The position of EU countries on Kosovo’s status?

Prishtina, 23 April 2004 – One of the most important Kosovar dailies “Koha Ditore” reports on the front page that the European Union countries have different opinions about the speed of resolving Kosovo’s final status. In a report from an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers, the paper says that while the official position of the European Union is ‘standards before status’, some countries such as Slovenia, Hungary and Luxembourg suggest that the status is addressed as soon as possible; the Netherlands want to immediately start thinking about what the status will be and the three big countries of the European Union, which are at the same time members of the Contact Group, share the opinion of German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer who said that Kosovars should be told that status doesn’t automatically imply independence.

According to “Koha Ditore”, the only country that has categorically opposed the independence of Kosovo so far is Spain, but the new socialist government is expected to have a more flexible position.

The paper says that no EU country has categorically opposed the independence of Kosovo, because of two reasons – pragmatism and the wish not to prejudge the issue of status, and they still maintain a flexible position on several options. According to unnamed diplomats, Spain had opposed independence for Kosovo fearing that it could have implications in several regions in Spain that want to become independent. Other countries however don’t think that Kosovo’s status can be related to this. There is a new government in Spain, and according to the paper Spain hasn’t reacted during the discussions on Kosovo at the latest EU summit, a sign that the new socialist government led by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapateros is going to be more flexible toward the possibility that Kosovo’s final status could be independence.

“Koha Ditore” reports further that EU diplomats have pointed out two reasons due to which the issue of addressing Kosovo’s final status should be not be accelerated and why support should be given to the policy of standards before status. The first reason is that if this issue was accelerated after the March violence, it could be perceived as yielding before violence. ‘We must not allow Kosovars to turn the policy of standards before status into a policy of riots before status, because we must not tolerate violence,’ several EU diplomats were quoted as saying.

The second reason of sticking to 2005 as the date to start discussions on status is the necessity to return Kosovo Serbs to the political process in Kosovo. ‘If it weren’t for the March riots, it is believed that the issue of status could’ve been advanced faster,’ added the paper. “Koha Ditore” also says that the name of now-dismissed KTA executive manager Marie Fucci was mentioned during the meeting of EU foreign ministers. ‘Even though they publicly refuse to admit this, it is said that EU foreign ministers saluted Fucci’s dismissal from duty in Kosovo, although it was added that Holkeri did this without consulting Lambsdorff. The European Union has welcomed this step because it represents cooperation with Kosovo Albanians, because Kosovo’s moderate leaders, as Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi is considered to be, supported the idea of removing Fucci from her post after seeing her as an obstacle to the process of privatization. It is also said that the EU and UN are blaming each other for the failure and delays in the process of privatization in Kosovo. The UN reportedly said that this was a job for the EU which heads the pillar for economy, whereas on the other hand, the EU claims that it has always supported privatization as a necessary step but that it always faced legal obstacles from the UN in New York,’ said the paper.