February 21, 2008

Jan Mainus Logt: Kosova in the EU

Ten kilometres high

Kosovo is keeping us all busy right now. I was in Slovenia for talks with some friends from the Balkan region and it was the subject on everyone's lips. This Sunday will see the unilateral declaration of independence. It seems inevitable now that all talks with Belgrade have come to nothing.

We cannot expect the Kosovans, after all that happened (Milosovic etc) to go back to Serbian rule. This is the reality that informs our social democratic debates about south east Europe with colleagues here.

But it's not east for anyone. Macedonian party leaders for example are worried about the political consequences for their country. With a large Albanian minority, that Kosovo wants to recognise, but also with traditionally good relations with Serbia.

Take the Serbians in Bosnia-Herzegovina. How should they react? The political stability of several countries depends on whether Belgrade reacts hard, politically and economically.

In the plane back, I have a wonderful view of sunlit Balkan boundary mountains . Someone suggested to me that the mountain borders replicate themselves in people's minds, a reluctance to engage with the outsie world. I think that's nonsense but it mae me think about the stubborn position of the Serbian government. That is will not accept Kosovan independence makes sense to me, but to then isolate itself from Europe is something I do not understand.

We talked a lot in Ljubljana about the EU's role and what it should be. The EU has the difficult job of maintaining stability in the region. It can best do this by supporting these countries in their bids for EU accession. And this goes for Serbia. And there must be investment in Kosovo. The EU operation there has to get going.

The unilateral declaration of independence is unavoidable but I don't agree with it. Noboby ever wins from such processes. The EU won't recognise Kosovo. Its member states also. And the European Parliament the same. We should concentrate on what is now the EU's biggest ever foreign policy engagement and do it well.

Posted by Jan

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