Friday

14th Dec 2018

Opinion

Kosovo needs special partnership with Germany

  • Ordinary Kosovars dream of going to live in a normal country (Photo: morbin)

Germany - the EU's strongest economy and the main decision-maker on the euro crisis - should take charge of EU intervention in the Western Balkans by putting Kosovo on its own two feet.

What Berlin 20 years ago proposed the EU should do with Albania, it should now do on the EU's behalf with Kosovo - create a bilateral "special partnership" designed to revive Kosovo's economy and society.

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 pact should have at its core a 20-year-long strategy for fully remodelling Kosovo's political and economic landscape.

Germany should install its experts in key Kosovo government departments.

They should focus on economic and social affairs. They should accelerate EU-mandated reforms and strive to attract real investment from EU countries.

Education - in line with Germany's own model of "education in the service of the economy" - must also be a top priority.

The German taskforce should show no mercy in fighting the Kosovar monster of organised crime and corruption.

The EU is currently trying to create a legal base to extend the life of its Kosovo police mission (Eulex) by including it in Kosovo's constitution. But Kosovar politicians and the general public are resisting the move.

The special partnership could push this through.

The time to take the step is now.

The internationally-supervised independence of this new country, which has already consumed billions in EU taxpayers' money, is coming to an end.

But Kosovo is unable to manage its own affairs and lacks any long term political and economic vision.

After 13 years of peace, four years of supervised independence and €5 billion of international aid, Kosovo is the most underdeveloped place on the continent.

Its rift with Serbia over Kosovo's ethnic-Serb-dominated north adds an extra dimension to the problem - the risk of renewed instability in a volatile region.

Too many cooks spoil the broth

There are six reasons for this disaster-in-the-making:

First, a messy international presence originating in the divisions at the UN Security Council over Kosovo's status;

Second, the absence of a mature political generation which is up to the job of handling Kosovo's economy, creating normal state institutions and law and order;

Third, lack of local and international will to fight corruption and organised crime. Both the locals and the internationals are in it up their necks;

Fourth; lack of a credible EU or Nato membership perspective due to non-recognition of Kosovo by five EU and Nato members;

Fifth, mischief-making by Serbia, especially in the north;

Finally: EU enlargement fatigue, made worse by the euro crisis, and evident in almost every EU member state in the de facto downgrading of EU foreign policy objectives.

While Kosovar politicians dream of EU visa liberalisation "in the long term," ordinary Kosovars dream of getting the hell out as quickly as possible to go and live in a normal country instead.

Kosovars are grateful for the Nato bombers which brought peace.

But this state of affairs says all one needs to know about what Brussels, Washington, New York (or the UN) and Pristina have achieved here since 1999.

If, with German help, Kosovo makes proper use of its natural resources, it can stop wasting EU money and spend its own money on the people who fought and died here for a better future not long ago.

Meanwhile, the fate of Kosovo is about more than Kosovo itself - it is a measure of the EU's ability to conduct meaningful foreign policy in its most intimate neighbourhood.

And the idea of a German-sponsored reform process is not a fantasy.

Berlin actually proposed in 1992 that the EU should do this with Albania, but other EU countries, led by France, rejected the idea. So what do we have instead?

Albania is in the grip of a perpetual political crisis. Bosnia is in the same if not in a worse situation.

Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia also face growing inter-ethnic tensions. And Serbia is manipulating ethnic Serbs in Bosnia and Kosovo to sabotage EU state-building. Its new nationalistic leadership does not bode well.

Good neighbours

There is a saying in Kosovo: "Nobody needs a neighbour who has problems."

The EU, which has ever-bigger problems of its own, does not need or want a neighbour like the Western Balkans in its present state. But neither can it pretend the Western Balkans does not exist.

For the sake of its own credibility and for the future stability and prosperity of Europe as a whole, the EU should drastically simplify the way it handles this region.

Get the international mob out of Kosovo. Let Germany do the job.

Ekrem Krasniqi is the owner of Balkans news agency dtt-net.com and a contributor to EUobserver

EU presses Serbia on reform

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy encouraged Serbia’s Prime Minister Ivica Dačić in Brussels on Tuesday to step up reforms in its path to EU membership and open up greater dialogue with Kosovo.

Kosovo to Serbia: Time to face reality

Kosovo's foreign minister has said the end of supervised independence should make Serbia realise it can never divide Kosovo or get it back.

News in Brief

  1. EU invests €20m in AI software for self-driving cars
  2. Belgian PM 'not optimistic', urges 'no deal' Brexit preparedness
  3. Romanian president expects no Brexit summit in January
  4. Swedish MPs reject Lofven to lead new government
  5. EU commission's Selmayr 'must resign', MEPs say
  6. ECB to reinvest €2.5tn from eurozone stimulus
  7. Macron sails through no-confidence vote
  8. Protests erupt in Hungary over labour laws

Brexit, migration, cities - and the UN pact

It's not surprising that a handful of nationalist European governments – Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Italy – have followed Trump's lead in rejecting the UN's migration pact, to be formally adopted in Marrakech next week.

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. EU needs election-meddling stress tests
  2. Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists
  3. EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit
  4. Rutte: New EU sanctions are informal 'Magnitsky law'
  5. EU summit hits asylum fatigue as deadlock continues
  6. Battered May seeks Brexit 'assurances' from EU
  7. Lost in Brexit chaos - abortion rights in Northern Ireland
  8. Court confirms EU illegally relaxed diesel emission rules

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