After the EU and the US, Turkey and Great Britain are actively involved in Belgrade-Pristina relations: Will their interference bring more harm than good?

Dijalog - ilustracija
Source: Ekonomia Online

At a time when the "landing" of Western diplomats in Belgrade and Pristina is expected to finally start the deadlocked dialogue between the two sides, other major powers are also appearing that want to make their contribution to calming tensions in the region. One of them is Turkey, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of the few leaders who can boast of more than good relations with both Pristina and Belgrade, Blic newspaper writes.

Erdogan stated that he was committed to easing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, as well as resolving the political impasse in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Erdogan is preparing for elections in June

The "Euractiv" website interprets such a statement as an attempt by the Turkish president to better position himself as a diplomat and world statesman before the presidential elections in June to increase his chances of winning at the polls.

Almost at the same time, British officials are increasingly engaged in mediating between Belgrade and Pristina. So David Lammy, Labour's spokesman for foreign affairs, was among the European and American diplomats who visited the capital of Serbia and Pristina in order to assess and ease the tense situation.

The Labour Party is worried about the situation in Kosovo

In Pristina, Lammy met with the Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and the Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani.

"The situation is very worrying, but I think both sides are open to dialogue and want to ensure that there is no return to bloodshed. It is obvious that we need to ensure that and that the dialogue between the two sides continues," Lammy said.

Considering all that, the question arises why are other major powers involved in the mediation between Belgrade and Pristina in addition to the US and Great Britain?

Nothing unusual in the diplomatic world

Igor Novakovic, a researcher at the International and Security Affairs Centre (ISAC), believes that it is nothing unusual that Turkey and Great Britain were involved in solving the Kosovo issue.

"In addition to the war in Ukraine, the situation in Kosovo is recognized as the most serious matter that could escalate and turn into an open conflict. Therefore, it is quite logical that almost all major powers want to contribute to calming tensions and profit politically. When I say profit, I don't think anything negative but that they want to increase their visibility and contribute to peace in the region," Novakovic said for Blic newspaper.

He specifically referred to the role of Turkey.

"Erdogan's behavior with Belgrade and Pristina is interesting, especially since Turkey is trying to mediate on its own, and was one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo's independence. Regardless, Erdogan has unusually good relations with Belgrade, so he wants the situation in Kosovo and to use the war in Ukraine for his political goals and to make a point," Novakovic analyzed.

Great Britain lost influence after Brexit?

As he says, Great Britain, on the other hand, has lost much of its previous influence in international relations by leaving the European Union.

"Nevertheless, British officials believe that they still influence the Western Balkans. Certainly Great Britain, as a member of the Quinte, is interested in the events in the Western Balkans," concludes Novaković.

Many players can complicate the situation

Director of the Center for Regionalism Aleksandar Popov, on the other hand, claims that the involvement of an increasing number of great powers in the relations between Belgrade and Pristina can be analyzed from two angles.

"On the one hand, any help is welcome, and on the other hand, too many cooks spoil the broth. If there is already a preliminary plan for solving the Kosovo issue made by the EU with the support of the US, it is not clear why other powers are getting involved now. Especially since the EU and the US have proven so far to be the two factors that have the strongest role and influence on Belgrade and Pristina," Popov says.

He recalls that ten years ago, Erdogan even "claimed Kosovo", so he wonders "why would he get involved in the whole story now".

"On the other hand, Great Britain has always been an outpost of the US in Europe, especially since Brexit. That is why it will certainly have to synchronize its role in mediating between Belgrade and Pristina with the US. That is why I think it would be best if the US and the EU deal with this issue, which until now acted as mediators because many players can completely complicate the already complex relations between Belgrade and Pristina," Popov concludes.