Wednesday, 7 November 2007

EU to recognise independent Kosovo?

Until now, the EU has kept its cards close to its chest on Kosovo but now senior EU sources say that 25 out 27 EU member states will recognise Kosovo if, as promised, it unilaterally declares its independence in December. These states have shown their hand as negotiations are continuing between Serbs and Albanians over the fate of the province: as throughout the history of the long protracted break-up of Yugoslavia, the Great Powers have preferred to intervene in the negotiating process rather than allowing it to run its course. Naturally the certainty that the Kosovo Albanians will have their independence recognised will greatly bolster their hand in the talks. The United States has already said that it will recognise Kosovo’s independence once proclaimed.

The Serbian government has reacted strongly against these speculations, saying that such a step would de-stabilise the region, break international law and set a dangerous precedent. Russia has similarly warned the West against encouraging “a dramatic and unforeseeable development” if Kosovo’s independence is recognised. The German member of the UN “Troika” which is overseeing the negotiations, Wolfgang Ischinger (the German ambassador to the Court of St. James), has said that he doubts whether the two sides will come to any agreement by 10th December, the deadline set by the UN Secretary-General. The foreign policy spokesman of the German Christian Democratic Union, Eckart von Klaeden, has said, “The overwhelming majority of the EU states and the USA will adopt the same position. I believe this is probable. Serbia and Russia should not gamble on there being a split within the EU – they will have no success.” [Stefanie Bolzen & Christoph Schiltz, Die Welt, 24 October 2007]

The leak comes at a very odd moment. Serbia is still governed by “pro-European” forces, who joined together after losing the last elections in order to prevent the Radical Party from gaining power. The Radicals, who are strongly opposed to EU membership, won the last Serbian elections in January. The KoŇ°tunica government has struggled to keep his government in power, and his pro-EU policy in place, in spite of the fact that the same EU seems determined to slice off some of Serbia’s most historic territory. Perhaps in an attempt to square the circle, the European Parliament has issued a report on Serbia which is very friendly to that country, saying that it has made great progress in co-operating with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. This means that Serbia’s EU chances are theoretically improved. The commissar for enlargement, Olli Rehn, has said that the time when an association agreement can be signed is now near. This, he said, would be “a political milestone” in Serbia’s relations with the EU. In the European Parliament’s report, any linkage between the Kosovo issue and EU accession is strictly avoided, as the MEP Hannes Swoboda emphasised. [Der Standard, 15 October 2007]

-- An excerpt from Dr. John Laughland's Intelligence Digest. For a free e-mail subscription to the Intelligence Digest, please click here --

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