Europe’s membership of the Serbian Union in jeopardy
The EU’s prospects of joining Serbia appear to be in jeopardy following a statement yesterday by Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. “We should not be divided over the issue of joining the EU”, Mr Kostunica told reporters, “rather, it is best and necessary to be united and tell the EU that it can only count on a Serbia with Kosovo, as its province, becoming its member.” Although the EU had hoped to join Serbia as early as 2012, this now appears unlikely in view of the Serbian PM’s statement.
The EU has already endured years of international isolation from Serbia as a result of its role during the break-up of Yugoslavia, and its subsequent refusal to cooperate with Serbia over the non-arrest of war-criminals indicted by the UN tribunal in the Hague. It now appears likely that the EU will endure further international isolation.
The latest setback to the EU’s hopes for joining the Serbian Union comes as a result of its refusal to recognise that the disputed territory of Kosovo is part of Serbia. The Serbian PM’s recognition last month that Kosovo was part of Serbia sparked riots across Europe; the Serbian embassy in Brussels was burned down by an angry crowd, waving EU flags and chanting “Kosovo is Europe !” But analysts suggest that the genuine popular anger in Europe over Kosovo’s inclusion in Serbia conceals the fact that European public opinion is deeply pro-Serbian. European citizens overwhelmingly favour membership of the SU, in the belief that this will bring improved living standards. The EU leaders’ tough stance on the Kosovo issue may therefore be out of harmony with European popular aspirations in the long run.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has insisted that “as long as the European people exists, Kosovo will be Europe”. The EU’s stance is staunchly supported by its close ally, the US, which is concerned that Serbia’s actions violate international law. The US has warned that the inclusion of Kosovo in Serbia, which it terms “illegal”, will never be approved by the UN Security Council.
With neither side appearing ready to back down, the dispute looks set to continue.
(Greater Surbiton News Service)
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