29th Jun 2022

Brussels backs Kosovo bid to join international bank

  • Mr Rehn helped steer Kosovo toward declaring independence in 2008 (Photo: European Commission)

The European Commission has endorsed Kosovo's bid to join the international bank, the EBRD, as Pristina continues to strive for credibility on the world stage.

"Membership of the EBRD would be a very important step forward following Kosovo's accession last year to the IMF and the World Bank and therefore the European Commission is supportive of this objective," economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said after meeting Kosovo's finance minister, Ahmat Shala, in Brussels on Tuesday (17 August).

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Mr Shala, for his part, noted that Kosovo has entered a "new era" following an opinion by the International Court of Justice last month that its declaration of independence did not violate international law.

"We are very optimistic that Kosovo will reach the necessary votes to be part of this very important institution and hopefully the time for that, the circumstances for that [are positive] after the ICJ gave its approval and many countries sent positive signals on that," he said.

Mr Rehn, in his previous five-year-long post as EU enlargement commissioner, was one of the architects of Kosovo's 2008 unilateral declaration of independence.

Five out of the 27 EU countries and 22 out of the 63 EBRD member countries do not recognise Kosovo. But if one of the 22 EBRD non-recognisers changed position, it would be enough for Pristina to secure the 75 percent vote needed to join the London-based body.

UN membership is for the time being out of the question due to the hostility of Russia, a UN veto-wielding power, in a situation preventing Kosovo from joining other institutions, such as the International Olympic Committee, the football authority FIFA and the Internet top-line domain name authority, ICAAN.

Kosovo in 2009 did join the IMF, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank however, in developments touted by its diplomats as proof of progress toward de jure statehood.

Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in a comment for EUobserver earlier this week said the ICJ ruling should open the way for more UN members to switch sides.

"The opinion affirmed Kosovo's place in the international community, something which 69 countries have already recognised. I call on those states that have not yet done so to recognise Kosovo now," he said.

Meanwhile, some EU countries are pressing Serbia, Kosovo's former master, to fall in line if it wants to proceed on the path to EU membership.

"A small number of influential EU member states have decided to use our candidacy application as a means to impose pressure on Serbia ahead and during the debate on Kosovo at the United Nations General Assembly [in New York in September]," Serbia's deputy prime minister, Bozidar Delic, said in Serbia's Politika magazine this week.

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