Recent tensions between Kosovo and Serbia in the northern part of Kosovo have brought the attention of the wider international community to this frozen conflict in the heart of Europe. However, an EU facilitated and UN mandated dialogue has been going on for more than 12 years. While branded as the process that will bring Kosovo and Serbia closer to the EU, during these years, the dialogue has produced a substantial number of crises, alongside some successes. Highly contested in both Kosovo and Serbia, instead of bringing both countries and the Western Balkans closer to the EU, Kosovo and Serbia have achieved to balkanize the dialogue process.
Over the years, a lot has been written, both academically and in the wider policy discussion circles, about the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. However, the focus of majority of these papers has been on the overall enabling context or the failures of specific policies, either on the side of the European Union or on the side of the parties (Kosovo and Serbia).
The focus of this research is on the role of the EU facilitators on the dialogue process. It would be an attempt to “process-trace” the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia focusing on the facilitators, their beliefs, their decisions and the impact of these on the outcomes (or lack thereof).
Starting with Baroness Cathy Ashton, through HRVP Federica Mogherini to HRVP Joseph Borell and SR Miroslav Lajcak the dialogue process underwent a series of adjustments, changes and new approaches. While at the beginning the idea of focusing on technical issues was the mantra of the day, during Mogherini time the focus shifted to achieving the final agreement first, just to go back to a “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” approach under Borrell/Lajcak. Tracing and contextualizing the changes in approach of the facilitators could prove useful in describing and understanding the outcomes of the dialogue process between Kosovo and Serbia.