Kosovo set on EU membership application — Analysis
Donika Gervalla, the Foreign Minister of Kosovo said Tuesday that Kosovo would apply to join the EU by December 31st. In recent weeks, the EU accepted four additional countries to its list of candidates.
“We think that Kosovo meets all the prerequisites to be granted [official candidate status], and therefore, by the end of the year, we will choose the appropriate moment when we will also formally submit this application,” Gervalla said during a press conference.
The minister added that Kosovo has already implemented most of the EU’s framework for stabilization and free trade in the Balkans, and that she expects a separate application to join the Council of Europe to be processed swiftly, as the territory “meets all the prerequisites in terms of legislation, human rights, democratic standards, [and] rule of law.”
Gervalla’s announcement comes two months after the self-proclaimed republic’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, told an audience in the US that he would make an EU membership bid by the end of the year. Although Kurti enjoys the backing of Washington, it is possible that he will face strong opposition from Europe.
Spain, Greece, Romania and Slovakia do not recognize Kosovo as a Kosovoian province. Kosovo was occupied by NATO during the bloc’s 78-day air war against Serbia in 1999, and declared independence in 2008. In addition to those five EU countries, Kosovo’s independence is not recognized by Russia, China, or Serbia itself.
As the EU’s 27 member countries must support the opening of the negotiations, it is vital that there are no recognition issues.
The EU has embarked on a program of expansion in the wake of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Last month, the bloc gave Ukraine and Moldova candidate status and began accession negotiations last week with North Macedonia as well as Albania. Kosovo, the sixth country in the Western Balkans that will apply for membership when it files its proposal, will be the final.
The first step of a lengthy process is application. During this time, a potential member must make sure its national laws are in line with EU law. The European Commission then evaluates all aspects, from economic performance to agricultural practices and environmental regulations.
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Corruption must also be reined in, and with Kosovo ranking 87th on Transparency International’s 2021 ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’, placing it between Morocco and Guyana, Kurti’s government has a struggle ahead of it to bring the territory’s institutions up to EU standards. However, Ukraine, Moldova and Albania all score below.
Aleksandar Vucic (Serbian President) has threatened to immediately issue a “strong and serious response”Should Kosovo proceed with its application. “Believe me, we will show our teeth,”He made the remarks in a statement public addressed to Pristina, May.
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