The two Prime Ministers signed a “First Agreement in Principle on the Normalisation of Relations” in Brussels. The short 15-point text is the first bilateral agreement between Serbia and its former province; As the title suggests, it is unlikely to be the last. Oddly enough, no government published it, although a so-called authentic version quickly leaked to the Pristina press. The speech by Serbian President Aleksandar Vuéié at the opening of the Office of the International Development Financial Corporation (DFC) in Belgrade illustrates the importance of the agreement signed in Washington and the beginning of a new era of political and economic relations between Serbia and the United States. “This is an important day for us. We have already ended our trade relations with the United States in 1881 and since then we have not had such an important agreement,” Vuéié said, adding: “Serbia will respect the obligations under the agreement signed in Washington on September 4, 2020. Wherever Americans want to invest, the U.S. Development Agency is there, and things are happening. We are proud that the CFL is opening its office here and that it has the full support of the Republic of Serbia. What did Vuéié do to get a pass from Europe? Its main achievement was to abandon Serbia`s ambitions, to govern the Serb-majority territory in Kosovo and to declare itself ready to partially lift its veto on Kosovo`s accession to international organizations. These are big steps that a former nationalist has struggled to take. As a result, Kosovo could sign a stabilisation and association agreement with the EU and have its own international telephone code.
Yet Kosovo is still excluded from the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, and the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has stalled. Serbia does not have a formal veto over Kosovo`s accession to these bodies, but other states, in particular Russia, support and impose Belgrade`s wishes. Kosovo Serbs have forced Kosovo Serbs to join Kosovo government institutions at local and national levels, but it retains full control of their elected representatives who regularly make pilgrimages to receive instructions. In a ruthless provocation that almost led to armed clashes at the border, Serbia painted the first train that was to serve the two countries in national colours and with the slogan “Kosovo is Serbia”. On 14 October 2020, the Serbian government occupied and operated the Merdare border post on the Serbian-Kosovar border.  However, some public reactions to these more serious accusations have been of concern, including attempts to challenge the legitimacy of the specialized chambers and allegations that they are politically motivated. Specialized chambers and the bar are an integral part of Kosovo`s judicial system, with mandates that are essential for the rule of law in that country and its future. With a narrow majority, Mr. Hoti`s government faces strong parliamentary resistance and widely divergent priorities among coalition partners. After just over 100 days in power, constant disagreements between the constituent parties and difficulties in reaching compromises have hampered and delayed their responses in critical areas. On 19 October 2020, the governments of Serbia and Kosovo concluded a draft agreement to establish a joint committee to search for the remains of some 1,600 ethnicAlly-born Albanians and Serbs who have disappeared since the 1998-1999 Kosovo conflict.  The agreement provides for the creation of an “association/community of the majority municipalities of Serbia.” [fn] See the report of the crisis group Serbia and Kosovo: the path to normalization.
Hide Footnote The dual name is another sign of difficulties: for Serbia, it is a Zajednica (Union or Community) of municipalities, an administrative unit newly created by the agreement, whereas for Kosovo it is only an inter-communal association that already exists to help local governments coordinate and exchange their skills.