BELGRADE – Chasing impossible dreams has driven Serbia and Kosovo into a corner. A return to armed conflict may be impossible – at least for now – given NATO’s military presence in Kosovo (though it will be halved in the next few months to only 5,000 troops). But the lack of effort on all sides to find a lasting compromise to the dispute over Kosovo’s independence threatens to undermine much of the progress made in the Western Balkans towards stability and democracy.
An opening for talks between Serbia and Kosovo was created by a joint European Union-Serbia resolution at the United Nations, which sets out a framework for dialogue. This was a triumph for the EU’s foreign-policy chief, High Representative Baroness Catherine Ashton, who secured the backing of EU member states (even from the five that do not recognize Kosovo’s independence), the United States, and both Serbia and Kosovo.