Friday

20th Oct 2017

EU divided over future status of Kosovo

EU member states are signalling disagreement on the final status of Kosovo, just as UN-led talks on the future of the territory get under way.

Diplomats indicate that several states - including the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Greece and Italy - are publicly or privately promoting their own ideas, which in some cases go beyond the EU's common position.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

EU member states in June agreed that the exact future status of Kosovo should be decided in UN-led negotiations between Serbs and Kosovan Albanians, while setting out some clear EU principles that any outcome must meet.

The EU conditions include the protection of the Serb minority, no return to the pre-March 1999 status (when Kosovo was directly governed from Belgrade), and, notably, no partitioning of the territory.

However, just after UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari started his initial talks with Belgrade and Pristina last week, Czech prime minister Jiri Paroubek suggested that partitioning Kosovo could be the best solution.

"A solution could be dividing the territory on ethnic lines. The northern part of the region would belong to Serbia, and the majority of the southern part could be given the status of an independent nation", the Czech politician said, according to press reports.

Cacophony of opinions

The Czech move - clearly in breach of EU principles - ran contrary to a previous initiative by Slovene president Janez Drnovsek, who presented earlier this month a plan promoting full independence for an unpartitioned Kosovo.

Mr Drnovsek's plan caused a row in Slovenia itself, with the country's foreign ministry publicly declaring that the president's action did "not reflect" the Slovenian government's position.

An EU diplomat said the Czech and Slovene moves were "worrying", as the EU seemed "incapable of sticking to a common position" over the issue.

Another diplomat described the Czech plea for a partition as "very dangerous".

On top of this, the president of EU candidate state Romania, Traian Basescu, last week while visiting Paris presented a proposal pleading for a type of Kosovan autonomy that falls short of independence from Serbia, which was well received in Belgrade but not in Pristina.

An EU source described the different statements coming out of European capitals as a "cacaphony of opinions."

Wariness about independence

Although most other member states have so far cautiously stuck to the EU's guiding principles, in public at least, they have privately voiced their own views over the issue.

Italy, Spain and Greece in particular are said to be worried about what will happen if the territory is given fully-fledged independence, having been under the administration of the United Nations since the 1999 war.

Sources said Spain is "nervous" about an independent Kosovo setting a precedent for its own autonomous Basque region, something a Spanish spokesman did not want to comment on.

Both Italy and Greece are reportedly wary about endangering their close political and economic ties with Serbia, with Rome particularly fearful of a future "failed" state in Kosovo which could produce large numbers of refugees.

A Greek spokesman did not confirm Athens' particular worry about Kosovo's independence, but did highlight that Athens as a "powerful" player in the region would play an active "mediating role" between Belgrade and Pristina.

The EU has to pay the bill

The direct influence of the EU on the final status talks is likely to be limited, though not irrelevant.

UN envoy Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president, will lead the talks, probably assisted by diplomats of the Kosovo Contact Group, which is viewed by diplomats as being very influential.

A representative from the EU has a seat in this group, but its six-nation core consists of the US and Russia as well as the UK, France, Germany and Italy.

"EU members who do not have a seat in the contact group are envious about those who do", one insider said.

But an EU diplomat argued that in the end, the view of the EU as a whole can hardly be ignored, as "we will have to pay the bill", referring to a probable Brussels role in administration and military stabilisation of the territory.

Mr Ahtisaari's efforts to broker a deal will initially be limited to shuttle diplomacy between Belgrade and Pristina, with direct talks between Serbs and Kosovan Albanians not expected to start before February.

Diplomats estimate that the negotiations will last at least six months, possibly more than a year.

Politicians representing the Kosovan Albanian majority have pleaded for full independence for Kosovo, but Serbia is opposed to granting Kosovo sovereign nation status.

Turkey accuses Merkel of racism

Turkish foreign minister said German chancellor's call to end EU accession talks was "same rhetoric as racist parties".

Juncker: Death penalty will end Turkey's EU bid

Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch PM: Brexit is 'still a bad idea'
  2. Commission to issue proposal on civil protection
  3. Tusk: 'No space' for EU intervention in Catalonia
  4. Austrian PM calls Brexit talks speed 'big disappointment'
  5. PM Muscat: journalist murder 'left a mark' on Malta
  6. Belgian PM: No crisis with Spain over Catalan remarks
  7. Ireland PM: Further Brexit concessions needed from UK
  8. Merkel: rule of law in Turkey going 'in wrong direction'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEJC Applauds the Bulgarian Government for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  2. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  3. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  6. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  7. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  8. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  9. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  10. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  11. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness

Latest News

  1. EU seeks to shut down sea route from Libya
  2. Digital debate will be first test of Tusk's new policy crowbar
  3. EU Parliament: EU migrant quotas do have a future
  4. EU countries praise Tusk's new summit plans
  5. Commission employs double standards in Spain
  6. Legal study sounds alarm on 'Baysanto' merger
  7. Health MEPs want to phase out glyphosate by 2020
  8. Tusk: EU migrant quotas have 'no future'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  2. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  3. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  4. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  5. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  9. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups
  11. ILGA EuropeInternational Attention Must Focus on LGBTI People in Azerbaijan After Police Raids
  12. European Jewish CongressStrong Results of Far Right AfD Party a Great Concern for Germans and European Jews