Savkovic: NATO doors will be hard to open for Kosovo without progress in the dialogue with Belgrade

Marko Savković
Source: Kosovo Online

The doors of NATO will be difficult to open for Pristina if there is no progress in the fundamental issue, which is the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Marko Savkovic, senior advisor at the ISAC Fund, told Kosovo Online.

He does not believe that Kosovo’s membership in NATO is possible and reminds that NATO makes decisions by consensus and that there are four member states of the Alliance that do not recognize Kosovo's independence.

"It is also not possible to move forward in this accession process now, as there are some intermediate steps, such as the Action Plan for membership. It is possible to perhaps intensify exercises, provide greater support in the process of defense system reforms, or the security sector, but I do not believe that this can become an 'avenue' for further strengthening Kosovo's statehood or sovereignty," Savkovic emphasized.

According to him, there are at least two fundamental principles or issues at stake.

"One concerns the fact that certain countries have not recognized Kosovo as an independent state, and the other concerns the current NATO mission in Kosovo, KFOR, which is there, albeit in a somewhat reduced capacity, to prevent instability and conflict. Some of these countries participate in this mission," our interlocutor reminded.

He does not dispute that cooperation can be intensified in terms of capacity building and adds that NATO certainly does this through various programs, but he disagrees with the idea of opening the doors for Pristina to join the Alliance.

"It seems to me that these doors – I won't say they are closed, but they are hard to open if there is no progress in the fundamental issue, which is the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina," Savkovic assessed.

Furthermore, he believes that Pristina will face the same obstacles for potential NATO membership as for entering the Council of Europe.

"If you look at the statements made by the outgoing NATO Secretary General, he always highlights the importance of achievements, i.e., progress in dialogue. So, I do not think these things are separate or can be separated, just as stabilizing the situation cannot be separated from dialogue. So, we all know that a solution must be sought through dialogue. The alternative is imposed solutions that can only be imposed by force – without delving into which side that force might come from – and that is the worst scenario for everyone, including NATO," Savkovic concluded.

He notes that the Alliance itself, which has another major priority and problem – the war in Ukraine, on which it wants to focus – does not need another hotspot in its backyard.