OpEd

The problem is not the conditioning of integration with dialogue, but the unfairness of the EU in its evaluations

They are right in the EU when they say that in order not to condition the integration process with dialogue, one would have to give up the main principles in the enlargement process. That's not the problem. The problem is the lack of impartiality on the part of the EU in assessing the countries of the region. The EU is unfair to Kosovo and this is easy to prove

There are 10 countries in the process of enlargement of the European Union. Nine of them formally have the status of candidate countries. One does not have it. Kosovo is the only country not only from the enlargement process, but the only one in all of Europe that has applied for membership in the EU and does not have the status of a candidate country.

Moreover, Kosovo's application for membership in the European Union has not been examined at all, even though more than a year has passed since the submission of this request. And this has consequences. Because now Kosovo cannot be formally included in some steps of some EU institutions to bring the countries of the region closer even before they become member countries. For example, the EU's Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will soon accept members from candidate countries, becoming the first EU institution to do so. So, members from candidate countries will participate in the work of this EU institution equally with those from member countries, only they will not have the opportunity to vote. But Kosovo will not be part of this. Because formally Kosovo is not a candidate country.

There are many reasons for Kosovo, not only the government, but the entire political and social spectrum to feel frustrated with the discrimination the European Union is doing to it. The reasons that are heard for this discrimination do not hold up and are often ironic and funny. Countries that are at war, countries that do not control their territory have candidate status. They deserve to have such a status and the EU has done a right thing by giving it to them. But this proves that in the case of Kosovo, it is simply the lack of political will and the attempt to blackmail Kosovo, because of the dialogue.

The way it started, how it developed and what the dialogue has brought proves that it has been harmful. It has created more problems than it has solved. But it may surprise us and perhaps bring a solution that is not in sight. The way the dialogue process has been reflected in the EU integration process for Kosovo and Serbia, and the stages in which these two countries are, show the clear discrepancy. Since the beginning of the dialogue, Serbia has received the status of a candidate country, started membership negotiations, and opened a number of chapters. Kosovo has not taken any steps. He took the first step himself by submitting the application, but it was not reviewed, which means that the EU with Kosovo has not taken any steps.

The journey between Kosovo and Serbia is conditioned by the process of normalizing relations between them. And normalization goes through dialogue. Therefore, there is no logic in the requests that the integration process be divided, even though it is understood that this request of Kosovo is out of frustration.

Since the beginning of the dialogue, those who give the assessment, i.e. the European Commission and the External Action Service of the EU (EEAS) have constantly confirmed that the level of progress of Serbia in the normalization of relations with Kosovo has been sufficient and in this way , have given the green light that, as far as dialogue is concerned, Serbia can open and close chapters in the process of accession negotiations without obstacles. This finding can be proven through the European Commission's own documents and the reports that the EEAS has often made for the needs of the Council. How many times have officials from these two services been asked, they have said that "they did not want to give some member countries a reason to block Serbia's negotiation process with the EU." For the first time, last fall, in the Progress Report, it was found that Serbia has not made progress in the implementation of some dialogue agreements and in some there has even been a step back.

In a debate in the European Parliament dedicated to election violations in Serbia, the representative of the European Commission not only relativized the irregularities in the elections, but almost did not break the bank because Serbia from 2021 has not opened any chapter in the process of enlargement negotiations. This proves how much the European Commission and the EEAS support Serbia, that in defense of Serbia, they ignore the demands of the majority in the European Parliament. Therefore, Vuçiqi can rightfully and without fear say that he does not care about the European Parliament at all.

Kosovo, on the other hand, is happy that it has the support of the European Parliament, that EU institution constantly demands the recognition of Kosovo by the 5 member countries, membership in international organizations and mutual recognition as the goal of the dialogue. But for all these people close to the dialogue process, on behalf of the EU, they privately say that "they are worth less than the letters they are written on"! Kosovo lacks support from the European Commission and EEAS and in these circumstances some member states that want to help Kosovo remain powerless. The EEAS and the European Commission are the initiators of the measures against Kosovo. More precisely, Lajçak and Borrelli on one side and Commissioner Verhelyi on the other. They also have the lifting of the measures in their hands and it is only 'spin' when churches in the member countries are called as opponents of the lifting of the measures. The measures will be lifted if Lajcaku and Borrelli say that the conditions are ripe. But they don't say that and they won't say it anytime soon. Therefore, for a long time, Kosovo will remain under sanctions, will remain without candidate status and will be a reprimanded party for tensioning the situation.

But all this does not make logical the demand that the dialogue be separated from the EU integration process. This idea, which was heard in Kosovo by Prime Minister Albin Kurti and repeated by other officials, has rightly been considered illogical and impossible by many diplomats at the EU headquarters.

Because regional cooperation, reconciliation, good neighborliness and readiness to solve open issues with neighbors through political means and dialogue, for more than 24 years, is a key condition in the enlargement process. To remove this conditionality, the EU's approach to enlargement would have to be greatly changed. Even every year, this condition only gets stronger.

Even in the last conclusions of the EU on enlargement, it was written that the normalization of relations and the implementation of obligations from the dialogue are essential conditions on the European path of Kosovo and Serbia, and both risk losing important cases in the absence of progress.

Some diplomats ironically said that "at last, Kosovo and Serbia have the same request - that the dialogue be separated from the process of their integration into the EU". Because Serbia has also requested this several times, saying that "it cannot remain hostage to the dialogue, because Belgrade claims to have fulfilled all obligations, while Kosovo has not".

They are right in the EU when they say that in order not to condition the integration process with dialogue, the main principles in the enlargement process would have to be given up. That's not the problem. The problem is the lack of impartiality on the part of the EU in evaluating the countries of the region. The EU is unfair to Kosovo and this is easy to prove. Serbia that does not support sanctions against Russia, Serbia that denies the genocide in Srebrenica, Serbia that, according to observers from the European Parliament, does not hold fair and democratic elections, Serbia that strengthens ties with Russia and China and offends the EU, Serbia which protects the people who carried out a terrorist attack in Kosovo (as the High representative, Borrell, called the attack in Banjska), is in the process of integration, not only before Kosovo, but also before Albania and North Macedonia. Before everyone, except Montenegro. And Serbia has not been sanctioned for any action or inaction. And Kosovo yes. And the EU should think seriously about their non-objectivity.