2nd Oct 2023

MEPs demand supervised sovereignty for Kosovo

Members of the European Parliament have adopted a report demanding that the disputed province of Kosovo be granted "supervised sovereignty."

It is the strongest expression of EU pro-independence feeling yet, with the European Commission and member states remaining shy of such a strong term.

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319 MEPs on Thursday (29 March) voted in favour of having a clear label on post-status Kosovo, while 268 - mainly from Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Romania and Slovakia - were against.

The vote comes just days after UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari proposed "supervised independence" for the territory, which is currently a province of Serbia administrated by the UN.

Dutch green MEP Joost Lagendijk, who drafted the report, expressed his satisfaction over the fact that the European Parliament chose to send an unambiguous signal to EU capitals, while saying it is the "first step" to a "united Europe" over the Kosovo issue.

He stressed that if the EU fails to act as a bloc, Russia will "cleverly" use member states' divisions as an excuse to postpone or veto the UN decision on future status of Kosovo.

The EU will face a key test for its united stance on the issue on Friday (30 March), when foreign ministers are due to discuss Kosovo's future at a meeting in the German city of Bremen.

Some member states - notably Slovakia, Spain and Greece - remain against Kosovo being put on the road to independence.

Slovakia has recently emerged as a vocal opponent of independence, with its parliament this week adopting a declaration saying "the future status of Kosovo must respect Serbia's legitimate demands." Bratislava currently has a seat in the UN Security Council - the body entitled to carry the ultimate decision on Kosovo.

According to the Slovak declaration, "the possibility of negotiations has not been exhausted", while "the full and unsupervised independence of Kosovo is not in the interest of the region".

On the other hand, EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn stressed that the essence of decision on Kosovo is European unity. "We must continue to support president Ahtisaari and his proposal with consistent determination in the UN Security Council", he said.

Brussels believes that only a united European front could get Russia and China on board, as both Moscow and Beijing have objections to supervised independence.

Earlier today, Moscow confirmed its "principled position against imposing on the sides any kinds of scenario, so that a solution is worked out that would be acceptable both to Belgrade and Prishtina," according to a statement from the Kremlin.

The EU's takeover plan unveiled

Meanwhile, an internal report by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and commissioner Rehn has revealed the bloc is well-advanced in planning to replace the 3,000-strong UN administration that has been running Kosovo since 1999.

According to the document, it will take roughly 120 days for the UN to hand over responsibilities to the EU, press reports say.

"The transition period could also be highly sensitive in political and security terms... There could be interest of extremist groups on both sides in provoking security incidents and inciting members of communities to leave Kosovo", the Financial times quotes the Solana-Rehn report.

Mr Rehn speaking to the European Parliament on Wednesday (28 March) also revealed a few details on the operation in post-status Kosovo - which constitutes the EU's largest civilian crisis management mission ever.

The EU's overall presence in Kosovo is likely to run to the order of 1,500 to 2,000 international staff, including police officers and judges, while early estimates suggest that international grant assistance of up to around €1.3 - 1.5 billion may be required for the first three years after the status is implemented.

"At the EU foreign ministers' meeting on Friday (30 March), I will stress that resources cannot come from the EU budget alone. EU Member States and our international community partners must share the responsibility", Mr Rehn said.


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