BALKANS: Kosovo, the problem neighbour
17 February 2010
Two years after Kosovo's declaration of independence, the Union is still unable to come up with a coherent policy for the western Balkans. This threatens not only to scupper Serbia’s accession to the EU, but also to destabilise the region itself.
On the second anniversary of Kosovo's declaration of independence, divisions within the EU over Kosovo's status continue to deepen. Following the controversy caused by the ill-conceived strategy for the north, the so-called Quint is exerting ever more vehement diplomatic pressure on Serbia not to oppose Kosovo's independence.
By contrast, Spain, which assumed the presidency of the EU in January, advocates renewed negotiations and the search for a mutually acceptable outcome. Amid these disagreements, a key Kosovo official has warned that Albanians in Serbia's south-east are ready to join Kosovo should Serbs in the north continue to resist integration. Though a minority position within the EU, Spain's stance provides the most constructive way to resolve the Kosovo status impasse and bring lasting peace to the region.
The Quint – comprised of Britain, Germany, France, Italy and the US – recently sent a strongly worded communiqué to the Serbian foreign ministry, stating that "we have tolerated until now the Serbian aggressive rhetoric regarding Kosovo, because we believed that with time passing it could be taken off the agenda" and warning Serbia to abstain from "adventurous actions" once the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivers its verdict of the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence.
It remains unclear exactly what the Quint meant by "aggressive rhetoric" and "adventurous actions". Though Vuk Jeremic, Serbia's foreign minister, has proposed a special session of the UN General Assembly following the ICJ's verdict, with the aim of securing support for fresh negotiations over Kosovo's status, such initiatives are in keeping with Serbia's vow to pursue all peaceful, diplomatic and legal means to oppose Kosovo's independence. Read full article in the Guardian...