The European Union would make a major strategic mistake if Slovakia's Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak is chosen to lead Serbia-Kosovo negotiations, Toby Vogel and Bodo Weber of the Democratization Policy Council, said, adding that his failure in Bosnia supports their arguments.
"In superficial terms, Lajcak seems to have the necessary qualifications for the job," said Vogel and Weber, recalling that the Slovak diplomat speaks Serbian language and has served twice in the Balkans.
He first oversaw the 2006 referendum on Montenegro's independence as an EU envoy, and then served as EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2007 to 2009, while also serving as international community's High Representative in charge of overseeing the civilian implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1992-1995 war.
"Despite these obvious qualifications, Lajcak is still the wrong person for a number of reasons.
“The First reason is that Slovakia is one of only five EU member states that have not recognized Kosovo's independence," analysts said.
The other reason they cite is that Lajcak has a serious political burden - a "history of political failures in the Balkans." His political conflict with Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik caused by "grave misjudgments and limited political skills, ended up humiliating him, and earning him the reputation of being weak on Dodik and pro-Serb," they said.
In their view, Lajcak placed personal and professional ambitions above the mission he was pursuing. He abruptly left his post in Sarajevo, stating that he could not refuse the offer of then Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fitz to be Slovakia's Foreign Minister.
Appointing Lajcak to lead the dialogue would show the EU's growing lack of seriousness towards the leaders and citizens of Serbia, Kosovo and the wider region, "condemning the continuation of negotiations to failure," Vogel and Weber said, adding that it would also seriously impede the revival of EU's enlargement policy.
He should be responsible only for the talks between Serbia and Kosovo because expanding the competencies of his position to Bosnia and Herzegovina would imply a link between the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, and Bosnia.