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Serbia-Kosovo relations: Confrontation or normalisation?

12-02-2019

After fighting broke out between government forces and separatists, the formerly Serbian province of Kosovo was transferred to United Nations administration in 1999. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence. However, Belgrade continues to view its former province as Serbian territory. Over 100 countries, including 23 EU Member States, have recognised Kosovar independence, but full recognition and membership of most international organisations are still a long way off. Both Serbia and Kosovo aspire to ...

After fighting broke out between government forces and separatists, the formerly Serbian province of Kosovo was transferred to United Nations administration in 1999. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence. However, Belgrade continues to view its former province as Serbian territory. Over 100 countries, including 23 EU Member States, have recognised Kosovar independence, but full recognition and membership of most international organisations are still a long way off. Both Serbia and Kosovo aspire to EU membership – Serbia as a candidate country and Kosovo as a potential candidate. The EU insists that Serbia must normalise its relations with Kosovo before joining. Since 2011, with the help of EU mediation, the two neighbours have resolved some of the technical issues, but disagreements prevent normal day-to-day interaction between them in areas such as trade, energy supplies and cross-border travel. One of the main stumbling blocks is the situation of Kosovo's Serb minority. Around one in 12 Kosovars is an ethnic Serb, and nearly half of these are concentrated in the north. Despite efforts to integrate Serb-majority northern Kosovo into the rest of the country, Pristina still struggles to control the region. In 2013 and 2015, it agreed to establish an Association of Serb-majority Municipalities, but progress on this is now deadlocked. In 2018, the Kosovar and Serbian presidents floated the idea of a 'border correction', possibly involving the exchange of northern Kosovo for Albanian-majority Serbian districts. However, the proposal has been criticised by Germany, which fears that any territorial exchange risks sparking instability by calling into question other Western Balkan borders. There is also strong domestic opposition to the move in both Kosovo and Serbia. Despite growing pressure on both sides to finally reach a deal that could unlock the door to EU membership, relations remain tense and progress towards normalisation is currently at a standstill.

Plenary round-up – Brussels, November II 2018

30-11-2018

The highlights of the November II plenary session were the debate on the future of Europe with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the discussion on the Council and Commission statements on UK withdrawal from the European Union. Debates were held on a Commission statement on the single market package and the long-term strategy for reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions. Members debated and adopted reports on five Western Balkan countries, as well as a report on the way forward ...

The highlights of the November II plenary session were the debate on the future of Europe with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the discussion on the Council and Commission statements on UK withdrawal from the European Union. Debates were held on a Commission statement on the single market package and the long-term strategy for reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions. Members debated and adopted reports on five Western Balkan countries, as well as a report on the way forward for the World Trade Organization (WTO). A number of legislative reports were voted without debate, including on trade in goods that could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel treatment or punishment, the temporary reintroduction of border controls at the internal borders, and common rules for the operation of air services.

Serbia: 2018 country report

27-11-2018

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to vote on a motion for a resolution on Serbia's 2018 country report. The report acknowledges Serbia's progress in its accession process, but points to rule of law and freedom of expression as significant obstacles. Relations with Kosovo, another key issue, are also still a major challenge.

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to vote on a motion for a resolution on Serbia's 2018 country report. The report acknowledges Serbia's progress in its accession process, but points to rule of law and freedom of expression as significant obstacles. Relations with Kosovo, another key issue, are also still a major challenge.

Kosovo: 2018 country report

27-11-2018

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 country report on Kosovo. The latest progress report notes that Kosovo has had limited success in bringing forward EU-related reforms. It calls on government and opposition to work together in order to implement them.

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 country report on Kosovo. The latest progress report notes that Kosovo has had limited success in bringing forward EU-related reforms. It calls on government and opposition to work together in order to implement them.

Peace and Security in 2018: An evaluation of EU peacebuilding in the Western Balkans

22-05-2018

This first thematic study of the Peace and Security series focuses on European Union (EU) peacebuilding efforts in the Western Balkans. The series will make an annual evaluation of EU performance in the field of peace and security in a specific geographical region. Examining EU engagement in the Western Balkans, the study assesses the extent to which the Union has been able to transform and strengthen the region's governance, economy and resilience. The study is organised around three key inter-connected ...

This first thematic study of the Peace and Security series focuses on European Union (EU) peacebuilding efforts in the Western Balkans. The series will make an annual evaluation of EU performance in the field of peace and security in a specific geographical region. Examining EU engagement in the Western Balkans, the study assesses the extent to which the Union has been able to transform and strengthen the region's governance, economy and resilience. The study is organised around three key inter-connected (and at times overlapping) phases in EU post-conflict peacebuilding − stabilisation, state-building and EU enlargement − to explain the strengths, weaknesses and limits of EU engagement. It ends with an assessment of the new EU strategy for the Western Balkans and analyses the potential to remedy past deficiencies and help move the region towards genuine, inclusive and sustainable peace. A parallel study, published separately, provides an overview of current EU action on peace and security and of the outlook for the future. The studies have been drafted with a view to their presentation at the Normandy World Peace Forum, in June 2018.

Western Balkans [What Think Tanks are thinking]

04-05-2018

The European Union’s planned enlargement into the Western Balkans has recently drawn increased attention. In February 2018, the European Commission released its new enlargement strategy, giving a credible accession perspective to the region. The latest impetus came last month, when the Commission proposed opening entry talks with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Presenting the 2018 Communication on the EU enlargement policy to the European Parliament, Commission President Jean-Claude ...

The European Union’s planned enlargement into the Western Balkans has recently drawn increased attention. In February 2018, the European Commission released its new enlargement strategy, giving a credible accession perspective to the region. The latest impetus came last month, when the Commission proposed opening entry talks with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Presenting the 2018 Communication on the EU enlargement policy to the European Parliament, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that the EU needed to eventually accept new members from the Western Balkans to avoid the risk of a new war in the region. Many EU Member States insist that before enlarging, the EU must implement internal reforms. Future members must meet many tough entry criteria. From the Western Balkans, only Croatia has so far joined the EU, in 2013. Accession talks continue with Montenegro and Serbia. Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are official membership candidates, while Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a potential candidate country, along with Kosovo. This note offers links to reports and commentaries from some major international think-tanks and research institutes on EU enlargement and Western Balkans. More reports on the topic can be found in a previous edition of ‘What Think Tanks are thinking’, published in October 2017.

Kosovo: Economic indicators and trade with EU

30-04-2018

The first EU-Western Balkans Summit in a decade and a half takes place in Sofia in May 2018, under the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council. That is just one indicator of the EU's renewed engagement with the six countries of the region, with the Commission's February 2018 enlargement strategy reaffirming their perspective of joining the Union. This infographic, one of a series produced by EPRS in cooperation with Globalstat, offers an overview of the main economic and trade data – in particular on ...

The first EU-Western Balkans Summit in a decade and a half takes place in Sofia in May 2018, under the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council. That is just one indicator of the EU's renewed engagement with the six countries of the region, with the Commission's February 2018 enlargement strategy reaffirming their perspective of joining the Union. This infographic, one of a series produced by EPRS in cooperation with Globalstat, offers an overview of the main economic and trade data – in particular on trade with the EU – of Kosovo, as well as information on EU grants and loans to the country.

The United States and the Western Balkans

17-11-2017

The United States has contributed greatly to the post-war reconstruction of the Western Balkans and remains a key player. While the region is not as high on the US foreign policy agenda as in the 1990s, the USA has consistently shown commitment to its Euro-Atlantic integration. US engagement is seen as crucial in this historically volatile region, weakened by unresolved past and emerging challenges.

The United States has contributed greatly to the post-war reconstruction of the Western Balkans and remains a key player. While the region is not as high on the US foreign policy agenda as in the 1990s, the USA has consistently shown commitment to its Euro-Atlantic integration. US engagement is seen as crucial in this historically volatile region, weakened by unresolved past and emerging challenges.

Turkey's influence in the Western Balkans

06-07-2017

During the Cold War, Turkey's interest in the Western Balkans remained relatively dormant, yet the wars that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and the active diplomacy pursued by the Turkish AK political party from 2002 onwards triggered greater Turkish involvement in the region. Nevertheless, Turkey's influence in the Western Balkans remains mainly based on cultural and educational programmes offered to those countries with a large Muslim community and steadily developing ...

During the Cold War, Turkey's interest in the Western Balkans remained relatively dormant, yet the wars that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and the active diplomacy pursued by the Turkish AK political party from 2002 onwards triggered greater Turkish involvement in the region. Nevertheless, Turkey's influence in the Western Balkans remains mainly based on cultural and educational programmes offered to those countries with a large Muslim community and steadily developing trade.

Kosovo: 2016 country report

07-06-2017

In June, following the early election in Kosovo, the European Parliament is due to vote on a resolution on Kosovo's 2016 report. It calls for restoring the political dialogue, swift fulfilment of the Commission's two conditions for visa liberalisation and continued commitment to the dialogue with Belgrade.

In June, following the early election in Kosovo, the European Parliament is due to vote on a resolution on Kosovo's 2016 report. It calls for restoring the political dialogue, swift fulfilment of the Commission's two conditions for visa liberalisation and continued commitment to the dialogue with Belgrade.

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