The European Union will vote Dec. 9 on whether to grant EU candidate status to Serbia. The vote follows a Dec. 2 agreement between Serbia and Kosovo to end the protracted standoff between NATO’s peacekeeping Kosovo Force (KFOR) and Serb rioters at border checkpoints. The standoff began in July when ethnic Albanian Kosovo police forces were sent to the border to enforce a boycott on Serbian goods. Serbs rioted at border crossings in Serb-majority northern Kosovo and set up nearly two dozen barricades on the roads leading to the checkpoints. What ensued was a standoff between KFOR and Serbs, who were looking to prevent Pristina officials from taking over the border crossings. The EU-facilitated Integrated Borders Management concept is intended to end the border barricades conflict. The agreement stipulates that ethnic Serbs will remove their barricades in northern Kosovo and that officials from Kosovo, Serbia and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo will establish and man joint border checkpoints at common crossing points. Though the deal has calmed the border situation, it likely will be insufficient to sway all members of the European Union to approve Serbia’s candidate status. Serbia might threaten diplomatic action or instability in response, but the country remains isolated from the European Union and NATO, its military options are limited, and it is badly in need of EU investment. Therefore, Brussels can wait to grant candidate status until Belgrade shows serious progress toward normalization of relations with Kosovo.
Analisys by Stratfor