Graz, Austria -- The recent advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, that Kosovo's declaration of independence in February 2008 was legal, was a defeat for Serbia. But it also offered an opportunity for Serbia to start maneuvering out of the impasse into which its intransigence led.
There are signs it is taking this chance. Days after the ICJ pronouncement, Serbia's President Boris Tadic warned parliament that Serbia "must have the best possible relations with the most powerful states of the world, because everything else would lead the state straight to ruin, and its citizens into poverty." The parliament of Serbia then offered Kosovo new negotiations on the question of status. Such talks could help resolve the scores of practical issues hampering Kosovo's development.
There is movement on the blocked path for Serbia and other Balkan countries into the EU. The question of arresting Bosnian Serb general Radtko Mladic has, however, been de-coupled. A meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Committee agreed on June 14th for the parliaments of member states to ratify Serbia's Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), a step towards gaining EU membership. Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands previously said Mladic must be brought to justice before this would happen.