Sunday

23rd Jul 2017

Opinion

EU's Kosovo meddling risks Balkans chaos

  • The EU and US want stability in Kosovo and the Western Balkans region. (Photo: UNMIK)

Kosovo has accumulated plenty of domestic problems since the 1998-1999 independence war, but the US and EU are just making things worse by pressuring its leaders to ratify a border agreement with neighbouring Montenegro.

The border delineation was agreed in August 2015 and ratified by Montenegro's parliament four months later.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

  • Kosovo has accumulated plenty of domestic problems since the 1998-1999 independence war. (Photo: Charles Roffey)

But Kosovo's opposition has expressed serious doubts over the deal, claiming that over 8,000 hectares of land will be lost.

Before Montenegro ratified the deal, its government offered to renegotiate. But Kosovo's government ignored this friendly gesture and instead pushed forward with its attempts to ratify.

The consequences of Kosovo's parliament approving or rejecting the border deal are growing ever more serious.

If the deal is ratified next week, eventually on 11 August before the visit of US Vice-president Joseph Biden, the opposition is likely to resume violent protests. Several hundreds of opposition protesters gathered in downtown Pristina on Thursday (4 August). The protest ended peacefully as the border delineation issue was not put on the parliament’s session agenda.

If the parliament votes against it, then the government would be embarrassed and the opposition would be happy.

But the government of Montenegro would not be happy at all and would be put in uncomfortable situation just two months before elections.

The Montenegrins would not be able to implement the deal, and the pro-Russia Serb opposition would be able to attack the government of Milo Djukanovic.

Yes this whole mess is not created by Pristina nor Podgorica. It originates from the European Commission.

Trials for perfect pupils?

Three years ago, the commission set out more than 90 benchmarks for Kosovo to meet to receive visa-free travel for its citizens. Among them was the border delineation.

No such condition was placed on any other aspirant countries. Slovenia and Croatia have still border disputes unresolved. Croatia and Serbia as well. Croatia and Montenegro too.

Of course, Kosovo's leaders will do everything the US and EU ask. They are so corrupt that they are not in a position to refuse.

Yet border delineation was not the only request from Brussels. The commission also demanded that Kosovo should improve its attempts to tackle corruption and organised crime.

Will the EU and US demand criminal trials against the Kosovo leaders who have proved to be such perfect pupils?

I don’t believe so. If anybody goes on trial in the coming weeks or months on corruption charges it will not be the top leaders.

There is no rush

The EU and US want stability in Kosovo and the Western Balkans region, even if that stability brings angry protests from the opposition.

The current stability is so fragile that it could explode for any reason. If Western powers push for ratification of the border deal at any cost, it could be the issue to trigger bloodshed inside Kosovo between the opposition and the government. This could even spark border incidents with Montenegro.

The EU and the US should step back. The EU should liberalise the visas and switch to the same neutral approach over border delineation as it had with other countries in the region.

At the same time, the EU and US are wrong believing that ratification will help the government of Milo Djukanovic, whose country is expected to join Nato next year, ones all Nato member countries ratify membership protocol.

There is no rush at all, and the US and EU diplomats are completely wrong to insist on ratification. It will solve nothing. On the contrary, it will make everything worse.

I hope I’m wrong.

The author is Kosovo journalist/analyst and founder of dtt-net.com news agency on Western Balkans-EU topics

Kosovo's gloomy visa-free future

EU proposal to lift visas for Kosovars created a positive buzz in Pristina. But what will it do to improve ordinary people's lives?

EU and US need new Kosovo game plan

Kosovo is in the middle of its most serious political clash since the war. But the West's Serbia-first policy and its boycott of Kosovo opposition leaders is making matters worse.

Kosovo on the brink over Montenegro deal

Thaci government faces revolt over Montenegro deal - the straw that broke the camel's back after years of misrule and economic stagnation.

Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive

Candidates from all political families should be presenting their vision on where the Union should be headed. European socialists want to keep the Spitzenkandidat procedure for future elections.

Greece needs a new plan

Two years into its third bailout, Greece needs to combine the necessary fiscal targets with a new vision. This can be done in the context of the ongoing industrial revolution.

Greece needs a new plan

Two years into its third bailout, Greece needs to combine the necessary fiscal targets with a new vision. This can be done in the context of the ongoing industrial revolution.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary