By Dr. Edy Cohen and Dr. Frank Musmar
September 16, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The US-brokered Israel-UAE normalization agreement was swiftly followed by a similar agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, as well as an Israel-Bahrain agreement. The Trump administration has momentum as it continues to work toward a reformulation of formerly combative relationships. The Israel vs. Arab perception is rapidly changing to an Israel-Arab vs. Iran perception, and that dynamic will create further new alliances on both sides.
On September 4, 2020, President Donald Trump hosted Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti at the White House to sign an economic normalization agreement that will lead to the establishment of air, rail, and motorway links between Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, and Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. Twenty-one years ago, Serbia and Kosovo engaged in a bloody war after Serbia cracked down on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, a conflict that ended in NATO action against Serbia and Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008.
The Trump administration is gathering remarkable momentum on the foreign policy and diplomacy fronts. Washington announced the Serbia-Kosovo normalization agreement only 22 days after it announced the groundbreaking Israel-UAE normalization agreement, and an Israel-Bahrain normalization agreement was announced shortly after the Serbia-Kosovo news.
Belgrade and Pristina have both vowed to establish relationships with Israel. They plan to open embassies in Jerusalem by 2021, which will make them the first European countries to do so (rather than in Tel Aviv). This step could ultimately lead to international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Significantly, Pristina’s will be the first embassy of a Muslim-majority state in Israel. The EU is now reconsidering the possibility that Kosovo might join the Union, and Serbia and its Russian and Chinese allies will likely recognize Kosovo’s independence.