Sunday

21st Apr 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.

EU seeks mini-trade detente with US

EU states have agreed to open trade talks with the US in a bid to rebuild relations with their oldest partner on the world stage.

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

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