Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Kosovo will dominate the "Gymnich"

Adelina Marini, March 30, 2007

The informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers has started today, more popular as the "Gymnich" meeting after the name of a castle near Bonn where the foreign ministers of the European Community gathered for the first time in 1974 to discuss, out of protocol, the most pending and hard issues not only about the Community but globally too. Today, decades later, the problems which the leaders of the Eu, now of 27 member states, have to solve are very different than 40 years ago. They will discuss the Western Balkans, Kosovo, Iran, the Middle East and Belarus.

But as the meeting is still going on we don't have any information how the discussions are going on on all those topics, so I will give as much information as we have received from the Bulgarian foreign minister Ivaylo Kalfin. The Kosovo topic will be dominating because, actually, after the UN special representative, the former Finnish president Marti Ahtisaari, here in Bremen will be discussed for the first time. So far, the differences among the member states are too many regarding the question whether more time to be given for negotiations or to impose an immediate solution.

Bulgaria is defending the position of a quick solution to the problem because any prolongation would further increase the tension to an extent that it might go out of control. Besides, it is not clear whether any additional negotiations will lead to any different result. And the worst thing that might happen at today's meeting is the ministers to fail to agree a common position because the EU is not presented in the UN Security Council as a legal entity. Only the UK and France are permanent members, which means they have a right to veto. This means that when the Ahtisaari plan is being discussed at the Security Council, it is possible the EU to give a very bad signal if there is no common position.

And as it was many times pointed out the plan of the former Finnish president solves the issue of the status of Kosovo which will put an end to the Security Council resolution 1244, giving UNMIK powers to rule the territory. But if the plan is approved this would give the EU the right to administer the territory by forming something like a shadow government. The Bulgarian foreign minister Ivaylo Kalfin explained that he intends to propose something entirely new to his colleagues in Bremen and that is Serbia to be included in the mechanism of the so called controlled independence. This control would give Kosovo the possibility of having its own legal government. But if that government takes a decision in violation of the agreement, the shadow administration will have the right to overrule it. Thus, if Serbia is included in this mechanism, there is a chance some of its greatest concerns to be addressed.

It is in a way symbolic that "Gymnich" is taking place in one of the cities that symbolize the Free Hansa. For those who don't know, the Hansa is neither a state, nor a legally bound league. It was established in 1158 and lived through the 14th century when the towns-states and their worlds economies became leaders in the European and world trade. Bremen becomes part of the Hansa economy and its unification in 1358, based on elementary capitalism. In other words when the economy is hesitating between exchange and money, as the author of the "Le temps du monde " Fernand Braudel writes.

"The Hansa consists of cities which are jealous and proud of their worthiness. From time to time they are hostile, protected by big walls; they have their own traders, patricians, craftsmen, fleet, wealth. The power of the Hansa is due, as Braudel writes, to their common interests, to the need to play one and the same economic game. The common civilization and common language is also very important for the unity". The word hansa means a group of traders. This is the Nord-sea trade zone, when it was primarily about a lot of traders and ships from Suidersee to Finland and from Sweden to Norway. The first centre of the Hansa was established in the German town of Luebeck.

Here in Bremen, in front of the park hotel where the meeting is taking place, a through the afternoon a group of Iranian emigrants protested. They insisted the EU leaders to take out of the terrorists list the so called "people's mujahideen". They also said that the mullah in Iran are terrorists and fascists. But the relations of the Union with Iran will be discussed tomorrow.

Western Balkans
Bakir Izetbegovic, Andrej Plenkovic | © Council of the EUBakir Izetbegovic, Andrej Plenkovic | © Council of the EU
In Sofia, EU Closed the Door to Enlargement but Left Money and Instructions
Aleksandar Vucic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan | © Serbian PresidencyAleksandar Vucic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan | © Serbian Presidency
Serbia between the Past and the Present in Its Draft National Security Strategy
Jean-Claude Juncker, Zoran Zaev | © European CommissionJean-Claude Juncker, Zoran Zaev | © European Commission
Juncker's Tour of the Western Balkans - Breaking the Ice