23rd Nov 2017

EU warned against turning Kosovo into a 'protectorate'

  • Around 2 million people live in Kosovo, the vast majority of them support independence from Serbia (Photo: UNMIK)

With Kosovo set to declare independence on Sunday (17 February) and the EU expected to send a police and civilian mission there shortly, a well-known Balkans analyst has warned the 27-nation bloc against turning the province into an EU "protectorate", whose self-governing powers would be almost non-existent.

While the number of statements indicating that Kosovo will declare independence on Sunday has been steadily increasing, Kosovar newspapers have reported extensively how this is expected to happen.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The province's independence will come in two stages, local media reported on Monday (11 February).

First, Kosovo's parliament will on Sunday afternoon adopt a declaration of its intent to proclaim independence.

The declaration will only enter into force in March – after Kosovo adopts more than 30 laws, as well as a constitution, based on the plan for Pristina's supervised independence put forward last year by former UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

According to Kosovo daily Koha Ditore, after the declaration is adopted by Kosovo's assembly on Sunday, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci will address the media, and the speech will be followed by fireworks late into the evening.

A concert by Kosovo's philharmonic orchestra, which will play Beethoven's Ode to joy – the EU's anthem – is set to be one of the highlights of the celebrations, Bulgarian national TV reports.

EU mission to be given final authorisation

Meanwhile, by Monday (18 February) at the latest, the EU is expected to give its final "operational" green light to a 1,800-strong EU police and civilian mission to Kosovo – composed of policemen, judges and prosecutors whose task will be to strengthen stability in Kosovo and to ensure that democratic standards are observed there.

The decision may be taken earlier however, before the expected declaration of independence.

Diplomatic sources have told Reuters that the 27-nation bloc will use a low-profile procedure to approve the operations plan this week.

It "will be adopted this week by written procedure", one official has said.

But the EU mission – opposed by Serbia as well as Russia – has already been criticised by some analysts.

Kosovo-an EU protectorate?

According to Gerald Knaus, chairman of the European Stability Initiative – a non-profit policy institute known for its analyses and research work on South East Europe, the EU's mission is flawed.

Blind implementation of Mr Ahtisaari plan together with the presence of the EU mission could eventually result in Kosovo becoming a "failed EU protectorate", Mr Knaus argued at a conference organised by the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies on Monday (11 February).

The EU mission will have the power to reverse operational decisions taken by the local authorities and to assume other responsibilities independently or in support of the Kosovo authorities, the researcher explained.

In the end, the mission "can basically do what it defines is needed in terms of defending the rule of law in its own understanding," he said.

It is also unclear at this stage how long its mandate would last, as it is has not been agreed what the length of mandate should be based upon.

Ultimately, between the EU mission and the International Civilian Office foreseen by the Ahtisaari plan, which would dispose of important executive powers, "post-status Kosovo will not be independent in any sense," Mr Knaus argued.

"International officials are there to stay in the long term," he said, adding that the whole situation is unlikely to be beneficial for Kosovo's weak economy.

It will be up to the EU - which "is going to be responsible, it's assuming an immense amount of executive authority, it is going to be the real authority in this society in term of its powers" – to prevent Kosovo from becoming "one of the most isolated places in the world," the analyst concluded.

Mali blames West for chaos in Libya

Mali's foreign minister Abdoulaye Diop told the EU in Brussels that the lack of vision and planning following the Nato-led bombing campaign in Libya helped trigger the current migration and security crisis.


The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  5. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  6. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  7. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  10. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  11. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  12. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!

Latest News

  1. Berlin risks being 'culprit' for stalling EU, warns Green MEP
  2. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  3. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks
  4. LuxLeaks trial re-opens debate on whistleblowers' protection
  5. Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit
  6. EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit
  7. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  8. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'