with its neighbour are not duly undertaken.
Nicasia Picciano holds a Phd on European Union state-building in Kosovo from the University of Flensburg, Germany. She is the author of the book the European Union State-Building in Kosovo. Challenges and Lessons Learned: An Assessment of EULEX, Dr. Kovač, Hamburg. She has previously worked as a researcher for Kosovo Foundation for Open Society, Prishtina, Group for Legal and Political Studies, Prishtina and Balkans Policy Research Group, Prishtina. Currently, she covers the Western Balkans for Sbunker (Prishtina) and Le Courrier des Balkans (Paris). Her research interests span from peace- and state-building, reconciliation and ethnic conflict, cultural tourism, green energy transition, the Berlin Process and the Connectivity Agenda in Kosovo and the Western Balkans.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of dtt-net.com .