Tuesday

27th Sep 2016

Ambivalent acronym highlights EU problems on north Kosovo

  • Posters thanking the EU for its help in an Albanian district in Serb-dominated north Kosovo (Photo: morbin)

Fudged language in a new agreement on north Kosovo shows how far the EU still has to go in its bid to normalise the most explosive place in the Balkans.

An EU press release over the weekend - entitled "EU facilitated dialogue: Agreement on IBM" - noted that Kosovo and Serbia have clinched a deal designed to get Kosovar Serbs to stop shooting Kosovar Albanian police and Nato soldiers at roadblocks in the disputed region. A related internal document - "IBM Agreed Conclusions" - set out some practical details.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"IBM" usually stands for "Integrated Border Management" - the title of an official EU blueprint on how to handle customs and immigration in former Yugoslavia.

The two texts on north Kosovo mention "IBM" nine times but do not spell out the acronym at any point.

EUobserver understands the fudge is meant to let Kosovo and the 22 EU countries which recognise it read "IBM" in the usual sense. But it lets Serbia and the five non-recognising EU countries say it refers to "boundary management" because the word "border" implies statehood.

The distortion of the English language in the service of conflict management is again highlighted in the press release.

It says "parties reached an agreement on ... integrated management for crossing points (IBM)" - using "IBM" instead of "IMCP" to stand for the words "integrated management for crossing points."

The IBM Agreed Conclusions document also leaves room for confusion.

It says Kosovar and Serb police will have a "balanced presence" at checkpoints and that "exceptionally ... the parties will not display symbols of their respective jurisdictions." But details on implementation - which parts of north Kosovo it covers, how many police from each side, how to search cars - remain to be worked out by a "tri-partite implementation group, chaired by the EU" which will draft a "technical protocol" and "identify ... projects."

Serbia agreed the border deal to try to get EU candidate status at the EU summit this week.

Its chief negotiator on north Kosovo, Boris Stefanovic, on Sunday tried to sell the idea to people on the ground. "It does not imply a recognition of Kosovo and it would be good if the [Serb] citizens of northern Kosovo would stand behind their state [Serbia] at this moment ... From now on a great responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Serb leaders in north Kosovo," he told local media.

Germany - backed by Austria, Denmark, Finland and the UK - intends to put off the decision until the EU summit in March, however.

The three-month lag would test Serbia's will to implement changes. It would also let the EU give Serbia candidate status in time to boost Serb President Boris Tadic - the EU's top ally in Belgrade - in elections in May.

Serbia earlier this month tried to prove itself by arresting two men - NGO workers Momcilo Arlov and Vuk Mitrovic - in a car full of AK47s, anti-tank mines and plastic explosives bound for north Kosovo. The move backfired when the men told press they were smuggling the weapons on behalf of Serbian police, however.

Analysis

Serbia and the convenient spy

The manufactured cold war between Croatia and Serbia has been a convenient distraction from some of Serbia's domestic problems.

Opinion

EU's Kosovo meddling risks Balkans chaos

The EU and the US are is unfairly pressuring Kosovo to ratify a border deal with Montenegro against the will of the opposition. It could bring trouble to the Western Balkans region.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  2. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  3. Martens CentreQuo Vadis Georgia? What to Expect From the Parliamentary Elections. Debate on 29 September
  4. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List
  5. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  6. HuaweiAn Industry-leading ICT Solution Provider and Building a Better World
  7. World VisionUN Refugees Meeting a Wasted Opportunity to Improve the Lives of Millions of Children
  8. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?
  9. YouthProAktivEntrepreneurship, Proactivity, Innovation - Turn Ideas Into Action #IPS2016
  10. GoogleTrimming the Waste-Line: Weaving Circular Economy Principles Into Our Operations
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeDon't Miss the Mega Conference to Master Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. ACCAKaras Report on Access to Finance for SMEs in a Capital Markets Union

Latest News

  1. Why Putin's union doesn't want to work with the EU
  2. Charges await Danes and Germans for helping refugees
  3. EU migrant quota idea is finished, Fico says
  4. Finland calls for 'pragmatic' EU defence cooperation
  5. MEPs push for oversight on commissioners
  6. EU and US in talks on car emissions cheats
  7. Hollande warns UK not to abandon Calais obligations
  8. Spy agencies launch 'real-time' terror tracker