Friday

18th Jan 2019

France and NATO welcome Ahtisaari plan for Kosovo future

France and NATO have explicitly welcomed UN diplomat Martti Ahtisaari's roadmap for the future of Kosovo after he unveiled a draft version of the text in Vienna on Friday (26 January), but other EU states are keeping quiet while Russia and Serbia want to delay the next round of talks.

The Ahtisaari blueprint - which is still subject to change - proposes that Kosovo should remain under international supervision for an unspecified period of time but should gradually acquire the trappings of statehood, such as a flag, an anthem, a constitution and a NATO-trained army.

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

The roadmap suggests Pristina should be entitled to sign international treaties and to apply for membership of bodies such as the EU, the UN, the IMF and the World Bank but stops short of recommending that Kosovo should become "independent," Kosovo daily Koha Ditore and major European newswires report.

It also proposes making Albanian and Serbian the official languages, setting up protection zones around Serb religious monuments, allowing Serb municipalities to receive funds from Belgrade via Pristina, run their own police forces and make their own decisions on education and healthcare.

The text's ambiguity on the key question of sovereignty is designed to soothe tension at an early stage in the negotiation process, with Mr Ahtisaari set to start talks on the roadmap with Belgrade and Pristina this Friday and to convert his document into a final proposal for a UN security resolution in March.

A UN resolution cannot create a new country no matter what Mr Ahtisaari recommends, but it can annul the previous resolution 1244 that guarantees Serbia's "territorial integrity" paving the way for Kosovo to declare independence and for EU states or the US to recognise it as a sovereign state.

EU role

The UN took over Kosovo in 1999 after NATO intervened to stop a Serb crackdown against the ethnic Albanian population that makes up 90 percent of the 2 million-strong region. NATO still keeps 17,000 soldiers in the province, which saw flashes of ethnic violence as late as autumn 2006.

The EU is expected to take over from the UN and NATO once the UN security council makes up its mind, putting in place a special envoy who can veto government decisions and who will run a 1,000 man strong EU police force on the model of a previous EU set-up in Bosnia.

EU states France, the UK, Germany and Italy are part of the UN's so-called contact group on Kosovo together with the US and Russia, but France is the only EU member to explicitly welcome Ahtisaari's plan with foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy saying on Friday "the proposals of Mr Ahtisaari go in the right direction."

NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer also pledged "full unity behind Ahtisaari and the process he has laid out," but the other EU states are waiting to see what comes out of the Belgrade/Pristina talks and an EU foreign ministers' meeting in February before speaking out.

The Russia factor

Meanwhile, Russia has sided with Serbia in saying that any bilateral talks on the UN roadmap should wait until Belgrade forms a new government coalition following inconclusive elections on 21 January - a process that could take as long as 90 days under the Serb constitution.

Acting Serb prime minister Vojislav Kostunica has refused to meet with Mr Ahtisaari at the end of this week saying he no longer has the authority to make decisions, while even the pro-EU president Boris Tadic - who has agreed to meet Ahtisaari - says he is opposed to Kosovo independence.

"We will not subscribe to a decision unacceptable for Belgrade neither in the contact group nor in the UN security council," a Russian diplomat told Balkans agency DTT-NET.COM. "We are not for independence or against it, but for a solution which would come from a mutually acceptable agreement between both sides."

"The results of the status settlement for Kosovo should have a universal character," he added, repeating a thinly-veiled threat that Kosovo independence could see Moscow push for a similar solution to the pro-Russian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and Transdniestria in Moldova.

NATO troops on alert

Any delays could aggravate Kosovo Albanian frustration on independence however, with Pristina's ethnic-Albanian PM and ex-guerrilla general Agim Ceku saying that "There are no more reasons to delay the status process."

The UN broke its promise to issue the Ahtisaari plan last year, opting to wait for the Serb elections to take place first, with NATO this weekend putting its troops in Kosovo - the so-called KFOR unit - on alert.

"KFOR is prepared for all eventualities," NATO boss Mr Scheffer said on Monday, Reuters reports. "Let nobody in Kosovo have any illusions that they should test KFOR."

Let Puigdemont fight elections, Nobel winner says

Spain should allow Catalonia's deposed political leaders to return freely home and participate in the upcoming December elections, Finnish former president and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Martti Ahtisaari, has advised.

Putin tests new missile to frighten Europe

Russia has tested a "hypersonic" missile capable of a nuclear strike anywhere in Europe, in what Russian president Vladimir Putin called "a great New Year's present for the country".

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us