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Open Access Same Table, Different Menus? A Comparison of UN and EU Mediation Practice in the Kosovo-Serbia Conflict

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Same Table, Different Menus? A Comparison of UN and EU Mediation Practice in the Kosovo-Serbia Conflict

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Affiliations: 1: Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik/German Development Institute (DIE) Tulpenfeld 6, 55113 BonnGermany


This article compares UN and EU mediation practice in the Kosovo-Serbia conflict. It proposes a conceptual framework to analyze mediation effectiveness and its conditions and applies it to the UN-led Kosovo Status Talks in Vienna (2006–2007) and the ongoing EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina (since 2011). The EU’s relatively high degree of effectiveness compared to the UN effort can be partly explained by the application of a strategy of manipulation, drawing on the EU’s strong leverage vis-à-vis both sides; partly by pointing to the conflict context which has been more favorable to mediation since 2011. At the same time, the analysis reveals that EU mediation has not led to any changes concerning Serbia’s stance toward the recognition of Kosovo’s independence. The continuing non-resolution of the conflict demonstrates the limits of the EU’s manipulative mediation approach and points to a substantial dilemma of EU mediation.


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