Stanley's blog

Recognition of Kosovo’s independence is an unfortunate solution, but there is currently no better a solution.

It is easy to say that EU foreign policy has failed because we could not unanimously agree this recognition. But is it to be expected that Spain and Cyprus could join in? Or some of the central European states?

The EU has a common commercial policy, but that does not mean that the Member States agree all the time. The difference is that the common commercial policy is decided by qualified majority vote, whereas foreign policy is intergovernmental and requires unanimity.

The aspect which, in my view, holds the answer to the above questions, is whether the 27 worked constructively together in seeking a solution. I would suggest that the answer is Yes. After the rejection of the Martti Ahtisaari proposal by Serbia in 2007, the US, France, Germany and the UK made clear their intention to recognise the new state. Once the Kosovars knew this, they had no incentive to make concessions to Serbia in the negotiations. In fact, the US effectively decided some years ago that it would recognise Kosovo’s independence. Having said this, the US and EU aims are similar but not necessarily the means to achieve them.

It is understandable that a small number of countries emphatically reject Kosovo’s independence as being contrary to international law. Neither the EU nor the US has provided any reasonable justification to back this position. Even the legal basis for the EU mission is legally doubtful (the Dutch raised this issue in December). Kosovo has separated from Serbia without its consent; and the UN has failed to endorse its independence because of strong protests by Serbia and Russia, backed by China. However, the question should have been brought before the UN Security Council, as the legitimacy, if not the legality, of the independence would have increased with a resolution supported by a large majority, despite the veto(s). The EU foreign ministers have clearly stated that Kosovo is a special case that should not become a precedent but that may fall on deaf ears in Spain, Cyprus…

Hopefully, Serbia will not be able to do anything seriously to sabotage the process, and the Russian bear will growl but not bite. The EU has not sufficiently talked to Moscow and listened to its serious concerns and should remedy this, confirming that it will not recognise any breakaway Russian statelets. The European Council should at its next meeting reiterate that the recognition of Kosovo does not create a precedent for other territories.

The 15 000 strong NATO force, a 1 500 police force from the EU (EULEX) and an international High Representative ‘overseeing’ the country, should assure law and order. However, massive international financial assistance will be (possibly permanently) required as Kosovo appears to have little chance of becoming economically viable in the foreseeable future.

Serbia and Kosovo both joining the EU would change the context of the problem and facilitate relations between the two countries. The Serbs are expected, after their first negative reactions, not to give up their plan to join the EU.

How right former British Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, was in 1991 when he argued that no former Yugoslav territory should be recognised except in a complete package recognising all their statuses. But Germany insisted on a unilateral recognition of Croatia (and with it, Slovenia).

Kosovo won’t really be independent for years, will not be able to join all the international organisations and will continue to be economically dependent. It will be the first EU protectorate. Hardly a desirable outcome but the best on offer. What might have been is…history.

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Comments

  1. Independence was decided back in 1998 (and promised ‘unofficially’ by the US), not recently. EU member states can congratulate themselves on partnering the US in emasculating the United Nations further (lest us not forget how monitoring of elections was wrested away from the UN by the OSCE and since used for political manipulation, i.e. ‘generally free and fair’ 1996 election in Russia where the ‘right man’ won). The UN cannot protect the West now.

    EU policy is now a clone of Tito’s policy, Smaller Serbia, Bigger Yugoslavia (EU in this case).

    It failed then, it will fail again.

    Kosovo was an economic dead-weight on the former Yugoslavia and now the EU has take up the subsidy challenge, i.e. to fund into the foreseeable future a dependent territory (Kosovo) at the cost of billions and billions of Euros that will no doubt be hidden within the ‘Structural Funds’.

    The European taxpayer have no say in this.

    Of course, I could be wrong and Kosovo will become a paradise and a haven of peace that retired EU Commissioners, film stars and oligarchs will build their villas there and retire… Let’s not then mention former Ombudsman for Kosovo (2000-2005), Marek Anton Nowicki’s parting shot, “Kosovo: Pro Memoria”…

  2. The moment one sees words “there was no currently no better solution” or one of several variations of “there were no alternatives” – a reasonably informed reader KNOWS that the writer has not done his or her homework. There were promising alternatives proposed, but never seriously considered by people in power to decide. See, for example, the website of the Transnational Foundation….

  3. I have read the diatribe of Johan, Galtung, Hakan Wiberg and Jan Oberg on the Transnational Foundation website, which, inter alia, denounces Martti Ahtisaari’s mediation of Kosovo’s future status as “partial and non-objective”, but offers no better or indeed alternative solution, except by implication, preserving the status quo

  4. It is a good comment on Kosovo, thank you. All I want is that all countries in the world live in peace. I don’t want any wars. People should aspire to prosperity.

  5. Your article is thought provoking. I can’t but agree that recognition of Kosovo’s independence is an unfortunate solution, but there is currently no better a solution. And I agree that it will be the first EU protectorate.

  6. “What might have been is…history.” You are right. But it is a pity that Kosovo won’t really be independent for years, will not be able to join all the international organisations and will continue to be economically dependent.

  7. Thanks for interesting post. You have raised indeed serious problems. There were promising alternatives proposed, but never seriously considered by people in power to decide.

  8. Thank you for your article and I have mixed your point of you about this problem. You of course each country can follow this example in future and you can’t stop it. But at the same time I think it deals with the procrastination in the past.

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