News / Europe

EU Candidacy Drives Serbia to Improve Kosovo Relations

A woman passes by a defaced mural depicting war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic in Belgrade, Serbia, August 31, 2011
A woman passes by a defaced mural depicting war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic in Belgrade, Serbia, August 31, 2011
Dianna Cahn

The recent violence at the border between Serbia and northern Kosovo brought to a head what could be the biggest stumbling block for Serbia in its bid for European Union membership. The United Nations Security Council this week condemned the violence, but refused Serbia’s wish to implicate Kosovo in provoking the conflict. Pressure on Serbian leaders is mounting.

The flareup of violence in northern Kosovo in late July was the worst in several years. It left one police officer dead and many civilians injured.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded to the clashes by saying the European Union believed such events were in the past.

Weeks later, Merkel turned up the heat even further, calling on Belgrade to abolish its institutions in northern Kosovo and allow the EU’s law and justice mission [EULEX] to operate freely there. She linked these conditions to Serbia’s EU candidacy bid.

This was the first time most Serbs had heard these conditions. Coming on the heels of the recent violence, and following Serbia’s long-sought transfer of two war crimes suspects to the Hague tribunal, the possibility of not getting EU candidacy took people by surprise.

Serbia has been working for years to join the EU, and the European Commission is set to make its recommendation for candidate status in October.

Maja Bobic is head of the European Movement in Serbia, which promotes democratic values and EU integration.

"Maybe it was also the timing and maybe it was also that we heard on a number of occasions during this entire year that after fulfilling this most important and prominent condition, which is cooperation with the Hague tribunal, and of course continuing the reforms, internal reform, that candidate status was something that is almost guaranteed," said Bobic. "This was something we could hear also from European officials. It was taken for granted that candidate status was something that Serbia will have in this year."

President Boris Tadic said that Belgrade will not abolish its northern Kosovo institutions. He said Serbia is open to the EU mission in the entire territory, and there is room for compromise.

But he also acknowledged for the first time the possibility that Serbia might not get its EU candidate status this year.

Other Serb leaders followed suit.

Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic told Serbian media that he had the thankless task to say that Serbia would stick to its institutions even if that “blocked Serbia’s European path.”

At the U.N., Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic urged the international community to condemn Kosovo for the violent escalation. He was defiant about Serbia’s nationalist claim on Kosovo.

"I would like to once again reaffirm my government's position on Pristina's attempt at unilateral secession from Serbia. We do not, and we shall not, recognize it explicitly or implicitly," said Jeremic. "This is mandated by the democratic will of our people and enshrined in our constitution."

Serbian leaders realize that Belgrade is not being asked to formally recognize Kosovo’s independence - rather to normalize relations. But many see these demands as de-facto recognition, something Serbian politicians believe their constituents will never accept.

Bosko Jaksic, a columnist for the Serb newspaper Politika, said Kosovo is already lost to Serbia. He said Serb politicians fear that betraying their nationalist base will cost them in upcoming elections.

"Most of the Serbs are realizing that Kosovo is not Serbia anymore. And I think the politicians are not stupid that they don't realize themselves the same thing. I would tell them to face the nation, to say 'yes, we have your support to get Serbia into the European Union and we are going to do it.' The price for it is normalizing relations with Kosovo," said Jaksic.

Chancellor Merkel appeared Tuesday in Slovenia where reports said she had softened her stance, saying a gradual approach could be used in Kosovo.

European parliament member Doris Pack told Voice of America this week, however, that the European Union cannot accept a nation in conflict with its neighbor.

Belgrade must demonstrate that it is serious about moving forward in negotiations with Kosovo. “We need proof that they are willing,” she said.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs