Recognition of Kosovo “could be condition” for Serbia

BELGRADE, PARIS -- Recognition of Kosovo could be a precondition for Serbia’s EU integration even though it has not been officially mentioned yet, a French official has said.

Suzana Grubješić is seen at a meeting in Paris (B92)
Suzana Grubješić is seen at a meeting in Paris (B92)

French National Assembly’s Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Elisabeth Guigou said this after a meeting with Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Suzana Grubješić on Wednesday.

After the meeting with Guigou, Grubješić spoke about Serbia’s EU integration at the French National Assembly’s Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The Serbian deputy PM stated that Serbia would not recognize Kosovo and added that the Belgrade authorities had never been informed that this would be a condition for the obtaining of a date for the beginning of the EU accession talks.

Commenting on Guigou’s statement, Grubješić said that Serbia was not asked to recognize Kosovo in order to get a date for the beginning of the EU accession negotiations and that EU officials had reiterated it several times.

However, the deputy PM added that not only France had such position but some other EU member states as well and that they thought that Serbia would have to recognize the “reality” in Kosovo or to actually recognize its independence before it joined the EU.

“Of course, our response is that there is no recognition of Kosovo. But at the moment we are only talking about a date for the start of the accession negotiations and we can only talk about the membership after this long, painstaking negotiating process,” she stressed.

According to her, the EU primarily has a problem with five EU member states that have not recognized Kosovo’s independence and it is “impossible to predict what the Union itself will look like in the future”.

Some members of the National Assembly’s Committee on Foreign Affairs advocated Serbia’s EU membership.

“I think that it will happen some day but right now we want to start the negotiating process that we know in advance how long it is going to take but we are sure that Serbia will change during the process, adopt European standards and values,” Grubješić stressed.

“Serbia geographically, culturally and economically fully belongs to the family of the European peoples,” she pointed out.

According to the deputy PM, Serbia’s goal is not just to join the EU but to change and adjust to all standards and values of the Union.

“This is what we really advocate, what the previous Serbian government advocated and what the next government will advocate after us, because we want the European integration process to become irreversible,” Grubješić noted.

European Parliament (EP) President Martin Schultz said in early September that “mutual recognition of Belgrade and Priština” was a condition that the EP expected from Serbia in order to join the EU.

His statement was later denied by EU and Serbian officials. EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule stressed that the “normalization of relations” was a condition, not the recognition.

He added that the EU had no “other plans” and that all the conditions were well-known and listed in the December conclusions.

“France supports Serbia in its efforts to get the start date for the EU accession talks in June,” she said after a meeting with French EU Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Tuesday.

She pointed out that the dialogue with Priština and success in achieving a sustainable and visible progress were crucial.

She and her French interlocutors stressed on Tuesday that Serbia needed to continue its internal reforms, especially in combat against corruption and judicial and economic reforms, reads a release issued by Grubješić’s office.

After her visit to Paris, the deputy prime minister will pay an official visit to Germany together with First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić.