The EEAS-mediated dialogue between Belgrade and Prishtina delivered first results. Kosovo took initial steps towards integrating into the EU while the international presence was downscaled.
Kosovo was a European success in 2012 as EU-mediated talks between Belgrade and Prishtina bore fruit. In March, the so-called footnote agreement was reached on Kosovo’s participation in Balkan regional forums. Added to the deal on integrated border management (IBM) struck in December 2011, the deal helped Serbia qualify for EU candidacy. Talks were resumed in October following elections in Serbia in April/May. High Representative Catherine Ashton hosted an unprecedented meeting with the prime ministers, Ivica Dačić and Hashim Thaçi, followed by another meeting in November. However, there are lingering questions about whether and how Dačić’s coalition cabinet will be able to implement the IBM agreement and make further necessary steps.
The EU has asked Serbia to “normalise relations with Kosovo” as a prerequisite for opening accession talks but it has yet to be defined. Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK want to press Serbia to formally recognise Kosovo. In 2012, some German Christian Democrats even called for Belgrade and Prishtina to commit in advance of talks to sign a legally binding agreement. The five member states that still do not recognise Kosovo themselves (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain) plus others such as Italy and the Czech Republic take a softer line towards Serbia.
The International Steering Group, the body charged with overseeing the implementation of the Ahtisaari Plan, closed the International Civilian Office (ICO), the body supervising Kosovo’s independence, after concluding that Kosovo had met all conditions, including the rights of the ethnic communities and decentralisation of governance. In June, the European Commission also issued a positive feasibility study and a roadmap for visa liberalisation. Top officials such as Enlargement and Neighbourhood Commissioner Stefan Füle have now begun openly to talk of Kosovo as an EU member state and Kosovo was accepted as a recipient country by the EBRD in November. In 2012 non-recognisers Greece and Slovakia also started accepting passports issued by Prishtina.
|Leaders: Austria - Finland - Germany - United Kingdom|
|Slackers: Cyprus - Romania - Spain|