September 14, 2018 Serbia

Serbian Students Doubtful About Deal on Kosovo

While some support a solution to the Kosovo dispute as a way for Serbia to move forward, others are hostile to concessions – and indifferent to the prospect of European Union membership.

Studenti Filozofskog fakulteta u Beogradu nastavili su danas protest u zgradi i ispred zgrade fakulteta trazeci da se smanje cene prijavljivanja ispita, jednogodisnje budzetsko finansiranje apsolvenata i da se studentima koji su fakultet upisali 2006. godine dozvoli da studije zavrse po programu iz te godine. (BETAPHOTO/MILOS MISKOV/DS)

Among youngsters in the Serbian capital, views range from staunch opposition to recognition of Kosovo’s independence to interest in an agreement. Photo: Beta

Mitjo Vaulasvirta

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While the European Union’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini says, she still expects Serbia and Kosovo to reach an agreement, tensions in the region remain acute some 20 years after NATO intervention forced Serbia to withdraw from its former province.

The long-term stakes in the negotiations are high for both parties, as a mutually agreeable settlement on Kosovo would unlock both countries’ paths towards EU membership.

Among youngsters in the Serbian capital, views range from staunch opposition to recognition of Kosovo’s independence to interest in an agreement – provided that Serbia gains full control over Serb-majority parts of northern Kosovo.

Some, but not many, are ready to reach any deal with Kosovo in order for Serbia to build a more prosperous future.

“Serbia should recognise Kosovo’s independence because our economy is failing,” reasoned Marija, a 21-year-old student at the Belgrade Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy.

“All the attention is on Kosovo, so other parts of Serbia have been forgotten,” she added.

She maintained that a failure to reach an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina would be a lost opportunity for Serbia to build a better life in its rural areas and small towns, which, according to the World Bank, have high poverty rates.

Not all Serbian students share Marija’s feeling of urgency about resolving Kosovo’s final status, however.

“A ‘frozen conflict’ is the solution,” suggested David, also 21, from the Faculty of Political Science.

“Right now we can only lose,” he added, insisting that Serbia should never recognise Kosovo’s independence.

“We should wait for Kosovo to lose the support of the international community,” agreed politics student, Aleksandar, 21, who spoke of Kosovo not in terms of years but of centuries.

“The Battle of Kosovo [with the Ottomans] took place in 1389 but we only reclaimed Kosovo [from the Ottoman Empire] in 1912. So we know how to wait for a long time,” he asserted.

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Belgrade Insight to be integrated into Balkan Insight

After a 265 issue run, Belgrade Insight, BIRN’s bi-weekly Belgrade-focused English-language newspaper, printed its last paper edition on Friday 21 December, 2018. 

In its decade-long life since 2008, Belgrade Insight sought to bring quality journalism to its readers and subscribers.

Belgrade Insight covered political and economic developments in Serbia, but also told stories about people, businesses and events which shaped a unique and multi-faceted city like Belgrade.

In addition to detailed analysis and coverage of political, economic and business affairs, Belgrade Insight provided its readers with everything that expatriates, short-term visitors and local residents need to know in order to enjoy this great city.

It the past decade, it saw many changes in Serbia’s political and cultural climate: from the deep recession of early 2010s to Serbia’s candidate status in the EU, through Belgrade’s first Eurovision song contest and re-opening of city’s museums.

Although Belgrade Insight will no longer be printed, BIRN journalists and associates will continue their coverage of Belgrade and Serbia through the Balkan Insight website.

For any questions or refunds contact Snezana Caricic (snezana.caricic@birn.eu.com)