July Update

Quarantine has a way of making time fly. It’s hard to believe that there are only two weeks of my internship left. Though it is sad to think about everything I would have seen and done in Pristina by this point, I am very appreciative of the fact that my remote status and the narrow focus of my work has allowed me to learn so much about Kosovo’s recognition campaign, and about the field of state recognition in general.

I’ve found the past couple weeks of researching and writing to be particularly rewarding. Now that I have covered the background and introductory sections of my paper, my focus has shifted to the more analytical sections, allowing me to put the information that I have learned to use. I’m now concentrating my research on Serbia’s derecognition campaign, which has succeeded in persuading a number of countries to withdraw their recognition of Kosovo’s independence. Though Kosovo appeared to have momentum on its side, having secured many recognitions in the years following its 2008 declaration of independence, the last few years have seen more derecognitions than recognitions, turning the tide in Serbia’s favor. The effects of this derecognition campaign are far-reaching and are still being understood, making it a challenging but intriguing topic to study. Luckily, my primary contact at Democracy for Development has put me in touch with an expert on state recognition, who will be able to talk me through a lot these issues should I be fortunate enough to interview them.

As for an update on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, EU-hosted talks began on Thursday, July 16, in Brussels. The talks marked the first time the two sides had sat down together in almost two years. Because Hashim Thaci, the President of Kosovo, was indicted for war crimes dating back to his days as a Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) leader, Kosovo is being represented by Avdullah Hoti, the country’s Prime Minister. Some believe this change is a loss for the dialogue, as Hoti has less diplomatic experience than Thaci, who has long been the face of the Kosovo delegation in its talks with Serbia.

Serbia’s President, Aleksander Vucic, was unhappy with how the Brussels meeting began, characterizing Hoti’s approach to the exchange as ‘blackmail.’ Despite this, there were some ostensibly positive developments; Serbia has said it is prepared to help locate displaced and missing Kosovo-Albanians so long as Kosovo is willing to do the same for the Serbs who suffered the same fate. There have also been more rumors about a land-swap that would see Kosovo trade regions inhabited by Serbs in exchange for territory currently owned by Serbia. Many are concerned that a land-swap is not conducive to long-term peace and sets a dangerous precedent for other similar disputes around the world. The Brussels dialogue will resume this coming week and another summit is being planned for September.