Serbia: One step closer to the EU
28 February 2012
On February 28, the EU foreign ministers came out in favour of approving Serbia for candidate membership. The statement follows the regional cooperation agreement reached on 24 February in Brussels between Belgrade and the Kosovar capital of Pristina, in which the parties stipulate that in their relations the name "Kosovo" will be followed by an asterisk indicating that this is not a recognition of the independence of the province. Writing in the Pristina daily Koha Ditore, the analyst Veton Surroi believes that -
... the quality of Kosovo-Serbian relationships, even after a year of negotiations, has changed little. The two countries still do not recognise each other’s legitimacy, hence the need to continue the discussions to arrive at a stable relationship.
... For Pristina, the negotiations may eventually lead to its recognition by the five European countries that have not yet endorsed its independence (Cyprus, Spain, Romania, Slovakia and Greece) and the establishment of a new legal framework. The failure to define the legal status of Kosovo, however, requires a new resolution from the UN Security Council – with Serbia’s assent. The EU is still offering Kosovo the chance to join the EU and is promising it a feasibility study on its integration, though without actually opening up the Stabilisation and Association process. Serbia, however, was able to obtain EU candidate status, because it entered the negotiations with clear goals.
... Brussels entered the negotiations to unblock the status quo and do more to attract Serbia to the EU, thus demonstrating its own usefulness. Kosovo entered the negotiations without a clear definition of goals… Serbia, finally, has stayed focused on candidate status while continuing to challenge the independence, sovereignty and functionality of Kosovo – an objective it has clearly achieved. Kosovo, on the other hand, has lost its chance to normalise the situation. Each country will soon enter its election cycle – a phase of “normal” instability. Negotiations for Serbian membership in the EU will not commence unless the Serbian and Kosovar political situations are clarified and stable. And it is Brussels that will signal the time when they may sit once more around a table to unblock the status quo.