Week in Review: Ambitious Designs

The Special Representative

The news this week that veteran US diplomat Matthew Palmer had been appointed as his country's Special Representative for the Western Balkans has generated a great deal of excitement and expectation in the Balkans.

Palmer certainly has plenty of first hand experience and knowledge of the region. The mere fact that Washington is appointing a Special Representative suggests that it intends to get more closely (re)involved in the region. However, serious challenges await Palmer, ones which, even with all the might of the US administration behind him he will be pushed to mediate, let alone resolve.

Read more: Palmer Appointment Signals Washington's Return to Balkans (September 2, 2019)


A sign against the President of Serbia Aleksander Vucic during a protest in Tirana, Albania, 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/MALTON DIBRA

According to the count of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the end of August Togo became the 15th country to 'derecognise' Kosovo. Serbia began the campaign to secure 'derecognitions' of Kosovo in 2017, the first 'success' being Surinam. Meanwhile, Kosovo has denied that most of these derecognitions have occurred, although Serbia's efforts appear to have caused significant irritation in Pristina, particularly given that there have been few new recognitions of Kosovo's proclaimed independence.

While Belgrade and Pristina engage in their attrition warfare, many, such as James Ker Lindsay in his recent comment, wonder what the point of all of this is? As Ker Lindsay observes, no amount of recognitions and derecognitions will change the fact that Kosovo will continue to function as an independent state as long as the US and European countries such as Britain,...

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