Caught in the middle : European Union’s role and intentions in the post-conflict negotiation process between Kosovo and Serbia

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Settling an argument between two sides is a complicated, if not even an impossible task. Those who have accepted the role of the ones being in the middle of a conflict and are trying to make amends have chosen a difficult mission. According to the Concept developed in 2009 by the General Secretariat of the European Council, “the European Union, as a global actor committed to the promotion of peace, democracy, human rights and sustainable development, is generally seen as a credible and ethical actor in situations of instability and conflict and is thus well placed to mediate, facilitate or support mediation and dialogue processes.” (The General Secreteriat of the Council, 2009) Peaceful dispute settlement is, however, a team effort which requires substantial expertise, knowledge, technical capacity, engagement at different levels over time as well as cooperation with other actors in order to be effective and to improve its chances of success. The European Union (EU) states that it aims to develop a more systematic approach to its peaceful dispute settlement efforts and to strengthen its mediation support capacity in order to allow it to contribute in a more efficient and effective way to preventing and resolving conflicts. It is the Union’s ambition to strive to establish and promote the use of mediation as a tool of first response to emerging or on-going crisis situations. As such, mediation could also be mainstreamed into other EU conflict prevention and crisis management activities, wherever relevant. (The General Secreteriat of the Council, 2009) Therefore, mediation support of the European Union is becoming stronger and mediation has been promoted as a tool itself to be used when dealing with possible or on-going crisis situations. Strengthening the Union’s mediation support capacity involves the provision of operational support to on-going mediation and dialogue initiatives, assessment of lessons learned, identification of best practices and, as appropriate, the development of guidelines for the EU practice in the area of mediation, developing training and capacity building regarding mediation as well as networking and coordination with other actors in crisis management.
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