American Balkans experts Michael Carpenter told the Voice of America that the coming elections in Kosovo and Serbia could slow down the process of reaching an agreement to normalize Belgrade-Pristina relations.
Carpenter, formerly a senior Department of Defense official for Russia, the Balkans Eurasia, said that election season is a very bad time to reach international agreements because it is a good time for people who advocate hard-line political stands. According to him, an agreement at this time is not very likely.
The Senior Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement said that the idea of an exchange of territories might succeed in the current political situation in Serbia and Kosovo but warned that the time was not right yet. He said that he sees no alternate plan if the exchange of territories fails, adding that Serbia needs to be offered some more concrete and sooner than European Union membership in return for recognition of Kosovo, something specific which its citizens would view as valuable.
Carpenter also voiced doubts about the success of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in the way that former EU High Representative Federica Mogherini conducted it. According to him, current US administration wants to use every opportunity to resolve the Kosovo-Serbia dispute. He said that everything will boil down to an agreement between the big players, including the US and EU, and an agreement reached by the leaders on the ground which, he believes, won‘t be easy.
Carpenter thinks that Moscow would prefer to see the Kosovo-Serbia conflict remain in place because that would allow Moscow to present itself as the guardian of Serbian interests and help stop Serbia from getting closer to the West.