Tuesday

14th Jul 2020

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 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

Kosovo to restart EU/US-led Serbia talks

Restarting talks on Serbia relations will be the new Kosovo prime minister's top priority, he said, but will the EU or the US lead the process?

News in Brief

  1. Croatia opens for US tourists, defying EU ban
  2. Poll: only 61% of Germans would get Covid-19 vaccine
  3. UK to spend €788m on new UK-EU border control system
  4. Berlin wants first use of EU cyber sanctions on Russia
  5. Erdogan warns neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves
  6. Bulgaria: political crisis amid anti-corruption protests
  7. Pope and Turkish-German leader join Hagia Sophia protest
  8. France and UK create joint migrant intelligence unit

Opinion

Wanted: EU-US cooperation on Kosovo

International burden-sharing worked in Kosovo - until the Trump administration announced White House talks with the presidents of Kosovo and Serbia on June 27, leaving the EU special envoy for the Western Balkans in the dark.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Poland's EU-battles to continue as Duda wins tight vote
  2. EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK
  3. Let's have positive discrimination for EU stagiaires
  4. We need to do more for our small and medium-sized enterprises
  5. Romania's virus surge prompts queues and new worries
  6. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  7. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  8. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us