February 15, 2018 – FRN –
Serbia will need to recognize the independence of Kosovo, its former province, to join the European Union, said German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday in Pristina.
Kosovo declared independence 10 years ago, almost ten years after NATO bombed Serb forces during the 1998-1999 war.
“If Serbia wants to join the European Union, the establishment of the rule of law is an essential condition, but, of course, also the recognition of Kosovo’s independence – Gabriel said at a joint press conference with Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.
“This is the main condition to satisfy in order to become a part of the EU.” Gabriel assured that he gave the same message to Serbian officials in Belgrade earlier.
Serbian authorities are striving to join the EU by 2025 – the proposed date established by Brussels, because the union seeks to include the Western Balkan peoples in its ranks.
Serbian officials hope that recognition of Kosovo will not be a key condition for EU accession, and Defense Minister Alexander Woollin suggested that Belgrade and Pristina should share Kosovo.
Gabriel stated that his country will help obtain recognition of Kosovo by the five EU member states that have not yet done so: Spain, Romania, Cyprus, Greece and Slovakia.
“Naturally, the ultimate goal is membership in the European Union. It’s necessary to convince the five countries of the European Union that do not yet recognize Kosovo – that such recognition makes sense, since Kosovo will never again be part of Serbia. ”
“Membership in the European Union is a win-win situation for all,” the German Foreign Minister said.
Kosovo was recognized by 115 countries, including 23 out of 28 EU members. The country’s membership in the UN was blocked by Russia, China and allies. About 120,000 Serbs who live in Kosovo still consider Belgrade their capital and they receive financial support from Serbia.
Unlike the Crimea – there was no public referendum to secede from Serbia in Kosovo. A simple parliamentary decision was enough – yet neither Kosovo nor the Western states who were helping it along, were never accused of breaking international laws on self determination.