Weller: The Crunch-point at the Upcoming Ohrid Negotiations on Normalization

Article 7, or indeed the entire Basic Agreement, does not mention the term Association/Community of Serb-majority municipalities at all, not with one single word. That concept has now been modified by what sounds like the more modest reference to ‘self-management’ for the Serbian community in Kosovo. In the final version of Article 7, the term ‘self-management’ replaces the words ‘self-government’ in the initial proposal for the Basic Agreement, emphasizing the more modest functions that are envisaged.

This coming weekend the high-pressure negotiations on normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia will continue. At the end of February, the parties already accepted the Preamble and 11 substantive Articles of the Basic Agreement as the final text that will no longer be negotiated. However, the next step remains a crucial one: reaching agreement on provisions on implementation of the Articles in an annex which will be considered an integral part of the instrument. The Basic Agreement will only be complete, and ready for formal signature, once that task has been achieved.

It is by now generally understood that this agreement will only represent a step on the ‘path’ to full normalization. It would not yet amount to formal, mutual recognition of the two states. Yet, it would clarify that Serbia and Kosovo would treat each other according to international law, including the principle of sovereign equality of states, the prohibition of threats and uses of force and the obligation to settle all disputes peacefully.