If an agreement is reached, both negotiators will declare success. Vučikal controls right-wing movements in Serbia. With a deal in his pocket, he hopes to win some of his opponents. Kosovo`s Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti, would strengthen his position ahead of the next round of elections, but only if he manages to implement steps towards Serbia`s recognition of Kosovo, which is an important task. Everything else, without strong support from the homeland, could cause him to lose the elections. Its position is therefore weaker. Over the past 20 years, the European Union and the United States have repeatedly tried to force both sides to reach an agreement. Much has been achieved thanks to the Brussels agreement in 2013 and subsequent agreements in 2015. The Serbian president has pacified the right by giving them power, fragmenting opposition and silencing a potential workers` revolt, selling Bor and Smederevo businesses to Chinese investors. For the time being, he has managed to find a successful balance between the interests of the EU, Russia and the United States.
The leaders of the North are still stunned by Belgrade`s move, which has totally surprised them. They still have to digest their effects, and early reactions have an obvious resemblance to the five stages of grief: denial, anger, negotiation, and some signs of depression and acceptance. They seem to hope that the deal will die without their collaboration, but they don`t really have a plan. One day, if Belgrade starts putting them under pressure, the people of northern Kosovo will face difficult decisions. Their preference – the status quo, ignoring Pristina and integrating it largely into the Serbian system – is no longer possible. There are many things belgrade can do, starting with money (reduction or elimination of bonuses, reduction of posts) and dissolution of local governments under the pretext and their replacement by more sophisticated staff, arrest of important local leaders under real or invented charges, closure of different offices and even the “nuclear option” of closing the two main employers. the university and the medical center. The limiting factors are legal (as in many ex-communist states, workers have many rights and are difficult to fire) and political (they do not want to cause a televised exodus, not even a small one). One of the ironic components of this story is that Serbia is probably implicitly encouraged by the EU to violate its own laws to make it all work, as it would take much longer to do it properly – to change all relevant laws and regulations – than Brussels prefers.
To implement the agreement, both countries must amend the relevant legislation. Either may have to amend their constitutions. Questions must be made public, Members must take a stand. The early signs are not encouraging. Kosovo`s Assembly approved the deal after a tough night meeting with furious denunciations from the opposition Vetëvendosje (self-determination) party, whose supporters gathered outside the legislature. . . .