World
Pyotr Iskenderov
July 22, 2013
© Photo: Public domain

The conclusion of the Brussels agreements between Belgrade and Pristina and their subsequent ratification by the parliaments of both sides involved in the negotiations has given the European Union a convenient excuse to absolve itself of all formal responsibility for what is happening in Kosovo. Judging by the information coming from Brussels, the European Union has taken the «crucial» decision to phase out its own police mission in the region (EULEX). The only issue still unresolved is that of deadlines. In their letter to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and representatives of the international «quintet» of mediating countries, Pristina’s political leaders called for the withdrawal of mission personnel by 31 December 2013. For the time being, Brussels is planning on maintaining its formal presence in Kosovo until June 2014 [1].

Disagreements about deadlines are workable and will obviously be resolved over the next few months. Much more important is the trend itself of phasing out the international peacekeeping presence in Kosovo, which has clearly been gathering momentum in recent years. On the surface, this process looks like concessions by the leaders of the UN, EU and NATO to Kosovo radicals led by the Vetëvendosje (trans. Self-determination) movement. The leader of this movement, Albin Kurti, constantly criticises the UN, European Union and other agencies for what he believes is their unnecessary interference in the process of establishing «Kosovo’s young democracy».

However, the roots of what is happening in Kosovo go much deeper than this. They are of a geopolitical nature and have certain nuances for all of the main architects of the «Kosovo project».

At the present time, the US is engaged in more global issues and, for them, the Kosovo issue has been resolved once and for all. Moreover, Washington is able to avoid getting too involved in the details of going through Serbia’s application to the European Union. When you take into account the belief currently holding sway in the White House that there is a possibility and even a desirability of taking further advantage of the radical Albanian factor to reshape the Balkans in a way that would be advantageous to the US, then the withdrawal of the EU mission from Kosovo within the framework of demands by Vetëvendosje is completely in America’s interests. Especially since the US Bondsteel military base is going to be staying in Kosovo, unlike the police officers, judges, advisers and other EU personnel.

NATO’s interests in Kosovo are also primarily of a military nature and are completely in keeping with the plans of the Kosovo separatists. According to available sources, Kosovo’s leaders are intending to see through plans to convert its Kosovo Security Force into a full-fledged army by the end of 2013, although NATO leaders, through its Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, are half-heartedly assuring the international community that there is not expected to be any change to the status of these forces. «My expectations are for the Kosovo Security Force to continue implementing its current mandate, which is defending the civilian population, reacting to natural disasters and other similar activities,» Rasmussen declared during a recent visit to Pristina. However, as acknowledged by representatives of NATO themselves, in accordance with his status Rasmussen does not have the right to make any speeches in public regarding changes to the KSF’s mandate [2]. In reality, the process of transforming Kosovo into a military foothold for NATO is continuing at full speed – regardless of the presence of the EULEX mission in the self-proclaimed state [3].

As far as the European Union is concerned, its intention to wind down its mission in Kosovo is more cynical than America’s completely transparent and clear-cut plans. The EU’s desire to distance itself as much as possible from the Kosovo business is nothing other than the EU absolving itself of responsibility for what is happening to Kosovo Serbs and providing itself with an alibi should there be any future investigations involving Belgrade. The withdrawal of the EULEX mission from Pristina means that from this point on, Brussels will regard the «Serbia» and «Kosovo» files as completely isolated cases, independent of each other. The northern areas of Kosovo, populated by Serbs, will be handled exclusively within the framework of Kosovo’s central political, judicial and law enforcement agencies – which in principle removes the need for any kind of external mediators and guarantors.

In addition, the current trend of phasing out the role of the EU as the Kosovo organisation is discernible in a number of other areas – particularly those related to the self-proclaimed state’s admittance to the UN. Sources in Brussels have hinted that the way forward on this issue will no longer depend on EU bureaucracy and Baroness Ashton personally, but on individual states that «have greater ambitions and want to see more» [4]. Clearly, the most ambitious role in today’s European Union belongs to Germany, and this does not promise any particular illusions for Serbia.

So the European Union’s policy regarding Kosovo is currently convenient for everybody – except for Kosovo Serbs and, obviously, those forces within Serbia itself who are not inclined to believe that the European integration of the country is a crucial foreign policy priority.

References:

[1] Lajm, 16.07.2013
[2] Koha Ditore, 04.07.2013
[3] Zёri, 03.07.2013
[4] Koha Ditore, 03.07.2013
 

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
The EU in Kosovo: Leaving in order to stay

The conclusion of the Brussels agreements between Belgrade and Pristina and their subsequent ratification by the parliaments of both sides involved in the negotiations has given the European Union a convenient excuse to absolve itself of all formal responsibility for what is happening in Kosovo. Judging by the information coming from Brussels, the European Union has taken the «crucial» decision to phase out its own police mission in the region (EULEX). The only issue still unresolved is that of deadlines. In their letter to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and representatives of the international «quintet» of mediating countries, Pristina’s political leaders called for the withdrawal of mission personnel by 31 December 2013. For the time being, Brussels is planning on maintaining its formal presence in Kosovo until June 2014 [1].

Disagreements about deadlines are workable and will obviously be resolved over the next few months. Much more important is the trend itself of phasing out the international peacekeeping presence in Kosovo, which has clearly been gathering momentum in recent years. On the surface, this process looks like concessions by the leaders of the UN, EU and NATO to Kosovo radicals led by the Vetëvendosje (trans. Self-determination) movement. The leader of this movement, Albin Kurti, constantly criticises the UN, European Union and other agencies for what he believes is their unnecessary interference in the process of establishing «Kosovo’s young democracy».

However, the roots of what is happening in Kosovo go much deeper than this. They are of a geopolitical nature and have certain nuances for all of the main architects of the «Kosovo project».

At the present time, the US is engaged in more global issues and, for them, the Kosovo issue has been resolved once and for all. Moreover, Washington is able to avoid getting too involved in the details of going through Serbia’s application to the European Union. When you take into account the belief currently holding sway in the White House that there is a possibility and even a desirability of taking further advantage of the radical Albanian factor to reshape the Balkans in a way that would be advantageous to the US, then the withdrawal of the EU mission from Kosovo within the framework of demands by Vetëvendosje is completely in America’s interests. Especially since the US Bondsteel military base is going to be staying in Kosovo, unlike the police officers, judges, advisers and other EU personnel.

NATO’s interests in Kosovo are also primarily of a military nature and are completely in keeping with the plans of the Kosovo separatists. According to available sources, Kosovo’s leaders are intending to see through plans to convert its Kosovo Security Force into a full-fledged army by the end of 2013, although NATO leaders, through its Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, are half-heartedly assuring the international community that there is not expected to be any change to the status of these forces. «My expectations are for the Kosovo Security Force to continue implementing its current mandate, which is defending the civilian population, reacting to natural disasters and other similar activities,» Rasmussen declared during a recent visit to Pristina. However, as acknowledged by representatives of NATO themselves, in accordance with his status Rasmussen does not have the right to make any speeches in public regarding changes to the KSF’s mandate [2]. In reality, the process of transforming Kosovo into a military foothold for NATO is continuing at full speed – regardless of the presence of the EULEX mission in the self-proclaimed state [3].

As far as the European Union is concerned, its intention to wind down its mission in Kosovo is more cynical than America’s completely transparent and clear-cut plans. The EU’s desire to distance itself as much as possible from the Kosovo business is nothing other than the EU absolving itself of responsibility for what is happening to Kosovo Serbs and providing itself with an alibi should there be any future investigations involving Belgrade. The withdrawal of the EULEX mission from Pristina means that from this point on, Brussels will regard the «Serbia» and «Kosovo» files as completely isolated cases, independent of each other. The northern areas of Kosovo, populated by Serbs, will be handled exclusively within the framework of Kosovo’s central political, judicial and law enforcement agencies – which in principle removes the need for any kind of external mediators and guarantors.

In addition, the current trend of phasing out the role of the EU as the Kosovo organisation is discernible in a number of other areas – particularly those related to the self-proclaimed state’s admittance to the UN. Sources in Brussels have hinted that the way forward on this issue will no longer depend on EU bureaucracy and Baroness Ashton personally, but on individual states that «have greater ambitions and want to see more» [4]. Clearly, the most ambitious role in today’s European Union belongs to Germany, and this does not promise any particular illusions for Serbia.

So the European Union’s policy regarding Kosovo is currently convenient for everybody – except for Kosovo Serbs and, obviously, those forces within Serbia itself who are not inclined to believe that the European integration of the country is a crucial foreign policy priority.

References:

[1] Lajm, 16.07.2013
[2] Koha Ditore, 04.07.2013
[3] Zёri, 03.07.2013
[4] Koha Ditore, 03.07.2013