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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

24.09.10: Kosovo in New York - 0 views

  • After Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov took his turn among a succession of heads of state and government to have talks with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the start of the General Assembly’s new season, the UN’s news service said that Kosovo had topped the agenda, specifically the prospects for talks between Belgrade and Priština.Given hopes in diplomatic circles that on the sidelines of the General Assembly talkfest, an arrangement could be brokered to open negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo, the topic of the Borissov-Ban discussions was hardly a surprise – especially given Bulgaria’s desire to take the lead in helping to get the Western Balkans on an even keel.
  • These developments all preceded what many hoped would be a turning point in New York – a scheduled September 23 meeting between EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and  Tadić, at which – or so it was hoped – there would be some agreement on starting an EU-brokered set of talks between Belgrade and Priština, including a starting date for the dialogue.On September 20, Ashton met Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaçi. Media in Priština said that Thaçi had told Ashton that Kosovo was prepared to talk to Serbia about matters of mutual interest, but with the issues of Kosovo’s status decidedly off the agenda.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.09.10: Internal discussions in Serbia on UN adoption of Kosovo Resolution - 0 views

  • Belgrade has praised the UN General Assembly's adoption of a resolution on Kosovo that calls for dialogue between the state and Serbia. Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said the decision on Thursday night was an important move as it ended the process Serbia had started by requesting a legal opinion from the International Court of Justice, ICJ, on Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.
  • Some opposition parties in Serbia were quick to label the adoption "a defeat and shame for the Serbian people". Dragan Todorovic from the opposition Serbian Radical Party, SRS, called Thursday's adoption the "most shameful and hardest hit" that Serbia had suffered in its history. "Everyone who watched the session could see how Serbia has lost Kosovo, for which it has been fighting for generations in only one way," Todorovic told Balkan Insight.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

08.09.10: EU should facilitate Kosovo-Serbia talks, show new muscle - 0 views

  • A rare combination of events offers the EU the opportunity to help Serbia and Kosovo resolve their differences, establish relations and unblock their paths to further European integration. The 22 July International Court of Justice (ICJ) opinion that found Kosovo's declaration of independence violated no international law or UN Resolution, a September discussion in the UN General Assembly on Kosovo, an invitation to mediate by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, and unprecedented domestic support for Prime Minister Hashim
  • Possibly, it only wants talks that discuss Kosovo's status, inherently delaying other countries' decisions to join the 69 states that have already recognised. But this delaying tactic is not going to work, and there will be no EU facilitated dialogue if Serbia does not accept to sit down with Kosovo as an equal. The encouraging news is that some high level officials in Serbia seem to recognise this. They are interested in moving forward with their EU candidacy and feel Kosovo as an albatross holding them back. They want to find mutually acceptable solutions with Pristina which could pave the way for recognition.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

31.08.10: EU tells Serbia to give up Kosovo 'last battle' - 0 views

  • Serbia has tabled an initiative to push through a resolution in the UN General Assembly declaring unilateral secession by Kosovo as "unacceptable". But major EU countries warned Belgrade that it should seek solutions to its problems in Brussels, not New York. Beta agency, EurActiv's partner in Serbia, reports.
  • Unhappy with the International Court of Justice's ruling that Kosovo's independence declaration did not violate international law (EurActiv 23/07/10), Serbia has taken the issue to the UN, hoping for a more sympathetic approach from its members to the issue of territorial integrity. The draft resolution calls for fresh talks on all outstanding issues, but also condemns Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence. Belgrade plans to get it adopted at a session which starts in mid-September. As reported by international agencies, the EU has warned Belgrade that insisting on the resolution could harm relations with Brussels and eventually its aspirations to join the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

30.08.10: Serbia open to EU compromise on Kosovo - 0 views

  • Cracks in Serbia's long-uncompromising position on Kosovo appeared on the weekend as President Boris Tadic said his country is open to discussing a compromise over its UN General Assembly resolution. In July, following a ruling by the International Court of Justice that Kosovo's 2008 unilateral declaration of independence was not in violation of international law, Belgrade submitted a resolution with the General Assembly declaring "unilateral secession is not an acceptable way to solve territorial issues" and calling for a "mutually acceptable solution to all open issues".
  • Last week, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle bluntly told Serbia: "Kosovar independence is a reality," and: "The map of southeastern Europe has been laid down and completed." He also suggested that Belgrade's acquiescence on this fact was necessary before Serbia could join the EU, despite five existing member states refusing to recognise the breakaway region.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

18.08.10: Brussels backs Kosovo bid to join international bank - 0 views

  • The European Commission has endorsed Kosovo's bid to join the international bank, the EBRD, as Pristina continues to strive for credibility on the world stage.
  • Five out of the 27 EU countries and 22 out of the 63 EBRD member countries do not recognise Kosovo. But if one of the 22 EBRD non-recognisers changed position, it would be enough for Pristina to secure the 75 percent vote needed to join the London-based body. UN membership is for the time being out of the question due to the hostility of Russia, a UN veto-wielding power, in a situation preventing Kosovo from joining other institutions, such as the International Olympic Committee, the football authority FIFA and the Internet top-line domain name authority, ICAAN. Kosovo in 2009 did join the IMF, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank however, in developments touted by its diplomats as proof of progress toward de jure statehood. Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in a comment for EUobserver earlier this week said the ICJ ruling should open the way for more UN members to switch sides.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

05.07.10: Kosovo expects 'balanced' court ruling on status - 0 views

  • Pristina expects the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, which is expected shortly, to be "balanced" in terms of recognising Kosovo's sovereignty and in opening the door to further recognition by many more countries, the minister for the EU integration of Kosovo, Besim Beqaj, told EurActiv in an exclusive interview.
  • In October 2009, the United Nations approved Serbia's request to ask the ICJ whether Kosovo's secession from Serbia was legal. On 1 December 2009, the ICJ began to examine the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence. The judgement could tip Kosovo's future towards full international recognition or push it back under the auspices of the Serbian state.
  • Regional cooperation is not in fact one of the Copenhagen criteria. However, with regard to the countries of the former Yugoslavia, the EU institutions have been insisting that applicants should resolve their bilateral disputes outside the EU framework; that they should cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); and that they should pursue regional integration and improve the situation of minorities. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

25.05.10: Bosnia tensions grow ahead of Balkan summit | EurActiv - 0 views

  • Officials from Bosnia and Herzegovina have traded accusations with representatives of the international community, who have been helping to manage the country since the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. The development came just days ahead of a Western Balkans summit in Sarajevo on 2 June, intended to reaffirm the region's EU membership prospects.
  • Bosnian Prime Minister Nikola Spiric has written to the UN accusing the international community's envoy of destabilising his country, the local press reported on 23 May.Spiric urged United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to remove the international community's high representative in Bosnia, Valentin Inzko, who has the power to pass laws and sack officials in the country's two semi-autonomous entities, AFP reported."Continuing foreign intervention in local political issues is destabilising and undermines the creation of a consensus [...] as well as reform efforts," the Bosnian Serb leader is quoted as saying.The Office of the High Representative (OHR) "should be closed in order to enable Bosnian political leaders to achieve legitimate progress," he said, saying that Inzko, an Austian diplomat, was "contributing to non-functional governance in Bosnia".In return, Inzko blamed leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina for what he called a "deterioration" of political dialogue.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.11.08: 'Balkan wars' move to UN court - 0 views

  • Battlefields are no longer the place to solve conflicts in the Balkans. In recent days and weeks, several bilateral conflicts involving countries in the region, which are also hindering their EU accession prospects, are moving to more dignified surroundings: the International Court of Justice at the UN.
  • Background: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.  The seat of the court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York .  The court's role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised United Nations organs and specialised agencies.  Although the UN International Court of Justice's opinion is advisory, without binding effect, it nevertheless remains that the authority and prestige attached to the court's advisory opinions, especially when the organ or agency concerned endorses that opinion, means that its decisions are often sanctioned as such by international law. 
  • In a very short timeframe, several conflicts between Balkan countries have been referred to the UN's highest court.  In the first of a recent string of lawsuits, Serbia tested the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence before the Hague Tribunal in October (EurActiv 09/10/08), while on Monday (17 November), Macedonia instituted proceedings against Greece after its neighbour long-time foe had blocked its NATO bid over a name dispute (EurActiv 02/04/08).  Yesterday (18 November), Croatia won the right to sue Serbia for genocide after the court ruled that it had the legal power to decide on the case. In return, Serbia indicated that it would sue Croatia for war crimes. 
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  • Olli Rehn, the EU enlargement commissioner, recently expressed regret over this practice, adding that he would prefer to see bilateral issues solved in a bilateral framework (EurActiv 06/11/08). 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

18.11.08: Athens and Macedonia in UN ourt over name dispute - 0 views

  • Athens on Tuesday (18 November) strongly criticised Skopje's decision to file a complaint against Greece with the International Court of Justice (IJC), and accused it of hindering the process of finding a solution to the "name issue" that has been poisoning relations for 17 years.
  • On Monday, EU membership candidate Macedonia started legal proceedings against Greece at the ICJ, accusing the country of not complying with its international obligations at a NATO summit held in Bucharest earlier this year, when it blocked an invitation to Skopje to join the organisation because of the unresolved name dispute between them.
  • Greece has been refusing to recognise its neighbour's constitutional name - the Republic of Macedonia - since it declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 as a northern region in Greece is also called Macedonia and Athens fears allowing Skopje to use the name will open the way to territorial claims. It also believes the name is part of its own historical heritage. But under Article 11 of the UN Interim Agreement signed between them in 1995, Athens has committed not to object to Skopje's application to join any "international, multilateral and regional organisations and institutions" of which Greece is part, provided that it applies under the provisional name foreseen in the deal – Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.06.08: Western Balkans on EU agenda - 0 views

  • After a re-run of the general election in Macedonia and the entry into force of Kosovo's new constitution on Sunday, EU foreign ministers will convene today (16 June) to review the situation in the neighbouring Western Balkans.
  • Ministers will likely welcome the peaceful re-run of parliamentary elections in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on Sunday, just two weeks after ethnic violence marred the first elections on 1 June. 
  • While Kosovo is not on the foreign ministers' agenda, it is unlikely that they will be able to avoid the topic, after the fledgling state's constitution entered into force on Sunday.  The EU is also poised to take over policing and justice tasks from the United Nations after the UN's Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week put forward proposals to "reconfigure" the activities of the UN Mission UNMIK to allow the EU to deploy its contested EU-Lex police mission there (EurActiv 29/05/08).  "It is my intention to reconfigure the structure and profile of the international civil presence [...] enabling the European Union to assume an enhanced operational role," said the secretary general in letters to Kosovo and Serbian leaders.  But the handover, which is foreseen in Kosovo's constitution, remains strongly opposed by both Serbia and Russia, who insist that the EU mission is illegal because it has not been approved by the UN Security Council. 
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