The May 17 EU-Western Balkans summit in Bulgaria may turn out to be a failure as there is no unity among European states both on the Kosovo issue and the EU expansion into the region, Aleksandar Mitic, a political scientist at the Belgrade-based Center for Strategic Alternatives think tank, told Sputnik Serbia.
"As we witnessed in February , when the EU enlargement strategy was presented, there is an absolute lack of unity within the EU regarding the timeframe of the [bloc's] expansion and its conditions," Mitic emphasized. "The EU-Western Balkans summit is unlikely to solve this problem, especially in the context of a provocative decision to invite Kosovo as a state. If Bulgaria does not abandon this format, the event will be threatened with failure."
Slovakia, which also regards Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia, is also mulling over its participation in the EU summit in Bulgaria. For its part, Sofia, apparently scared by the prospect of the event's failure, has stated that it will "fully respect the status neutrality of Kosovo at the EU-Western Balkans summit."
Meanwhile, Pristina media resources say that Ramush Haradinaj, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Republic, will represent Kosovo.
Mitic expressed his confidence that Spain will not agree to Kosovo's participation in the event, since Madrid's position on the issue has become even tougher after the Catalonia independence vote on October 1, 2017. Therefore, it could be expected that Spain will adhere to this strategy in the future, the political scientist suggested.
Thus, in February 2018 the Public Relations Office of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Vecernje Novosti, a Belgrade-based newspaper, that "Spain's position on the non-recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo is based on the defense of the principles of the territorial integrity of states, respect for international law, and the rule of law."
"That's grounds for other states which do not recognize Kosovo to take a firmer stand," Mitic opined. "It is possible that Bulgaria will try to save the summit and come up with some ingenious solution, for example, tablets indicating the names and surnames of Kosovo representatives without specifying the state, building on the experience of the EU."
Mitic shares Jankovic's stance: According to the political scientist, Belgrade should not make concessions in the course of its dialogue with Pristina including the issue of Kosovo's membership in international organizations.
He believes that the firm position of Spain and other countries on Kosovo's self-proclaimed independence clearly indicates that Belgrade should not rush to make the final decision on the Kosovo issue, as most Serbian analysts who took part in the so-called "internal dialogue on Kosovo," initiated by Serbian President Alexander Vucic in autumn 2017, believed.
Instead of the demonstration of EU member states willingness to close ranks and proceed with the enlargement of the bloc, the upcoming summit is likely to show "an illusion of EU unity on the issue of expansion into the Western Balkans," according to Mitic.
In February 2018, Hashim Thaci, the president of the self-proclaimed Kosovo Republic, suggested that Pristina and Belgrade will conclude the agreement by the end of the year.
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