Why is Osmani now calling the USA to get involved in drafting the Statute of the CSM?

Osmani i Eskobar
Source: Klan Kosova

After more than a decade of Kosovo authorities failing to fulfill the key obligation of the Brussels Agreement, the formation of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities, and Prime Minister Albin Kurti's persistent refusal to even consider this issue, President Vjosa Osmani has unexpectedly raised the topic of the CSM to the top of Pristina's political agenda, calling the United States to get involved in drafting the Community's Statute.

Kosovo Online's interlocutors are cautious about this sudden interest of Osmani in the CSM, especially given that her call for US assistance came after the tragic events in Banjska, the refusal of representatives of Kosovo authorities to continue dialogue with Belgrade, and with the message that the Statute must be "within the legal and constitutional framework of Kosovo", which has otherwise been the main stumbling block to unlock this issue.

Osmani's maneuver is also interpreted as another diversion from Pristina's obligations to de-escalate the situation in the north, one of the key steps insisted upon by the EU and the US is the formation of the CSM, in addition to the withdrawal of Kosovo special forces from the north and the organization of new elections in four Serb municipalities.

Ljubomir Maric, a member of the Serbian Parliament from Kosovo, stated that Washington's engagement could lead to results in the direction of forming the CSM only on the condition that it was implemented strictly in accordance with the agreements from Brussels in 2013 and 2015.

Maric, a former coordinator of the Management Team for drafting the Statute of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities, told Kosovo Online that "the implementation plan defined that the Management Team for the implementation of the Brussels Agreement would draft the Statute", and added that this document had already been presented in Brussels.

"So, there is no need for anyone to write any literary works here because we are not in a competition for the best student essay. This is about the future of the Serbs, and it is about implementing what has been signed, for which there is a guarantee from the EU as the third signatory to all agreements, it must be implemented exactly as agreed. No one can and should not be a student who will write a literary work in some student competition," Maric said.

He adds that representatives of Pristina, who always mention the Constitution of Kosovo, with the mediation, or guarantee of the EU, have signed, from their point of view, an international agreement, which is binding for them.

"The first point of the implementation plan is about harmonization, i.e., preparing the legal framework, and this is their domestic task. When they do that, this act will certainly be grounded in the legislation of the provisional self-governing institutions in Pristina," Maric emphasized.

Maric also emphasizes that the involvement of the international factor is welcome to ensure the implementation of the agreements reached and signed in Brussels.

"We certainly appreciate the assistance of anyone who is relevant, strong, and influential towards the authorities of the provisional institutions in Pristina to implement the agreement. The European Union has so far failed to do so, even though it is the guarantor of the agreements reached. Involving the United States in this direction, to implement exclusively what has been signed and how it has been signed in Brussels, will always be welcomed," Maric said.

He reminded that representatives of the Kosovo Serbs, the Government of Serbia, and President Aleksandar Vucic as the chief negotiator had all called for more active involvement of the international factor in fulfilling the obligations and forming the CSM so that what had been signed in Brussels could be implemented as agreed.

"So, the first Brussels Agreement, the Agreement on the Normalization of Relations between Belgrade and Pristina, was signed in 2013, and almost the entire agreement is about the formation of the CSM. The implementation plan, or what someone today calls a roadmap in some other agreements, envisages that point one is the harmonization of legal frameworks. What Pristina certainly needs to do first, and we hope that the US will support and assist in this direction to form the CSM, is to harmonize the legal framework, i.e., create conditions to implement the second part of the agreement, which are the principles for establishing the CSM, which detail all the competencies and how the CSM will function," Maric explains.

Milan Krstic, an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, assessed for Kosovo Online that with the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani’s call to the United States to be involved in drafting the Statute of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities, Pristina was trying to attribute the initiation of that issue to cooperation, with the calculation that Washington might support a CSM that was not initially envisioned by the agreements from 2013 and 2015.

However, Krstic emphasizes that the United States is currently an actor whose involvement in the negotiation process between Serbia and Kosovo would be desirable also for Belgrade.

"So, for the United States to get involved at a higher level in the negotiating process. However, if such a message, or call, came from Osmani, it is a kind of perception that Pristina could have a more flexible view from Washington on what the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities should be, compared to Brussels," Krstic believes.

He reminds that clear and unambiguous messages have come from Brussels that the CSM must be established in accordance with the agreements from 2013 and 2015.

"I think that the Americans will adopt the same stance, but it should be noted that within the somewhat more complex and heterogeneous US administration, there are different views on this issue. Osmani and other officials in Pristina hope that, due to all these events, they could get the green light to initiate the establishment of the CSM, which would not actually be what was initially envisioned. They want to present this as if they have made a concession on their part," Krstic says.

He adds that this is probably why Pristina insists on a greater role for the US.

"However, I repeat, this does not mean that the US would actually take such a stance. I believe that there are enough indications that it would also be in line with the EU, which is clear that the CSM must be formed in accordance with the agreement from 2013 and 2015, as Derek Chollet, Gabriel Escobar, and other officials have repeatedly stated, so I believe they will continue to follow that line," Krstic concluded.

Analyst Selatin Kllokoqi from Democracy Plus believes that it is realistic for the United States to be involved in drafting the Statute of the CSM and points out that this should have happened earlier.

"It should have been written with the United States earlier because almost nothing here happens without the US. However much the EU leads the talks, in the end, the United States comes in, and it is better to write it with the United States and then move it forward to the EU," Kllokoqi told Kosovo Online.

He believes that the problems facing Pristina and Belgrade, as well as the dialogue, cannot be solved without the United States.

According to him, the EU and the United States are working together on this, but the US plays the most significant role because, in Kllokoqi's opinion, Washington can find a solution for Kosovo and Serbia that would open the way for them to become EU members.

"The USA views both Serbia and Kosovo as future members of the EU and NATO alliance. It is the best option for Kosovo and Serbia, and it is best for stability. How difficult it is for Serbia to achieve that is another matter. But I think there are reasonable people in Serbia who know that, regardless of traditional ties with Russia, it must align itself with Europe, and almost all EU member states are also NATO members. In Europe, there has been almost no war for almost 100 years due to this economic and security alliance," Kllokoqi said.