Connect with us

Europe

Heading towards GDPR in 2018– Enhanced rights for citizens in the EU

Jasna Čošabić, PhD

Published

on

One thing is certain for 2018. It will be marked with a milestone change in data protection for persons in the EU. Not only for EU citizens, but for anyone in the EU. And such protection will have effect not only in the EU, but its long-arm effect will bring duties for its compliance world wide. It will affect not just businesses in the EU, but the companies in the USA, China or Australia. Now, it has been clearly recognized, what has been in the air for some time, that when protection of human rights in the cyber sphere is at stake, earth bound borders are being overcome. And so is the classic international law. General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’), which is about to be applicable as from 25 May 2018, will bring major changes in data protection introducing enhanced rights for individuals or data subjects, complex duties of compliance for those processing personal data (controllers and processors), as well as high fines for breaches (up €20 million or 4% of annual turnover).

The need for overall data protection comes parallely with the fast rate growth in information technology tools. Persons and their personal data become overly exposed either willingly, or at least subconciosly willingly. By giving our personal data to social networks we choose to publish them either with limited number of known persons or without limitation. We might give our bank account number when purchasing online, delivery address or submit our phone number when applying to certain job. Our IP address is visible whenever approaching certain web location. Butdo we accept that another employer calls us, instead the one we gave our phone number to? Did we ask for our inbox to get loaded with offers that we did not ask for? Or more extremely, what if our bank account is approached without our authorization? In the world of digital technologies, the right information means power. The race for economic growth means a race for more customers turning into a search for valid e-mail addresses, phone numbers and other personal information in order that a product or a service is offered and eventually sold. Key to reaching customers becomes a hunt for personal information. But that hunt has limitations.Limitations are made to protect the rights of natural persons, data subjects, such as theright to access data, right to rectification, right to erasure, right to restrict, right to data portability, right to object, etc.

Whose rights are protected?

Or what is ratione personae jurisdiction of the GDPR? The persons protected under GDPR are called data subjects, identified or identifiable natural persons (Article 4, para 1) who are in the Union (A3, para 2). The Regulation opted for a location of a data subject as a criterium for protection under GDPR, instead of a more formal approach such as EU citizen, or legal resident of the EU, thus making an extensive approachtowards any person who is in the Union.

What counts as personal data?

Personal data that is subject of protection mechanism of the GDPR is any information relating to data subject. (A 4, para 1). When deciding which information can be considered as personal data, it is important that the information is able to identify the person, or that it is identifier. An identifier or a personally identifiable information (PII) may be obvious such as name, identification number, but also location data, or other factors that may be connected to certain person such as physical, psychological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity. So, thedata which may be come under the domain ‘personal data’are defined broadly in order to cover all possible identifiers which do not necessarily need to be recognizable at first hand. On the other hand, according to the GDPR principle of ‘data minimization’, no excess data should be processed but only minimum of data necessary for the purpose of processing.

Right to access data

Right to access data is a prerequisite for all other rights. It is an opening gate to an array of data protection rights. In order that a person may request that his data are rectified, erased, restricted, portable, or objected, one first must to get to know if and what data are collected. Data subject has further the right to know the purpose of processing, to whom the data will be disclosed, period of data storage, to be informed about the right to complain, or to request rectification or erasure or restriction of processing (A 15). Recital 63 stresses out the importance of data access concerning health, insight into medical records, treatment. The controllers are advised to provide remote access to a secure system which would provide the data subject with direct access to his or her personal data, but to the extent that rights and freedoms of others are not adversely affected.

Right to rectification

Data subject may request the rectification of inaccurate personal data, completion of uncomplete personal data (A 16). The precondition for exercise of the right to rectification is the right to access to data, which is needed for the data subject get to know the personal data kept about him/her, at first hand. This gives the data subject role of a “controller” of his/her personal data, and should be also favored by controllers for pointing to data flaws.

Right to erasure or the right to be forgotten

The milestone Google v. Spain case, has brought a practical effect to the right to be forgotten, then provided for in Data Protection Directive 95/46 (Article 6(1)(c) to (e)), but it also introduced its long arm territorial reach, which was echoed in other legal systems as well, and upon which, the lead search engine Google,later enabled its users to request the erasure of the personal data across the globe (https://forget.me/ ). The Court of Justice of the EU, has outlined in the said judgment, that ‘even initially lawful processing of accurate data may, in the course of time, become incompatible with the directive where those data are no longer necessary in the light of the purposes for which they were collected or processed. That is so in particular where they appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to those purposes and in the light of the time that has elapsed.’ (para 93)

The right to erasure under Article 17 of the GDPR follows the wording and the intention of the said case, providing for the possibility of requesting erasure when the personal data are no longer necessary in relation to the purposes for which they were collected or processed (para 1a). However it adds also a more wide approach, introducing, inter alia, lack of consent, as a grounds for requesting data erasure, or objection by data subject, giving thus more subjective approach to the right of erasure, putting the will of the data subject at the outset when opting for erasure of private data, of course unless public interest requires otherwise (right of freedom of expression and information;official authority; public health; scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes; for the establishment, exercise or defense of legal claims (A 17 para 3)) .According to GDPR principle of ‘transparency in processing’ of personal data, controllers are to inform the data subjects on the existence of the right to rectification or erasure and the right to data portability (A 13(b)). They should also strive to inform any other controllers who might have come in touch with such data, to erase any links or copies or replications of personal data in order that the right to be forgotten is strengthened in the online environment.

Right to restrict

Persons or data subjects shall have the right to restrict the processing (A18) if they contest the accuracy of personal data, if the processing is unlawful but they do not want erasure. Restriction, contrary to erasure, leaves the data, but with restricted access. Suggested methods for restriction of data are temporarily moving the selected data to another processing system, making the selected personal data unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published data from a website. The restriction of data should be clearly indicated in the system (Rec. 67), and data subjects should be informed in case of lifting the restriction.

Right to data portability

A new right recognized by the GDPR is right to data portability (A20). It gives the data subjects right to be sole proprietors of their data and puts obligation on controllers to lay that data in structured, commonly used and machine-readable format, and to enable data subjects to carry them or to transmit them to another controller of processor. GDPR differs two kinds of acquired data which is the subject of portability right. Those are data that are deliberately provided by data subjects, such as data when opening e-mail account, bank account, social network profile, shopping account. Such data are disposed of, pursuant to a consent or a contract. And on the other hand,there are data that have been collected by controllers or processors themselves, i.e. by automated means.

It also includes right to have personal data transmitted directly from one controller to another. For example, if one person decides to change his electricity provider, he may request his provider to transmit his data to another provider. That puts data subject in a position to administer his data and to have a controller act upon his demands. The ability to transmit data from one service provider to another, puts also an important accent to healthy market competition, although that comes as a secondary consequence, while the primary aim is to have data subjects in control of their personal data.

Right to object/Profiling

Data subjects are given right to object on processing personal data, including profiling (Art 21 re A 6 (1) e, f), when such processing is carried out in the public interest or for legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party. When data subject objects, the controller shall no longer process the personal data. However, if controller demonstrates compelling legitimate grounds for processing which override the interests, rights and freedoms of the data subject, it may continue to process the personal data.

What refers to profiling? Profiling is described in Recital 71 of the GDPR as automated processing aimed to evaluate the personal aspects of a natural person in order to analyze or predict data subject’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests,reliability or behavior, location or movements, where it produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her.Profiling may be used for tax purposes in which case it is in a public interest. But profiling may also be used with a purpose of direct marketing.

We are often faced with internet offers recognizing exactly our needs or interests filling our inbox sometimes to our delight, but sometimes not. Pop-ups, ads, and other kinds of direct marketing is displayed to us on the basis of our past searches, and is result of automated profiling. If a person objects to profiling for direct marketing purposes, then processing will be stopped. There may not be a compelling interest of the controller in this regard.

GDPR makes difference between profiling as a result of processing personal data, and issuing a decision based on profiling.Decision making on the grounds of profiling may be done even without the consent (or contract) of the data subjectif it is expressly authorized by Union or Member State law to which the controller is subject, including for fraud and tax-evasion monitoring and prevention purposes (recital 71A 22). However, data subject’s rights, freedoms and legitimated interests must be safeguarded. The phrase “authorized by Union or Member State law” goes in line with the permissible restrictions of rights of data subjects, and corresponds to ‘in accordance with law’ concept outlined in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Human Rights Charter to which Recital 73 of the GDPR refers.

Restrictions or derogations

Rights of data subjects are not absolute ones and may be restricted under certain conditions. GDPR provides the list of possible restrictions in public interest, which follow the spirit of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter. The fair balance between the individual rights and public interest demands must be carefully pondered, in order that proportionality of burdens is not infringed, and that democratic society principlesare safeguarded.

Procedural recourses available to data subjects

It is important that such an act provides not only for material rights but also for possibility of procedural guarantees attained to those rights. There are three types of procedural recourses under the GDPR: judicial remedy, complaint to supervisory authority and out-of-court proceedings and other dispute resolution procedures.

Right to effective judicial remedy (A78) is envisaged to be exercised in Member States, so national systems are to provide for such recourse.

A complaint to supervisory authority is an administrative remedy that shall be dealt with by supervisory authorities in Member States. (A 77) A judicial remedy is also possible against a decision issued in such proceedings (A78), and in case of administrative proceedings taking excessive time.

But out-of-court dispute resolution (A 40) gives a range of possibilities. From classic alternative dispute resolution modalities, such as ombudsman institution and mediation services, to new online dispute resolution possibilities (ODR). ODR EU web-based platform was created by European Commission in February 2016 in order to provide the citizens with faster and less expensive online resolution of disputes, which originated in online purchases. ‘Out-of-court dispute resolution’ in GDPR is given broadly, so it will be interesting to see how the ODR system will respond to any dispute instituted by a data subject in the light of the GDPR.

There are many steps ahead of us and much has already been done, with a view to provide compliance with GDPR. Rightful interpretation of GDPR provisions is also very important. Article 29 Working party has issued series of guidelines on data portability, consent, data protection officers, data protection impact assessment, etc. In addition to direct effect of GDPR as a regulation,some Member States like Austria, Germany, Belgium, have enacted national laws in that regard.Another important issue isa long-arm effect of GDPR when speaking of EU-USA transfer of data, and its relation to Privacy Shield agreement. Supervisory authorities in Member States must prepare for their crucial position in dealing with complaints, breaches, etc. Companies and businesses must get ready and data protection officers are going to be very much needed workforce.

So, the great stone of GDPR is already rolling, urging all affected players to catch speed, or the sanctions will be sky-high. We are heading towards the start of a great albeit challenging story of thorough and profound data and human rights protection.

Continue Reading
Comments

Europe

Any signs of a chill between France and Germany?

Published

on

The past few months have seen many signs of growing friction and divisions between the two European superpowers, Germany and France. Before the February vote on changes to the EU Third Energy Package, meant to expand the European Commission’s power to regulate Europe’s electricity and natural gas market, France opposed, until the very last moment, Germany’s position on the issue. In April, Paris and Berlin failed to agree on how much more time Britain should be given to decide on its withdrawal from the EU. During the recent presidential elections in Ukraine, France and Germany supported various candidates. Moreover, they are equally divided on who will be the new head of the European Commission. What is happening in relations between members of the “European tandem”?

During the latter half of 2018, it looked as if relations between the EU’s two powerhouses were reaching a new strategic level. In a joint statement made in Meseberg in June, Berlin and Paris outlined their shared vision of the European Union’s future development. In late August, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas simultaneously spoke out about a new role for Europe to make it “sovereign and strong.” During their informal meeting in Marseille in September, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel agreed on a coordinated response to the main challenges facing Europe and on concerted work on shaping the “agenda for Europe.”

In November, the two leaders spoke in favor of creating a “European army,” “real Pan-European armed forces” capable of defending Europe. And in January of this year, they inked a broader cooperation accord in Aachen, which commentators described as a “new big step” in bringing the two countries closer together. The Treaty of Aachen covers new areas of political cooperation, including common projects and commitments in the fields of defense and international relations.

Just a month later, however, the Franco-German rapprochement hit a snag over two strategic projects worth billions of euros, namely the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and trade relations with the United States. Here the interests of Paris and Berlin differ the most. Underscoring the seriousness of the rift, Emmanuel Macron canceled a planned trip to a security conference in Munich in what many commentators described as a “demonstrative” move. As for the issue of completing the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the compromise reached by France and Germany and approved by the European Parliament, imposed on Berlin “a formula that the German government wanted to avoid.”

Regarding the issue of trade relations with the United States, it wasn’t until mid-April that Brussels collectively managed to prevail over France, which had been blocking the start of pertinent negotiations with Washington.  Any delay may cost the German automakers multi-billion dollar fines from the United States. If the French succeed in delaying the start of negotiations, Germany, which is already experiencing a sharp slowdown in economic growth, may end up the loser again.

France’s sudden move left the German media guessing whether Macron’s actions were dictated by his displeasure about Berlin’s “slow response” to his initiatives, or by Donald Trump’s threat to sanction companies involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, including the French concern Engie. Or maybe Macron had resorted to this “show of force” in a bid to strengthen his hand amid the conflict with the “yellow jackets” and growing tensions with Italy?

Indeed, the statement made in Meseberg and the treaty signed in Aachen could have proved too much of a compromise for Macron, if not a serious blow to his ambitions. According to critics, “the Treaty of Aachen dodges the most sensitive topics characteristic of modern Europe.” Including migration and political unification of Europe – something Macron is so eager to accomplish. The treaty makes no mention of a common EU tax and financial policy, while the issue of creating a single economic space is spelled out declaratively at best. Angela Merkel essentially emasculated virtually all of Macron’s initiatives pertaining to the financial and economic reform of the EU and the Eurozone. Emmanuel Macron has been out to become one of the EU’s leaders, or even its sole leader, ever since he became president in 2017. All the more so following Britain’s exit from the bloc and amid the ebbing political authority and the planned resignation by 2021 of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, once the informal leader of a united Europe.

The current political situation in France is also calling for more decisive actions by President Macron. To ensure at least a relative success in the upcoming European elections, he needs to enlist the support not only of the traditional left-and right-centrists, but possibly of some representatives of the new European right too. Whether or not Angela Merkel stands down in 2021, or after the elections to the European Parliament (as has been rumored since April), Emmanuel Macron essentially remains the only top-level proponent of greater European integration. (Unless Merkel ultimately moves to the head of the European Commission, of course). With Macron eyeing a second presidential term in 2022, the advancement of the modernization model for France depends directly on the success of the European project. And here any significant changes in the European Union “mainly depend on the position of France’s privileged partner – Germany.”

All this means that Macron needs a breakthrough now that Berlin is going through a “complicated power transit” with Merkel having resigned as the head of the CDU and preparing to hand her post as Federal Chancellor over to a successor. Therefore, she is now taking her time and, according to her successor as CDU leader, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, is holding out for a new vector in the development of the European project as “the common denominator of the distribution of political forces after the elections.” Does this mean that Berlin’s is staking on the success of its candidate in the ongoing struggle for the next president of the European Commission? For the first time ever, the CDU and the CSU have managed to nominate a common candidate who has “good chances” of heading the EU’s executive body.

Meanwhile, Berlin is facing an intractable dilemma. Since 1949, “avoiding by all means situations necessitating a hard choice between France and the United States has been a key principle of German foreign policy.” This approach “survived all governments and coalitions, and was maintained after the reunification of Germany.” Under the present circumstances, however, remaining firmly committed to the transatlantic relationship threatens to further destabilize the European integration project, which is now seen as being key to Germany’s future. Simultaneously, a course aimed at minimizing damage from the policy of external powers that threatens the fundamental German interests might necessitate radical and ambitious geopolitical maneuvers that would almost inevitably revive the Europeans’ and Americans’ historical fears of “German instincts.”

US and British analysts already worry that “the

[geopolitical]

shackles that are voluntarily accepted [by Germany] can be thrown off.” They also wonder how long it will take before new generations of Germans want to restore their country’ full state sovereignty.

In Germany itself, promotion of such slogans have already given the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) the third largest fraction in the Bundestag. A major paradox of the current European and German policy is that Berlin’s activity or passivity is equally detrimental to the Pan-European project and could eventually lead to the EU’s fragmentation and even disintegration.

However, the Franco-German “tandem” is already being dogged with contradictions and compromises, which are highly unpopular among many in the German establishment. The cautious response by many EU members to the latest joint geopolitical initiatives of Berlin and Paris, gave Germany more reasons to fear that Macron’s global ambitions could exacerbate the differences that already exist in the EU. Many in Germany have long suspected Macron of wishing to make the EU instrumental in his foreign policy aspirations.

Some experts still believe that at the end of the day the current chill between Germany and France may turn out to be just a sign of the traditional “propensity for taking independent political decisions.” The sides are sizing each other up to see “who will be setting the rules of the roadmap in the future.”  Also, Paris’s tougher stance towards Berlin may be a tactical ploy, a pre-election maneuver to “hijack” part of the agenda from the “national populists” of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe where many people are not happy about the German “diktat.”

Emmanuel Macron has proved once and again his ability to ride the wave of public discontent with certain issues. His Plan for Europe, published in early March, carefully avoids any mention of France’ and Germany’s leading role in advancing EU reforms.

On the other hand, the foreign policy of the leading European powers has a long history, and long-term geopolitical considerations continue to play a significant role. Germany, for one, has traditionally been looking for a counterweight to the Anglo-Saxons, while France – to German dominance in Europe. As a result, the search by Paris and Berlin for common points of political contact is now turning into intense efforts to find the “lowest common denominator.” The overall impression is that we will only be able to see a greater deal of certainty in relations between the two countries after the results of elections to the European Parliament have been summed up.  The distribution of roles both within the “European tandem” and in the EU as a whole depends on which political forces – pro-Macron or pro-Merkel, the Europeans will vote for.

 First published in our partner International Affairs

Continue Reading

Europe

Sino-Italian Partnership and European Concern

Mohamad Zreik

Published

on

A crucial moment in modern European history is that the European doors opened to Chinese President Xi Jinping in Italy during a reception that is like receiving kings and leaders. Once again China is moving west despite all the American warnings from the Chinese dragon coming from the East, and this time it was Italy’s accession to the One Belt One Road initiative.

The Chinese president said that his country’s relationship with Italy is excellent and that the Sino-Italian common interests are the basis for a fruitful future. The Italian prime minister said that Italy is a key partner in the Belt and Road initiative and that trade between Italy and China should increase. But all this positive atmosphere is met with dissatisfaction and fear by the United States and some Italians, which is totally opposed to dealing with China because it considers it a threat to its national security and therefore to the national security of Italy.

In order to prevent espionage or transfer of experience by the Chinese, it was agreed to establish an oversight authority. In an expression of US rejection of the agreement, White House official Garrett Marquis wrote last week on Twitter that Rome “does not need” to join the “New Silk Road”. In an effort to ease US concerns, Luigi Di Maio said before taking part in an Italian-Chinese economic forum in Rome that the relationship will not go beyond trade, as we remain allies of the United States, and remain in NATO and the European Union.

The Italian economy, which is in a recession, is pushing the Italian government to form an alliance with China. Many European policy experts consider Italy to be a Trojan horse for China in the European region, which will have political implications for the future of the EU and the future of the Italian-American relationship; especially as the Chinese giant Huawei is expected to participate in the launch of the technology “G5” mobile phones in Italy.

China’s opening up is not limited to Italy, but to Europe as a whole. In the last visit by the Chinese president to Europe, he moved from Italy to Monaco and Paris and met President Emmanuel Macron, who is trying to open up to Beijing. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has opposed the Sino-Italian rapprochement with signing the agreement to join the Belt and Road Initiative, so that Italy will be the first G7 country to join the initiative.

Beijing is interested in investing in Italian ports, including the port of Trieste on the Adriatic, to boost its exports to Europe. Italy seeks to balance trade with China. According to official data, trade between the two countries grew by 9.2% compared to 2016, reaching 42 billion euros. Italy managed to cut its trade deficit with China by 1.37 billion euros, increasing exports to Beijing by 22.2%, while imports rose to 28.4 billion euros, an increase of 4% compared to 2016.

But the most important issue remains the weak Italian economy, which will survive under Chinese debt, and the Sri Lankan experience proves that China is dealing with countries with economic interests. So, will the European gateway withstand the Chinese economic giant, or will it be a Chinese economic and political region in the future?

Continue Reading

Europe

Summit in Berlin: Pressure on Serbs

Published

on

On April 29 Summit of the Western Balkans leaders was organized under the initiative of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. In advance, it was known that the whole meeting was organized only and exclusively because of the Kosovo issue. Summit was opened by German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron who pointed out that Western Balkans remains EU priority, adding that this is only an informal discussion, and no final solutions for Kosovo should be expected. The official meeting was followed by a working dinner, that finished late in the evening.

A letter summarizing the pledges of the meeting with a special focus on Serbia – Kosovo dialogue and economic integration of the region, was signed as the event concluded. After the meeting was concluded, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic stated that the talks had been difficult, but nevertheless thanked Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron for their contribution. According to him, it shows their commitment for the Western Balkans, which is important for maintaining peace in Europe. He added that everybody urged Kosovo`s leaders to revoke the tariffs  introduced for Serbian goods .

President of self-proclaimed Kosovo Hashim Thaci also found last night talks difficult, adding that the Summit finished without any tangible results. Frozen conflict between Belgrade and Pristina has to be overcome, Summit‘s participants jointly concluded, said Thaci to the journalists in Berlin. Thaci stated that, even though there will be no border exchange, he will advocate that Preshevo Valley becomes part of Kosovo. Kosovo’s President expressed dissatisfaction because for Kosovo has not been abolished visas, and reminded that Kosovo fulfilled all the requirements for visa liberalization.

Prime Minister of self-proclaimed Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj pointed out that the recognition by Serbia is the first step towards the progress, but not the final one. Haradinaj stressed that it is unacceptable to change the borders, because if the borders change, it would lead to new ethnic divisions and maybe violence.

It is particularly interesting to point out that on the summit in Berlin, Bosnia and Herzegovina was represented by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina Denis Zvizdic, and if Denis Zvizdic has no legitimacy. Namely, Denis Zvizdic is currently in a technical mandate until the new Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina is elected, while Milorad Dodik, chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, is the only legal representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, since Milorad Dodik is a Serb and publicly declares that Kosovo is a southern Serbian province, Denis Zvizdic was called. And Zvizdic, on summit, pointed out that every country in the Balkans has internationally recognized borders and that the basic EU principal is not to change the existing ones. This statement primarily refers to Republika Srpska, which accounts for 49% of Bosnia and Herzegovina and wants to be independent. But Denis Zvizdic, like all other Bosniak politicians, supports an independent Kosovo.

Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenkovic said that the key messages were directed at the attempt to unblock Belgrade – Pristina Dialogue. Together with his Slovenian colleague Marijan Sarec, Plenkovic was the only other leader of an EU country present at the meeting, apart from Merkel and Macron.

Prespa Agreement was once again pointed out as a model for successful resolution of bilateral disputes. Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev emphasized the importance of normalizing the relations between Kosovo and Serbia, and urged the EU to recognize the progress achieved by his country by opening accession negotiations in June.

Concluding Thoughts

The main objective of the summit in Berlin was to send a clear message that the demarcation between Serbia and Kosovo will not be allowed, and to exert additional pressure on the Serbs. At this summit, Germany and France also clearly stated that it was completely unacceptable for them to change the boundaries along ethnic lines. Also, the European Union makes it clear that they want to resolve the Kosovo issue.

However, the fact that there are no representatives of the United States in the negotiations does not reflect the real situation. Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has recently publicly stated that Kosovo has no foreign policy, but that the foreign policy of Kosovo is lead by the United States. The only reason why the United States is not officially present in the negotiations is that it could be a reason for Russia to engage in negotiations.

And the change in the format of negotiations and the entry of Russia into the new format of negotiations would be the strategic interest of Serbia. Unfortunately, the current Serbian government does not open that question. Exactly opposite, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic led secret negotiations with Hashim Thaci and Federica Mogherini, illegally arranging demarcation between Serbia and self-proclaimed Kosovo. Aleksandar Vucic, together with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, has already done a great deal of damage to Serbian interests in Kosovo. Signing the Brussels Agreement,  Vucic and Dacic agreed to the abolition of Serbian institutions in Kosovo. So now there are border crossings between Serbia and Kosovo, in northern Kosovo which is  predominantly inhabited by Serbs now is established Kosovo Police. And Serbian judges  now take an oath to President of self-proclaimed Kosovo Hashim Thaci, who is considered a terrorist in Serbia.

Serbian authorities strongly lobby in Russia that official Moskow accept the plan of demarcation between Serbia and Kosovo. Recently, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic was in Moscow, while the Serbian President recently met in Beijing with the President of Russia. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have repeatedly made clear that Russia supports any agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, which is within the framework of the UN Resolution 1244. That is a very smart position of Russia, supported by an absolute majority of Serbian citizens.

Because if the plan of current Serbian authorities was accepted, that would result in an independent Kosovo, against which is the absolute majority of Serbian citizens. An independent Kosovo would soon be united with Albania, which is a member of the NATO alliance, and Kosovo would automatically become a NATO territory. All this would result in Serbia’s accelerated path to NATO and EU, as well as the introduction of sanctions against Russia.

First published in our partner International Affairs

Continue Reading

Latest

Trending

Copyright © 2019 Modern Diplomacy