In an interview for IBNA, Professor of European Law, Avni Mazrreku, talks about the idea of a regional market in the Western Balkan, the positive sides and the negative sides of this process, the path that Kosovo must follow in this direction and the priorities of the new government in the implementation of the European agenda
IBNA: The EU is aiming to form a joint market in Western Balkans. Being an expert of European integration affairs, how do you see this process?
From the point of view of EU senior officials, of Mrs. Mogherini and Mr. Hahn, their declarations match the declarations that were made in the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003. Why am I mentioning this summit? Because at that time, Western Balkans, including Slovenia and Croatia, was at the focus of the EU enlargement policy. But, several elements of the policy of enlargement launched in 2003 and now, in 2017, can be considered as inefficient now. The Thessaloniki agenda had predicted a faster perspective of integration of these countries of Western Balkans in the EU. Of course, one of the issues which is still pending is that concerning the status of Kosovo, because the EU countries are yet to recognize the independence of Kosovo. As a result, the EU’s stance in relation to the accession of Kosovo in the EU is decomposed in this case. Thus, the EU enlargement policy is looking a new solution to make the policy of the EU enlargement policy more functional. From Kosovo’s national interest point of view, this must be seen in two dimensions. First, Kosovo must know this problem well and must put itself in a position which makes it necessary for Kosovo to adhere in the EU as a state and not as a territory, like Serbia claims. The second dimension, which may be dangerous, comes as a result of the failure to recognize the way the EU functions, in order for Kosovo to accept a new arrangement, which doesn’t offer our state the right of accession in the EU, as it is the case with other countries. As we know, all countries become EU members like states. Therefore, these methods that the EU is using in this case, impacted by other countries which haven’t recognized Kosovo, may lead toward a scenario which is not in Kosovo’s favor.
IBNA: Government of Kosovo and governments of several other countries of the region have rejected the idea of a regional market. Can the EU impose itself upon these countries in order for them to recognize this project?
The truth is that the government of Kosovo has never rejected the idea of a customs union in the Balkans. This incentive is known by the name of Paris agenda, which has been an agreement of all the countries of Western Balkans in July 2016 in Paris. I think that Kosovo and its institutions must understand that the positioning of its foreign policy in line with the EU policy of enlargement cannot be an issue of the whims of a particular individual. Kosovo’s stances on such incentives must follow deep analyses.
IBNA: Being an expert of this domain, what would you recommend to the institutions of Kosovo?
I would recommend them that regardless of the new ideas coming from Brussels about the EU’s enlargement in the Balkans, they only need one thing. If Kosovo’s is imposed a condition to enter structures such as the unique regional market or a Balkan union, then Kosovo must condition this with its recognition by Serbia. If Serbia undertakes such step, then we will not have any problems to become part of such structures, because Kosovo must not fear competitiveness and cooperation. We must not be afraid of collaborating in any way possible, but we must not accept a contractual arrangement, where the other party has the status of the contractual party.
IBNA: Kosovo is soon expecting to create the new government. Whatt must be the main priority of this government in relation to European integration?
Government of Kosovo must have several priorities in this aspect. The first priority is to achieve a national compromise between the majority and opposition on issues that relate to the European agenda, in order not to have delays in this aspect. This national consensus must continue for other important issues, such as the reformation of public administration, and fight against organized crime and corruption. I think that the political class must come to an agreement about the creation of the Association of Serb Communes and border deal with Montenegro, because the latter has been imposed as a condition by the European Commission for the liberalization of the visa regime. If the new government doesn’t take these issues into account, then we will once again see a vicious circle which will only soften Kosovo’s problems. /balkaneu.com/