The EU's soft power may significantly aid Kosovo-Serbia reconciliation.
By Linda Karadaku for the Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 06/03/13
EU integration is the only way to bring about lasting peace between Serbia and Kosovo, European Parliament Rapporteur Urlike Lunacek said. [Laura Hasani/SETimes]
Kosovo and Serbia are making progress in normalising relations and should look to the history of reconciliation in other countries as a guide to achieving lasting peace, according to Ulrike Lunacek, European Parliament rapporteur for Kosovo.
"There are plenty of examples in history where warring states achieved a stable peace and even became partners," Lunacek told SETimes in an exclusive interview.
Lunacek said she is hopeful a peace agreement can be reached. "[If not,] all peace efforts would have been doomed to fail from the beginning," she said.
The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue resumed after Serbia's elections last year, and have been characterised by EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton as yielding astonishingly positive results compared to Serbia's former government, Lunacek said.
Serbia's new government has since proceeded with the integrated border management agreement -- a visible, yet difficult, step.
"Accepting border stations is an important step towards recognition," Lunacek said.
The EU-mediated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia is a good example the Union's soft power, Lunacek said.
"[T]he only hope lies in the process of European integration, and the normalisation and harmonisation of relations among the peoples of the region that it may encourage. EU's soft power may gradually have an impact on transforming public and private memories that have, in the past, tended to point ultimately towards war," Lunacek said.
In its 2012 progress report, the European Commission provided Kosovo with a real and palpable accession prospect, including a feasibility study for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA).
"EU member states should follow the commission's proposal and give the green light for the start of the SAA negotiations as soon as Kosovo has complied with the necessary benchmarks," Lunacek said.
Jerry Gallucci, former UN administrator in Kosovo's north, agrees, but said a resolution yielding lasting peace requires special arrangements in the north and continued EU involvement in the development of a multi-ethnic democracy in Kosovo.
"Real peace in Kosovo and a continued European commitment to the Balkans that includes working with the region to bring it into EU would consolidate the progress made so far," Galluci told SETimes.