Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Tension at the summit in Pomorie

Adelina Marini, May 21, 2008

In great pressure started the last day of the two day summit of the countries, participating in the Process for cooperation in South East Europe. The reason for the tension was the text of the final declaration from Pomorie and specifically how to formulate the participation of Kosovo in the document. Kosovo had been represented at the summit by the UN administration, UNMIK and by its future foreign minister Skender Hyseni which additionaly annoyed the Serbian delegation.

According to a source that participated in the negotiations, who requested anonymity, the meeting was heart-breaking with the participation of the prime minister Sergey Stanishev which was an exception from the rules so far. In the end an agreement was reached almost in time and the declaration has been approved. In the six-page document the name "Kosovo" is mentioned only in one sentence in the following context: "The delegations note the variety of positions among the participating states regarding "Kosovo".

For Bulgaria it would have been extremely unpleasant if the negotiations on the document had failed because this would have put an end to a really successful Bulgarian one-year presidency over the Process for cooperation in South East Europe (SEECP). Indeed, during the presidency of SEECP Bulgaria gained the role of a strong regional player and a factor in solving the problems of the Balkans. It was not a coincidence that the prime minister Sergey Stanishev said at the final press conference that, notwithstanding the historical remnants in the region, the cliche "the gunpowder dump of Europe" is no longer applicable for the Balkans where a totally new spirit of regional cooperation and dialogue has taken place.

By the way, at today's session the future foreign minister of Kosovo had made a statement in which he said that a large part of the legislation, envisaged in the "Ahtisaari plan" has already been approved by the Parliament of Kosovo and it includes some very important for the regional stability issues like decentralisation, protection of cultural and religious heritage. Hyseni also said that Kosovo had already started to apply the "Ahtisaari" principles for the establishment of protection zones around the Serbian Orthodox sites and for the creation of new municipalities with mainly Serbian representatives. Beside that he called on all countries that wish Kosovo to develop and to be stable, to invest in the country. Kosovo relies very much on the Donor conference which will take place in June.

Of course this is in contradiction to the hard Serbian position, stated once again by the president Boris Tadic. During the break of the negotiations over the declaration, Tadic met with journalists and said that Serbia will continue to fight for a new round of negotiations for the status of Kosovo under the auspices of the UN and that he wouldn't let the mission of the EU in Kosovo because it is in violation of resolution 1244 of the Security Council of the UN. But if the Council would approve a new resolution in which it gives a mandate of the EULEX, the European civil mission, then Serbia would accept it.

The host of the meeting, the prime minister Sergey Stanishev rejected this and said that the negotiating process for Kosovo had for long been exhausted and that "we have to be realists - at the moment it is important to seek mutual efforts for the whole region to achieve long term stability". With regard to EULEX Stanishev said that, just the opposite, this mission was totally in line with resolution 1244. But according to international law experts the texts of this resolution do not allow explicitly the participation of civil missions of a group of countries as the EU. Permission to work there has only the civic administration of the UN - UNMIK.

Nevertheless the success of the Bulgarian presidency and the tension surrounding the final declaration, we could hardly say that the danger of a disintegration of the SEECP is left behind because Moldova takes over the presidency as of today and it has its own very serious problems with the separatist territory Transnistria. This is the reason why Moldova would not be able to invite representatives of Serbia and Kosovo, especially when the government of Kosovo will be legitimate with the approval of the constitution on the 15th of June.

And one more thing, which I learned from a very informed source, last night at the reception for the leaders there was a bilateral meeting between Greece and Macedonia. Regretfully, no one could say whether the meeting was between the Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis and the Macedonian president Branko Crvenkosvki, neither could we say what they had talked about. Anyway, if there was any agreement on the name of Macedonia we would have known. Before our Greek colleagues here in Pomorie, Karamanlis said that Greece would seek an acceptable and long term solution to the conflict with Macedonia which should be approved by the Security Council of the UN.

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