The issue of Kosovo’s contested statehood has kept Brussels busy for more than ten years now. Advancing on this front is more pressing than ever in the new geopolitical context forged by the Russian war in Ukraine. What is at stake is not only the resolution of a sensitive bilateral dispute that has become noxious for the whole region, but also the EU’s quest for strategic autonomy, which can only be achieved through greater convergence on such issues.
Nearly fifteen years ago, on February 17, 2008, Kosovo formally declared independence. Immediately recognized by most countries in the Western world, including France, the youngest state in Europe had already taken up tremendous challenges. A decade earlier, Kosovo had been bled dry by a full-scale war waged by Slobodan Milošević’s criminal regime in Belgrade. The country, in desperate need of reconstruction, received decisive support from the European Union (EU) and the international community. It also engaged, under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), in negotiations with Serbia to settle its international status (the so-called Vienna Negotiations) – but in vain. Supported by Russia in the UN Security Council, Serbia opposed the proposal that could have settled its dispute with Kosovo, arguing that the former autonomous province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia shall forever remain an integral part of the Serbia’s territory.
Kosovo then declared independence in 2008, and EU subsequently took over the negotiation process aimed at helping Belgrade and Prishtina navigating around each other…
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