The Franco-German Plan
Last month, following several months of heightened tensions between Serbia and the unrecognised so-called Republic of Kosovo, five foreign diplomats representing France, Germany, Italy, the European Union and the United States of America flew to Serbia to deliver to the country’s leader, President Aleksandar Vučić, a document that has been publicised as a 10-point “peace plan” created in order to establish normalised relations between Serbia and the disputed territory of Kosovo. Known as the Franco-German Plan – because the proposals contained within the document were largely formulated by the governments of France and Germany, with the backing of the EU and the USA – the Plan itself allegedly contains 10 articles that outline potential solutions to the long-standing frozen conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, the latter of which unilaterally declared independence from the former in February 2008. While the Franco-German Plan has not been officially made public in its entirety, leaked versions have been circulated. Below is the leaked Plan in summary:
The parties will mutually develop normal, good neighbourly relations on the basis of equal rights.
Both parties will mutually recognize relevant documents and national symbols, including passports, diplomas, vehicle plates and customs stamps.
Both parties will be guided by the purpose and principles established in the Charter of the United Nations, especially those on the sovereign rights of states, respect for their independence, autonomy and territorial integrity, the right to self-determination and the protection of human rights and non-discrimination.
In accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the parties shall settle all disputes between themselves only by peaceful means and shall refrain from the threat or use of force.
The parties start from the assumption that none of them can represent the other party in the international sphere or act on its behalf.
Serbia will not oppose Kosovo’s membership in any international organization.
Both sides will support their aspirations to become members of the European Union.
While this basic agreement represents an important step in normalization, both sides will continue the EU-led dialogue process with renewed momentum, leading to a legally binding, comprehensive agreement to normalize relations.
The parties agree that in the future they will deepen co-operation in the fields of economy, science and technology, traffic and connectivity, relations in the judiciary and law enforcement, post and telecommunications, health, culture, religion, sports, environmental protection, missing persons and other areas similarly through reaching specific agreements.
Both sides advocate for the achievement of concrete arrangements, in accordance with the relevant instruments of the Council of Europe and using existing European experiences in order to ensure an appropriate level of self-government for the Serbian community in Kosovo and the possibility of providing services in Kosovo in some specific areas, including the possibility of financial assistance from Serbia and direct channels of communication between the Serbian community and the Government of Kosovo.
The parties will formalize the status of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and ensure a high level of protection of Serbian religious and cultural heritage, in accordance with existing European models.
The parties will exchange permanent missions and they will be located at the seat of the respective government.
Practical issues related to the deployment of missions will be addressed separately.
The commitment of the EU and other donors to create a special package of financial assistance for joint projects of the parties for economic development, connectivity, green transition and other key areas was noted on both sides.
The parties will establish a joint commission, chaired by the EU, which will monitor the implementation of this agreement.
Both parties confirm their obligations to implement all previous agreements.
When one reads the content of the Plan, it comes at absolutely no surprise when President Vučić stated that the Plan is “extremely unfavourable for Serbia”. Not only does the Plan require Serbia to recognise Kosovo and give up a crucially important chunk of its own territory, but Serbia also effectively gains next to nothing in return from the adoption of the Plan, with the so-called “exception” of continued negotiations towards future EU membership – something that the majority of Serbs do not actually want (this majority increases overwhelmingly when the issue of Kosovo in exchange for EU membership is brought up).
The West’s Mentality of “You Are Either with Us or Against Us”
The Franco-German Plan has been dubbed an “agreement” by those in favour of the document in the West, but this “agreement” subsequently becomes an ultimatum following President Vučić’s admission that Serbia’s failure to agree to the Plan could result in negative consequences and harsh measures for the country by Western powers. President Vučić had stated that some of these threats include the cessation of Serbia’s EU accession process, the halting of all EU funding for Serbia and even the imposition of sanctions that would damage Serbia “economically and politically”.
For most in Serbia, the halting of the country’s EU accession process is no issue, for the majority of Serbs do not wish to join the bloc anyway, especially if recognising Kosovo is a condition of joining; the halting of EU funding may come as a short-term economic hit for Serbia, as the bloc is one of Serbia’s largest trading partners, but many in the country have shown willingness to negotiate trade agreements and economic partnerships with other powers, such as Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union, who also contribute a significant amount to Serbia, especially with regards to the field of energy; the threat of sanctions has arguably backfired on the West, as this threat has led to an even greater level of anti-Western sentiment in Serbia. It also shows a remarkable level of ignorance from the advocates of the Franco-German Plan, who are seemingly oblivious to the fact that threatening to punish a sovereign country for rejecting an extremely unfavourable “peace plan” of its own free will as a democratic, independent nation is very likely to stoke much resentment among the nation’s general public, especially when territorial integrity is at stake.
Kosovo & International Law
The West’s threats of sanctions against Serbia have an even worse effect on Serbian public opinion towards the Franco-German Plan and the West in general, when we look at the whole situation from the perspective of international law itself. Not only has Serbia not committed any aggressive actions whatsoever against any other sovereign state or power in order to deserve these sanctions, but Serbia’s territorial integrity, with Kosovo being a legal part of the country, is explicitly outlined within UN Resolution 1244 – created following the end of the Kosovo War in 1999 – which states that Kosovo is to remain an autonomous province within the Republic of Serbia. UN Resolution 1244 also supports the social, cultural and political autonomy of the ethnic Albanian majority of Kosovo, meaning that the Albanians in the territory are permitted all of the same legal rights as every other citizen of Serbia, with the added bonuses of being allowed the rights to use their own Albanian language in books, public signage and local buildings, the establishment of Albanian cultural centres and even the right to their own local elected government. Even hardline nationalist political parties in Serbia are in agreement that an autonomous Kosovo within the Republic of Serbia in accordance with UN Resolution 1244 is a perfectly acceptable deal for most Serbs. It is worth noting here as well that the previous draft of the Franco-German Plan submitted to Serbia a few months ago allegedly stated that while Serbia must allow Kosovo to become a member of the United Nations – and thus formally become an independent state – Serbia itself “does not need to formally recognise Kosovo as independent”. This revelation, when leaked to the general public in Serbia, led to a wave of backlash, for this statement was effectively an example of the Western geopolitical actors involved assuming that the Serbian nation was stupid and it would somehow not be able to understand that allowing Kosovo to join the UN is in itself formal recognition of the territory’s independence.
With regards to the issues of Kosovo and accordance to international law, as per the United Nations agreements, these are factors that continue to be ignored by most Western powers with regards to Serbia, and Serbia has subsequently been presented with an ultimatum that has brought back cultural and national memories of the historic ultimatum of 1914 by the Austro-Hungarian Empire – a set of conditions so extremely unfavourable to the Serb people, that a rejection is almost a certainty, thus giving the political aggressors an excuse to impose damaging measures against Serbia if the latter refuses comply with the former’s strict demands and falls into line.
Despite most of the Franco-German Plan having been leaked to the Serbian public and the revelations regarding the threats and open blackmail against Serbia by the West, some Western diplomats continue to deny these allegations, such as French ambassador to Serbia Pierre Cauchard:
President Vučić said that that document is confidential – we cannot talk about the details – but that document has one goal, and that is to overcome the conflict that has been going on for years. We want to give a new dynamic to the dialogue – the normalisation of Belgrade and Prishtina’s relations is the goal, and we want to speed it up…I am not a participant in the negotiations, but I can say that we do not have a punitive approach towards Serbia. We are not talking about sanctions and blackmail. We only present advantages and benefits if both sides agree, otherwise there will be consequences, but these are not sanctions, but an opportunity for the overall progress and development of the region…
The West does not seem to be capable of sending their most convincing of officials to Serbia to conduct diplomatic business, it seems.
Serbia’s Domestic Response
On Thursday 2nd February, President Vučić led a debate on the issue of the Franco-German Plan at a special parliamentary session involving his own party – the pro-EU Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) – his coalition and members of the opposition. Serbian parliamentary sessions are events that very rarely run smoothly, and this occasion was no different. Much of Vučić’s rhetoric inflamed an already volatile mood within the Parliament Chamber: “EU membership is of vital interest for us. One cannot function without allies…” Forgetting that the EU has already proven to be anything but allies to Serbia, and that Serbia already has very friendly ties with countries such as Russia and China – both of which have vetoed Kosovo’s admission into the UN, thus denying it official statehood – Vučić’s words, naturally, led to a barrage of heckling from opposition MPs. Despite repeated warnings and attempts to calm the situation from the President of the National Assembly, Vladimir Orlić, government and opposition MPs began to take to the Chamber floor to begin physically scuffling with one another in anger. During the unfolding chaos in Parliament, nationalist MPs representing the Serbian Party Zavetnici (SSZ), Dveri and the New Democratic Party of Serbia (NDSS) calmly held up banners bearing the words, in Serbian, “No to capitulation!”, “Treason!” and “Vučić, you have betrayed Kosovo!”
The Serbian opposition has long been highly critical of President Vučić and his party’s policies, both domestic and foreign, but the hostility towards Vučić now is especially understandable, considering that he, as the President of Serbia, is negotiating with foreign and unfriendly diplomats what is effectively an ultimatum to the Serbian nation without making the document itself public. The fact that Vučić is negotiating the Franco-German Plan at all to begin with is enough to incite virulent hostility from both the political opposition and the Serbian people as a whole. According to Vučić himself, he allegedly “does not have the right to publish” the document for public eyes. Surely such a crucial document that will determine the future of Serbia itself should not be withheld from the public eye, regardless of what the Western diplomats have reportedly claimed by wishing for the document to remain a secret, at least for now. According to Vučić, 90% of what had been leaked to the public was true. That then begs the inevitable question of what the other 10% is that the Serbian nation still does NOT know about. Leader of the nationalist party Dveri, Boško Obradović, made his own sentiments clear:
The conclusion of the session of the National Assembly on the subject of Kosovo & Metohija should be…that the National Assembly, without delay, rejects in its entirety the Franco-German proposal that the President has already accepted to apply without authorization, against our will…
Most nationalists across Europe have heard the same threats espoused by those who seek to stamp out anything and everything that fuels the cause for the protection of the nation. For Serbia in 2023, once again, these threats come from the globalist West – namely the EU and NATO – in the form of blackmail, political isolation and even sanctions, despite Serbia not committing any hostile acts whatsoever against any Western power.
Political isolation especially is a concept that frightens many political leaders who evidently do not have the strength to carry and support their own nations through the most gruelling of challenges when faced with open hostility from foreign powers that claim to be so-called “friends and allies”. For nationalists, “isolation” simply means that a nation should finally be left to their own devices, to function self-sufficiently and to establish foreign relations of their own accord without the interference of antagonistic foreign powers that only seek to exploit and enslave the people via insidious globalist means. To quote the leader of the nationalist Serbian Party Zavetnici, Milica Djurdjević-Stamenkovski, following the scenes at the parliamentary session on Kosovo and the Franco-German Plan:
If the SNS [Serbian Progressive Party] and SPS [Socialist Party of Serbia] regime intends to bow its head, Serbia will not. Accepting this Plan would mean historical self-abolition for us. To everyone who is trying to scare us with sanctions and isolation, it must be clear that we will not give up. In defence of the state, we will be unwavering and persistent. As Winston Churchill said, “If necessary, for years; if necessary, alone.”
Europa Terra Nostra Board Member (Serbia)