Agreement on Regional Representation of Kosovo

10. The regional organisations referred to in these conclusions are existing and future intergovernmental organisations or agreements whose objective is to promote cooperation or integration in the Balkan region. “Regional meetings” include meetings of these organizations, as well as ad hoc or informal meetings with similar objectives. This includes meetings with the EU institutions as part of the European agenda. According to the agreement, Kosovo will be represented in regional forums simply under the name “Kosovo”, but also with a footnote referring to both UN Resolution 1244 and the opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Kosovo`s declaration of independence. Stefanovic expressed satisfaction with the success of the negotiations on this issue and stressed that the agreement reached is fully in line with our national and state interests. In the context of regional cooperation, kosovo* is “the only term used with the following footnote: “This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and the opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo`s Declaration of Independence”. The agreement on regional representation and cooperation was an important step forward. First, it allowed Kosovo to participate independently in regional meetings and initiatives instead of being represented by UNMIK. Second, the famous asterisk (*) was introduced next to the name of Kosovo, with the footnote stating: “This designation does not affect positions on status and is in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo`s declaration of independence.” This also referred to the EU`s designation of Kosovo.

Thirdly, and somewhat forgotten, the agreement contributed to Serbia obtaining EU candidate STATUS in 2012 and Kosovo the feasibility study on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA). 1. Both Sides reaffirm their commitment to effective, inclusive and representative regional cooperation. The implementation of this agreement has been followed by controversies, so that today it is true that the representatives of Serbia or Kosovo leave or refuse to participate in various events due to non-compliance with the provisions of the agreement. But what are the practical advantages of this agreement? As we have already mentioned, the agreement has allowed Kosovo to participate under its own name (but without the word “republic”) in various regional forums and to participate in various initiatives such as CEFTA, the Regional Cooperation Council (JRC), the brdo-brijuni process and finally the Berlin process and the resulting programmes: the Regional Office for Youth Cooperation (RYCO), the Transport Community, the Investment Forum of the 6 Western Balkans Chambers, etc. The head of the Serbian Government team recalled that after today`s talks, the request to establish freedom of movement and to accept the implementation of the agreement on administrative transitions, as well as the most important criterion – an agreement on Kosovo`s regional representation – have been fully met. 2. To that end, the term “Kosovo”* is the only term used in the context of regional cooperation. However, the implementation of this agreement is not without controversy. To date, Serbian representatives have left or refused to participate in various events because the provisions of this agreement are not respected. Therefore, the agreement did not completely resolve the issue of Kosovo`s representation, but its importance for the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo and the promotion of regional cooperation, which is very beneficial for its citizens, should not be overlooked.

The benefits of Kosovo`s participation in these programmes are considerable. They were very beneficial for the citizens of Kosovo, but also for the whole region, including the citizens of Serbia, because the representatives of both sides could now meet and discuss many important issues. It has also facilitated and “normalized” high-level meetings between the two sides. Membership in regional organisations and forums has probably contributed more to improving relations between the two governments than the Brussels dialogue cycles, particularly with regard to their public perception. He explained that in the regional representation there will be an asterisk behind the inscription “Kosovo” and the footnote will read as follows: “This name does not prejudge the status of Kosovo and is in accordance with UN Resolution 1244 and the decision of the International Court of Justice on the Declaration of Independence of Kosovo”. 8. The Union, as an intermediary, shall inform the relevant regional organisations and bodies of those rules on designation, representation and signature. They should be reflected in the practical organization of regional meetings. The EU will monitor the implementation of these agreements. This agreement allows Kosovo representatives to participate and cooperate in regional initiatives with representatives of other countries in the region.

Eu High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule called the deal a big step forward. Ashton said: “I would like to congratulate both sides on these two substantive agreements. The agreement on integrated border crossing management is currently being put into practice. Kosovo and Serbia appear to have finally agreed on a complex formula whereby Kosovo can be represented in regional forums without provoking a Boycott or Serbian Walkout. 4. “Kosovo*” participates on its own behalf and speaks for itself in all regional meetings. Thanks to this agreement, Kosovo has had the opportunity to participate in regional initiatives such as CEFTA, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCF), the Brdo-Brijuni process, but also in the Berlin process, which brought together Serbia and Kosovo to discuss joint projects and programmes, for example the Niš-Priština motorway, the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), the Transport Community, the Investment Forum of the Western Balkans Chamber. Belgrade/Brussels, 24 February 2012 – The head of the Serbian government team for dialogue with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic said that the delegations in Belgrade and Pristina had reached an agreement today on Kosovo`s regional representation and that a technical protocol on the joint management of administrative crossing points had been adopted. The other strengthens regional cooperation and ensures that everyone is adequately represented. Both are new steps on the European path.

5. Where new agreements are to be initialled and/or signed, a representative of “Kosovo*” shall sign under the name referred to in paragraphs 2 and 3. However, there is a strong case for the most important individual agreement between Serbia and Kosovo was the regional representation and cooperation agreement concluded in February 2012. What for? Well, not so long ago, high-level meetings between Serbia and Kosovo were almost impossible to imagine. If two senior officials accidentally met at an airport in a third country and shook hands, that would be great news and controversy. It was even a huge controversy when a former president did this, let alone the current one. Officials from both governments have also not met in regional for a and have sometimes even avoided participating in the ongoing EU-backed dialogue. “Freedom of movement will be made possible, the agreement will be implemented. The agreement fully meets our demands,” Stefanovic said in Brussels.