Friday

19th Apr 2019

MEPs call on whole of EU to recognise Kosovo

One year after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, MEPs on Thursday (5 February) called on all EU countries to recognise Europe's newest state.

The European Parliament "encourages those EU Member States which have not already done so to recognise the independence of Kosovo," reads the resolution adopted by MEPs in Strasbourg today.

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The document was approved by a large majority - 424 MEPs voted in favour, 133 - against, while 24 abstained.

Kosovo declared unilateral independence from Serbia on 17 February last year and it has so far been recognised by 54 states worldwide, including the US and most EU countries.

To date, five EU member states – Romania, Slovakia, Greece, Cyprus and Spain – have not recognised its independence.

In the resolution, the parliamentarians also welcomed the "successful deployment" of the European police and justice mission EULEX to Kosovo.

After having faced numerous delays, EULEX entered its operational phase two months ago – on 9 December – taking over police, justice and customs tasks from United Nations personnel in Kosovo.

Since then the UN mission UNMIK "has no longer had any residual powers in the area of police and customs and will soon hand over to EULEX all its remaining powers in the area of justice, thus ensuring that Kosovo functions under a single rule of law," the MEPs noted.

EULEX judges better than UNMIK's, says Kosovo

Dutch Green MEP Joost Lagendijk, in charge of the Kosovo dossier for the European parliament, welcomed the adoption of the resolution, which he said was "of great importance."

"It gives solid backing to EULEX, which has a vital task in terms of policing, as well as for judicial authorities and customs authorities in Kosovo," Mr Lagendijk stated.

"The mission is dealing with drawn-out lawsuits concerning property and inter-ethnic violence. Both Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo will benefit from EULEX," he added.

Meanwhile, officials and legal professionals in Kosovo have said say they find the EULEX-operated courts better than UNMIK's judicial authorities, according to news portal Balkan Insight.

"There are great differences from the previous judiciary," Osman Kryeziu, chief prosecutor in Pristina's District Court, was quoted as saying.

"There's less bureaucracy, more cooperation and commitment to work. EULEX judges have a completely different working culture," he added.

For his part, Azem Vllasi, a lawyer in Pristina who worked in both the UNMIK and EULEX judicial systems, as well as in the local one, told Balkan Insight that EULEX was already proving to have the most professional one.

"My experience shows there are essential differences. There is more professionalism and greater obedience to the law and regulations [with EULEX]," Mr Vllasi said.

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.

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