Sunday

18th Apr 2021

'Map of southeast Europe is finished,' Germany tells Serbia

Germany has made the strongest public link so far between Serbia's acceptance of Kosovo independence and its EU membership bid, amid speculation that a final deal will involve a new status for the Serb-dominated northern part of Kosovo.

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle on a visit to Serbia on Thursday (26 August) told students at a speech in Belgrade University that the country has to "face reality" on Kosovo secession.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"A day will come for representatives of Belgrade and Pristina to sit at the same table and speak about the EU. It may now seem like a utopia for you, but it can be achieved. Reconciliation can succeed if you face reality. Independent Kosovo is a reality and the opinion of the International Court of Justice has uniquely confirmed it," he said.

"The map of southeastern Europe has been laid down and completed."

Later in the day following a meeting with Serb Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, he told press that: "In our view, one can only be a member of the European Union if one aims for co-operation and is prepared to resolve neighbourly difficulties co-operatively."

The Belgrade visit was part of a wide-ranging tour of the western Balkans that will also see the minister visit Pristina on Friday.

The diplomatic peregrination comes amid developments in the International Court of Justice and the UN that could move the Kosovo-Serb conflict into its end-game.

The court last month said that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 did not violate international law.

The UN is expected to discuss in September a draft Serb resolution invalidating the ICJ statement, with Serb foreign minister Vuk Jeremic continuing to talk tough on Thursday, telling reporters after meeting Mr Westerwelle that: "We are ready for a constructive dialogue with everyone, especially our European partners ... but we won't accept any changes [of UN resolution 1244 on Kosovo] that would give Kosovo an independent status."

Experts believe that Serbia is getting ready to make a deal that may involve swapping ethnic-Serb-dominated land in northern Kosovo for ethnic-Albanian-dominated land in southern Serbia and autonomous status for Serb Orthodox churches in Kosovo, however.

"There is a greater sense of political realism on the Kosovo issue today ... to the point that some officials appear to be looking creatively for ways to free Serbia honourably from the burden Kosovo has become," the International Crisis Group, a leading NGO, said in a report on Thursday.

"Neither Pristina nor Belgrade proposes this openly, but officials in both capitals have begun to speak of it quietly."

Another major issue in EU-Serb relations is Serbia's arrest of war crimes indictee Ratko Mladic, widely believed to be hiding in the country.

If Serbia hands over the fugitive, the move could be used as a card to strengthen its hand in the last stages of negotiation on Kosovo and its EU future.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us