"Rajoy loses war in Balkans"

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy does not usually lead campaigns against the EU.

Source: B92
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(EPA-EFE, file, illustration purposes)
(EPA-EFE, file, illustration purposes)

However, he has lost "the Balkan War", writes Spanish website El Confidencial.

The Spanish government has made an effort to prevent Kosovo from being treated as a state at the upcoming EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia.

With the burning Catalan issue, Rajoy has made clear from the beginning to his partners that he will not be sitting at the same table with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci.

His insistence, however, was futile, writes El Confidencial.

Prime Minister Rajoy failed, it is stated, to make his EU partners join the protest the summit in Bulgaria on May 17.

Kosovo, which is part of the "Western Balkans Six" along with Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania, will take part in the summit. Considering this, Rajoy will not.

According to El Confidencial, Rahoj will go to Bulgaria, but only to hold meetings with the country's authorities and to attend a dinner with European leaders the day before the summit, and then return to Spain.

And while Madrid's official confirmation is still awaited, the message from Brussels is that Rajoy will not participate.

"It is not expected", sources from top EU ranks told El Confidencial.

Sources from the Spanish government, too, have confirmed that Rajoy will not go, although Spain's participation in the summit is still an open question. The article adds that it is not expected that Rajoy will change his stance at the last minute.

El Confidencial writes that neither the public declarations nor the diplomatic demands were enough to "feel Kosovo less as a state."

"Kosovo is part of the Six and many EU members consider it very important that the whole region be present," sources have said.

As stated, the Western Balkans, which is far away and foreign to many Spaniards, is crucial for the European Union.

"Not only because of its position as a communication vessel between the EU and the East, but also because of the growing Russian influence, the destabilization risk in the ever-volcano region," El Confidencial said in an article entitled, "Rajoy loses war in the Balkans."

Spain is not the only EU member that did not recognize Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence ten years ago. Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia, all for different reasons, reject it, but they will all participate in the summit, so only Rajoy will be absent.

Spain, which is currently focused on Catalonia, is the country that has held the "firmest position" when it comes to the summit, sources explained. As stated, Greece and Romania are much more "flexible," while Cyprus, which itself has territorial problems, is "halfway." Even the visit of Donald Tusk of the European Council to Madrid did not make Rajoy change his position.

As stated, the only "consolation prize" for the Spanish government is that it will avoid "a joint declaration between the EU and the Western Balkans Six" - which would have had Kosovo as a signatory of the document. Instead, a European declaration has been agreed on, with which the Balkan countries are harmonized, but which they will not sign.

"Many European partners are not satisfied with this decision, but they have accepted it because they understand the Spanish situation, solidarily," the article says.

"In this move Spain has left a lot of political capital, which in reality does not go beyond symbolism, without achieving what was intended: that Kosovo does not receive treatment as a state during the summit. The question arises whether it was worth it, considering the results," concludes El Confidencial.

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