Monday

22nd Apr 2019

EU agrees on Kosovo mission

The European Union has given the political green-light to a 1,800-strong police and civilian mission to be deployed in Serbia's breakaway region of Kosovo, although differences remain over the possible recognition of Kosovo's independence.

"This is the clearest signal that the European Union could possibly give that it intends to lead on the whole issue of Kosovo's future, its status and its role in the region", Portuguese prime minister Jose Socrates - whose country currently holds the EU presidency - said on Friday (14 December), after EU leaders agreed the move on the European Security and Defence Policy mission (ESDP).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • EU leaders remain split on how to deal with Kosovo's likely future independence (Photo: Council of the EU)

According to French president Nicolas Sarkozy, "Europe has saved its unity on the question of Kosovo".

German chancellor Angela Merkel, for her part, said she had "not expected" a decision when she came to the summit Friday morning, while the country's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier added that the decision was "the real news this evening".

However, it remains unclear when precisely the EU's mission, consisting of 1,800 policemen, prosecutors and judges, can be deployed on the ground.

While Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn said the mission would be deployed "just after Christmas [2007]", Bulgarian foreign minister Ivailo Kalfin indicated a less ambitious time-frame - "before the end of the summer [2008]".

According to Slovakia's foreign minister Jan Kubis, the specifics of the mission should be concluded in January next year, after a round of consultations with the UN body.

The EU mission - designed to strengthen stability in the region and ensure that Kosovo's future settlement observes democratic standards - will be legally based on current UN Resolution 1244.

The same resolution introduced the UN administration over the Serbian province back in 1999.

The costs are estimated at €165 million just for the first year of its presence.

However, EU leaders continue to be divided over the mooted "coordinated" declaration of independence of Kosovo.

Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain have all reiterated their concerns over such a move - each of them worried by possible consequences for their own countries.

Portugal's Jose Socrates stressed that the fact the EU is sending a mission to Kosovo does not mean that the bloc is ready to recognise the province's independence.

According to president of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos "the fate of Kosovo must be an agreed solution with the Serbs. If not, it must be a resolution by the Security Council. That's the only accepted path".

Divisions on Serbia

The summit also highlighted the persistent divisions among member states concerning whether to link the further integration of Serbia with the arrest of remaining war crimes suspects, notably general Ratko Mladic.

Last week, outgoing UN chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte called on the EU not to sign a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) - the first step to EU membership - with Belgrade unless it arrests the general charged with genocide and war crimes.

Some countries, such as the Netherlands, support this stance, but others insist that Serbia's SAA should be signed even if general Mladic is not arrested, provided that Serbia presents enough proof that it has done all it can to capture him.

Bulgarian prime minister Sergei Stanishev called on "some European countries" to show more solidarity and comprehension with member states geographically close to Serbia - such as Bulgaria itself, who have an interest in Serbia's European future becoming a reality as soon as possible.

Bulgaria hopes the SAA with Belgrade could be signed at the end of January and called for more flexibility on the issue of capturing the war crimes suspects.

In their conclusions following the meeting, EU leaders encouraged Serbia to "meet the necessary conditions to allow its SAA rapidly to be signed" and "reiterated [their] confidence that progress on the road towards the EU, including candidate status, can be accelerated".

They stopped short of making a specific reference to the condition of cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal.

EU Kosovo mission 'unacceptable' for Serbia

Serbia has expressed strong opposition to the decision taken last Friday by EU leaders to send an EU mission to Kosovo, saying the mission would ultimately lead to the creation of a "puppet state" out of the Serbian province.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us