According to the EU, a continued dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade is the only way to normalise Kosovo and Serbia relations.
By Bojana Milovanovic and Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Belgrade and Pristina -- 09/02/13
The operation of parallel institutions in northern Kosovo is one of the outstanding issues between Belgrade and Pristina. [AFP]
As several practical issues are coming to a close between Belgrade and Pristina, the status of northern Kosovo remains an outstanding obstacle that the EU said will only be solved through the ongoing dialogue between the two countries.
The EU said three dialogues are needed.
"One between Pristina and Belgrade, another between Pristina authorities and the Serbs in the north, and the third between Serbs from both sides of the Ibar River," Stojan Pelko, spokesperson for the Kosovo EU office, told SETimes.
"The only lasting solution is the one on which both parties will agree. So this responsibility lies with the parties in the dialogue. The solution to this issue needs to be a genuine Kosovo solution, not modelled after other examples," Pelko said.
Kosovo Albanians insist that the solution for Kosovo north be based on the Ahtisaari Plan that was the basis for the proclamation of Kosovo independence, but Kosovo Serbs and Belgrade refuse.
Kosovo Serbs held a protest rally on January 30th reiterating they do not recognise Pristina institutions, and demanding that Belgrade guarantees the implementation of the agreements reached in Brussels so far.
Labinot Greicevci, executive director of RIDEA Institute in Kosovo, said the peaceful implementation of the Ahtisaari principles is the best, and potentially the only, viable and long-term solution for the northern Kosovo conundrum.
"In essence, the Ahtisaari package is also the only scenario and plan which is in line with European values and the concept of constitutional patriotism, which forms the basis of the European edifice," Greicevci told SETimes.
The solution, however, continues to hinge on the parallel institutions in northern Kosovo.
Slobodan Samardzic, vice president of Serbia's Democratic Party, thinks Serbia should maintain its institutions in northern Kosovo at all cost, as they are crucial for defending Serbia's national and state interests, and of the Kosovo north Serbs.
"Any other solution that would represent institutions in an independent Kosovo would be disastrous for Serbs and Serbia, which would thereby give up on a portion of its territory. Serbia must keep those institutions," Samardzic told SETimes.
In a January meeting with EU special representative in Kosovo Samuel Zbogar, western ambassadors and international representatives, Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said that Serbia returned to the old scenario of division and exchange of territories.
"I don't have to remind about catastrophic results that the tendency for border changes in the Balkans would produce. For that, your quick and clear declaration of this issue is indispensable," Thaci said.
Oliver Ivanovic, former Kosovo ministry state secretary, said that in systemic terms, the north will always be different. "Thaci's cabinet must understand that and find a legal platform to fit the north. The north will not secede from the rest of Kosovo, but Kosovo cannot secede from Serbia either," Ivanovic said.