The Gordian Knot Of The Balkans: What Is The Kosovo Issue?

A clash of power politics, international order and national myths are playing out in the Western Balkans

9 March 2023

Jan Farfał

Marcin Król Fellow

Beyond the surface, the Kosovo issue is a universal reflection of the fundamental disunity of principles guiding our societies: the right to national self-determination vs sovereignty and state non-interference in other states’ activities.

The publication of the Franco-German proposal for resolving the dispute over Kosovo confirmed earlier speculations – whereas the rights of the Serbs in Kosovo promised under the Brussels Agreement are being upheld, Serbia is expected to de facto recognise Kosovo’s independence.

Serbia, therefore, feels cornered with President Vučić acknowledging that he understands Berlin and Paris will be unlikely to alter their proposal while openly threatening to withdraw EU investments. Nevertheless, Serbia is willing to negotiate (and probably even implement) most of the proposal, except for two crucial points: under no circumstances will Serbia accept Kosovo’s membership in the United Nations or recognise its statehood, at least under the current conditions of the proposal. There is a very broad political consensus regarding the latter issue.

Yet again, we see rising tensions surrounding the Kosovo question, with a never-ending dispute between Kosovo Albanians and the Serbian minority.

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Jan Farfał

Marcin Król Fellow

Marcin Król Fellow 2022/2023 at Visegrad Insight and a Doctoral candidate in Area Studies (Russia and East Europe) at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. His project examines the ways in which émigré journals addressed their home societies behind the Iron Curtain. He is a Researcher in the project ‘Europe in a Changing World’, led by Professor Timothy Garton Ash and Professor Paul Betts, at the European Studies Center at the University of Oxford.

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