Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
The message to Serbia from Brussels is clear: swallow your pride and start talking to Kosovo. Without strong evidence that Belgrade is mending ties with its former province, the message goes on, Serbia’s pathway to European Union entry will be rocky, if not blocked entirely.
Quietly, EU diplomats warn that Serbia must tread carefully on the issue. Since the International Court of Justice ruled last week that Kosovo’s 2008 secession was legal, the province is gone from Serbia for good, they caution.
“After the ICJ decision, anyone who thinks the status of Kosovo as independent will be reversed is delusional,” one
Brussels-based diplomat stated plainly.
At the same time, it’s not as if the EU is above mixed messages. Twenty-two of the EU’s member states recognise Kosovo’s independence, while the remaining five are more sympathetic to Serbia. At a meeting of EU foreign ministers this week, several governments pressed for Serbia to be given inducements, such as a smoother ride towards EU entry, to get it to start negotiating with Kosovo.
Last weekend, Finland’s foreign minister gathered six of his colleagues and the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, in the frozen far reaches of Lapland for two days of talks on the future of European foreign policy.
As informal ministerial gatherings go, it was a rather jolly (if cold) affair, complete with a ‘family photo’ taken with a pair of nervous reindeer, a chance to see the northern lights and activities such as skiing, sledging and snow-mobiling. Some of the ministers even brought along their families.
As experiments in political unity go, Europe’s External Action Service takes some beating.
The budding diplomatic corps of the European Union, with a name that sounds like an off-shoot of Britain’s SAS, is supposed to represent the unified interests of the EU’s 27 member states to the rest of the world.
In the United States, Senate hearings to confirm presidential appointments are a Big News Story, with scores of photographers, TV cameras and journalists cramming into the committee rooms to follow the event live.
The European Union — which has 200 million more people than the United States and is a larger trading bloc — has something similar, with hearings before the European Parliament to confirm nominees to the European Commission, the 27-person body that enforces laws across the EU.