Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Lisbon Collapse Lets Serbia Off Hook
The EU is pressing on with its EULEX regime backing Kosovan independence on the one hand, but is, at the same time, permitting Serbia to press ahead with application for EU membership without having to recognise Kosovo. The position is totally illogical, and will not be workable, although it allows the EU to save its face for now.
The problem for the EU is that the Kosovo programme was only workable under Qualified Majority Voting. Seven EU countries are unwilling to recognise Kosovo, but if Lisbon had been ratified, or looked like being ratified, their objections could have been ignored by the other 20 EU countries, who have recognised Kosovo and were assuming that they could override the other 7.
After the Irish vote, though, the wheels are now falling off as regards the Lisbon Treaty with Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic all looking problematic, not to mention Ireland. In these circumstances, the EU finds itself unable to insist on Serbian acquiescence in Kosovan independence.
The British Ambassador, Stephen Wordsworth (Pictured), who is seen as a key EU spokesperson in Serbia, tells the story.
From B92 News Service In Belgrade -
UK Ambassador Stephen Wordsworth says recognition of Kosovo independence isn't a condition for Serbian EU accession, because the EU isn't united on the issue.
“Twenty EU members recognize Kosovo, seven do not and have no plans of doing so, at least not soon, so we cannot ask Serbia to do more than any other members are prepared to do,” Wordsworth told Tanjug in an interview.
“Serbia will be expected, however, to find a practical way to cooperate with the EU and its mission to Kosovo,” the ambassador said, adding that Serbia's stand on Kosovo had to be taken into account.
He said that despite disagreements over Kosovo's status it was necessary to find a way to establish cooperation on the resolution of practical issues to improve people's lives....
The ambassador said that the dilemma between Russia and the EU that was sometimes presented in the Serbian media, was false, as Belgrade did not have to choose between the two.
“All EU states want good relations with Russia, and it’s natural for Serbia to have good relations both with Russia and the EU,” he pointed out, stating that his Russian colleagues frequently said that they supported Serbia’s EU integration process, as well as that of other countries in the region.
“NATO’s a different matter, and the decision to join NATO is something the next Belgrade government will have to consider. Russia is concerned by NATO expansion,” Wordsworth said, while dismissing the need for any such concern, as NATO membership created possibilities for security structures to modernize and be restructured in a financially acceptable manner, and be brought under civil control.
“If Serbia wants it, the offer is on the table, and it’s up to her to decide,” said the ambassador. ENDS.
The end of Lisbon is signalling the end of the EU as the dominant power broker of the Balkans. NATO is reaching the limits of its influence with Germany and France unwilling to commit troops in Afghanistan. Into the vacuum, Russian influence can only grow.
Serbia meanwhile looks like being able to run with the hare and ride with the hounds, and thanks to Ireland, has been able to throw off the EU 'you must recognise Kosovo' hook.