Just for the sake of having a snapshot of the current stage Serbia is pushed toward in terms of Kosovo recognition as the EU/US “assurances” continue that recognition is “not” a condition of Serbia’s EU membership, I’m excerpting a B92 report about the meeting last week between Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic and Kosovo “president” Atifete Jahjaga. One certainly sympathizes with a president struggling to hold on to his land by whatever meager means are left to him, in this case by clinging to the already stretched semantics that dance around and draw out the country’s last gasp.

Nikolić, Jahjaga, Ashton meet in Brussels (B92, Feb. 6)

…Nikolić spoke for B92 in Brussels shortly after a 50-minute meeting he held with Jahjaga and EU’s Catherine Ashton, who acted as mediator.

“As part of the dialogue that I support, two months ago I suggested that (Kosovo) President Jahjaga and I meet. Unfortunately, Mrs. Jahjaga insisted - along with a textbook story about human rights - that two independent states should cooperate,” the president said.

“I said that if she continues to insist that Kosovo is an independent state, the dialogue will not be able to move toward moving a joint solution,” Nikolić added. “…The meeting can be appraised as useful, in terms of getting acquainted with one another, but the problem is that there were no common topics that could be discussed and for which solutions could be found.”

The president stressed that during the meeting today, he “moved within the scope of the [Serbian parliament’s Kosovo] Resolution”:

“Clearly, everyone who is talking with our representatives is insisting that it (Kosovo) is about an independent state, and that cannot pass.”

Asked to comment on the speculation that the meeting was “the last step toward (Serbia’s) recognition” of Kosovo, Nikolić said that the encounter was “certainly not motivated by our desire to recognize Kosovo, but rather to tone down the passions.”

“Serbia’s desire is completely clear - the last thing that I would do for as long as I Iive would be to agree to, to accept Kosovo as an independent state.”

Nikolić underscored that by the parliamentary resolution, Serbia recognizes the specific nature of the territory of Kosovo and Metohija with an independent judiciary, president, government and the asse, but there are also communities there, such as the Serb or the Roma community, and they should have a certain autonomous status within it.

The Serbian president underscored that during the meeting, he voiced all the stands contained in the Resolution adopted by the Serbian parliament.

He noted that this is the framework Belgrade’s negotiating team will not overstep in the continuation of the dialogue.

Nikolić stated that this is a good start because the book of agreements has been opened, but it is uncertain just how long the process would last.

“After all, this is not so important. It is better for the talks to last longer and yield a solution eventually,” he said and added that it would be difficult to reach an agreement if Priština’s stand about its independence remains firm and unchanged although it is not recognized by the UN.

Nikolić said that without Serbia’s consent, there can be no independence for Kosovo and Metohija for as long as the UN exists in their current form, adding that he does not see why authorities would be unwilling to discuss another solution which would improve living conditions both in Serbia and in the Balkans as a whole.

“There is no other solution save for the agreement and if you read the Resolution of the Serbian National Assembly, you will realise that Serbia offered the solution according to which Kosovo and Metohija would be able to function and develop almost as an independent state, but no country can be expected to recognise the independence of any of its parts without asking their citizens first,” Nikolić said.

He added that everyone should bear in mind that there is a number of countries which have not recognized Kosovo and Metohija independence because they are aware it would open problems in their own territory.

According to Nikolić, during their separate meeting Ashton “did not voice any remark which could serve as grounds for doubt that the European Commission (EC) report would be positive”.

Nikolić expressed his optimism and added that in his view, the fact that Serbia wants to conduct talks with ethnic Albanians and is doing so is positive for the country.

“EU membership is our primary goal and we will do all a country and a nation with their pride can do,” Nikolić said.

Ahead of the meeting, Jahjaga briefly addresse[d] reporters in passing to say that she would talk with Nikolić as the president of “a sovereign, independent state”.

“We are equal here. This is the opening of a new chapter in our road of Euro-Atlantic integrations,” said Jahjaga.

“We are now tackling the issue of northern Kosovo and the coming weeks will be critical,” [Ashton] said. [Is that a deadline for a non-violent solution and otherwise it’ll be NATO guns?]

Atifete Jahjaga stated after the meeting with Tomislav Nikolić on Wednesday that this was “the first meeting between presidents of two independent and sovereign countries”. [She doth protest too much.]

“Our goal is to implement what is written in our document (parliament’s resolution on Kosovo) because it is taking care of Albanians’ interests but it thoroughly protects the Serb community as well,” [Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkic] noted.

“I truly believe we have a very good chance to get a date for the start of the EU negotiations and that it has rarely been this good,” Mrkić stressed.

Below we have just a random example of a straight-faced expert weighing in on Serbia’s outlook, as if not farcically navigating the confines of the allowable language of the current framework of promises/lies that one has to work within:

“Serbia can join EU without recognizing Kosovo” (B92, Feb. 10)

NOVI SAD — Graz-based Center for South-East European Studies Director Florian Bieber says it is “quite realistic” for Serbia to join the EU without recognizing Kosovo.

“If Serbia finds a way to cooperate, to normalize relations with Kosovo, I do not see that an official recognition is a condition, that Belgrade needs to send an ambassador to Priština and vice versa,“ he stressed.

Not today, but next week…?

“Of course, that can be an official stance of the EU some day but for now there is enough room to find another solution that would include normalization but not recognition,” Bieber stressed.

“For now,” indeed.

He told Novi Sad-based daily Dnevnik that a meeting between Serbian and Kosovo Presidents Tomislav Nikolić and Atifete Jahjaga was a “historic” meeting and a new step forward in the Belgrade-Priština relations and another proof that steps toward normalization of relations were being made.

That is, steps toward recognition.

According to Bieber, a precondition for the success in the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is an EU offer for both sides that will include speeding up of Serbia’s EU accession and some economic offers.

Imagine the thought: that Serbia is allowed to “precondition” its foreign masters, and the latter will actually feel obliged to hold up its end of the bargain and “speed up” things for Serbia if Serbia jumps through every new hoop.]

He said that the two sides were moving toward some kind of the so-called Ahtisaari Plus Plan when it comes to northern Kosovo.

“I think some sort of partition is not acceptable to the EU and Kosovo [no mention that this option used to be on the table] but autonomy for northern Kosovo which would to an extent legalize the existing situation is. In that sense, the north will certainly be closely connected with Serbia,” Bieber noted.

Again, today autonomy is on the table (though probably not one that would legalize the existing situation). But aside from the likelihood of that too eventually going the way of every other inch that had been dangled before the Serbs then taken away when they complied with that day’s demand, how realistic is it to think the northern Serbs will be allowed to live in peace, autonomously or not, in a region under Albanian rule?