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Vogel: Serbia must recognize Kosovo’s reality (Blic, RFE)

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The EU-Balkan Summit in Sofia, conceived as Thessaloniki 2, is very disappointing because there has been no reaffirmation of the prospects of Balkan countries’ membership in the EU, says Toby Vogel, a researcher of the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS) for Radio Free Europe, daily Blic reports.

French President Emanuel Macron has “thrown a bucket with cold water” on the European aspirations of the Balkans’ candidate countries, saying that the EU must initially carry out internal reforms before admitting new members. This is the old position of France and there was nothing new about what Macron said. However, it was interesting that he, viewed as an extremely pro-European oriented politician, has taken such an attitude towards the reception of the Balkan countries. He told them this directly at the summit in Sofia, whereby a clear signal has been sent, writes RFE, Blic reports.

– Therefore, I consider that the outcome of the summit is very disappointing, among other things, because of the treatment of six Balkan countries in the final document as a “partner” rather than a “state”. Also, it is disappointing that the Spanish Prime Minister did not participate in this gathering because of Kosovo. All this shows that the EU has not strongly reaffirmed its commitment to enlargement to the Balkans. The leaders of the countries of the region certainly have acknowledged this, and will act accordingly – say Vogel.

Asked whether in Belgrade are afraid that the condition for joining the EU would be a formal recognition of Kosovo, and any politician in Serbia could hardly “swallow” that bitter pill in due course, Vogel says that he does not think that it is necessary for Serbia to become the EU member.

– However, they would have to accept a legally binding agreement within the framework of international law that would allow Serbia and Kosovo de facto state, diplomatic and other relations. This would not be a formal recognition of Kosovo’s independence by Belgrade, but close to it. For example, the two Germanys relations were as state ones but without mutual recognition. I think that these are more or less semantic issues. In the end, Serbian leaders need to tell the Serbian citizens at the end, what honestly speaking, they know – that is, Belgrade has lost control over Kosovo 20 years ago, primarily because of the Serbian authorities repression, which has caused the resistance of Albanians – he stressed .

He added that all this resulted in violence and international intervention.

– After Serbia lost control of Kosovo, it was inevitable that it had declared independence ten years ago. Now is the time to recognize this reality. When this happens, both Serbia and Kosovo will be able to approach significantly the EU, he says.

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