The ethnic Albanian government in Kosovo signed a formal application to join the European Union on Wednesday, calling it a “new chapter” for Pristina. The move was dismissed as a public relations stunt by Serbia, which does not recognize the breakaway province. Neither do five of the 27 EU member states.
The application was signed by prime minister Albin Kurti, president Vjosa Osmani, and speaker of the parliament Glauk Konjufca. The document will be presented to Czechia, which presides over the EU, on Thursday.
“Progress will depend on our commitment to deep and transformative reforms that strengthen our democracy and economy,” said Kurti. Osmani called it a “historic day” and said Kosovo deserved to become an EU member as “a country of peace and respect for human rights.”
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic reacted by saying it was “inconceivable” for the EU to seriously entertain the application when Pristina was “absolutely disrespecting every agreement,” and noted that Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain had yet to recognize Serbia’s breakaway province.
“I think this is more of a political publicity stunt for internal consumption,” Dacic said.
NATO took control of Kosovo in 1999, after 78 days of bombing Serbia. The ethnic Albanian provisional government declared independence in 2008, with US support. Russia and China have backed Belgrade in insisting on the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 that treats Kosovo as part of Serbia.
Kurti’s government has ratcheted up tensions with the local Serbs since July, first seeking to outlaw their license plates and identification documents, then deploying hundreds of armed police in the Serb-majority north. Moscow has warned the ethnic Albanian government that it was “playing with fire.”
While US special envoy Gabriel Escobar offered “very firm security guarantees” to Pristina, he also insisted that it urgently needed to establish an association of Serb municipalities, which it pledged to do in the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kurti’s party publicly announced on Wednesday it would do no such thing.
Escobar also said Washington was “categorically” opposed to the return of some Serbian security forces to the province, as authorized by UNSCR 1244. Serbian PM Ana Brnabic responded by asking whether the West considered any international law, treaties or agreements valid, or is Serbia “just supposed to follow your horoscope in order to guess your wishes?”