Balkans | Kosovo begins its long-awaited adventure to run for the European Union

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Balkans |  Kosovo begins its long-awaited adventure to run for the European Union

After the expansion of the European Union gained momentum after the Russo-Ukrainian War, Kosovo accelerated its efforts to become part of the union.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, presented his country’s application to join the European Union to the Czech Presidency yesterday.

Kurti stated that it would be realistic for Kosovo to aim for a 9-year period to become a member of the European Union, adding: “We don’t want a back door or a quick transition. We want to build the European Union in our country, with our people.” Use the phrase.

As the President of Kosovo, Fyuza Osmani, said on his Twitter account about the application, “We chose Europe because we are Europe. The Republic of Kosovo has officially applied for EU membership, fulfilling the dream and desire of our people to see us as part of the EU family.” He said he shared.

Kosovo’s application received letters of support from high-ranking officials from Estonia, Austria, Finland and Croatia.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, in his message, expressed his satisfaction with Kosovo’s request to join the European Union and said: “We wish Kosovo success in its European adventure. We will continue to provide support and exchange Croatian experiences.” He said.

Can Kosovo obtain candidate status?

The Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU between Kosovo and the Union came into force in April 2016, but since Kosovo is still not recognized as an independent state by Spain, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, the Greek Cypriot administration for Southern Cyprus, and the EU institutions cannot recognize Kosovo as an independent state either.

In the Treaty on European Union, there is a provision that “any European country” can apply for membership in the Union, but it is not known exactly how the process will play out, as this is the first time that a country has made such an attempt without being officially recognized by by all union members.

The Czech Republic is expected to inform member states about Kosovo’s request next week, but Spain and Sweden, who will take over the EU presidency in 2023, are expected to not be too keen on Kosovo’s integration with the EU and the process will not progress quickly due to the EU parliamentary elections scheduled for Year 2024.

Will the tensions in the north of the country affect the process of integration into the European Union?

EU officials are mandated to reach a final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia that could resolve issues between the two countries to advance the process of integration into the union.

Finally, the two sides negotiate what is commonly known as the Franco-German Plan, with the support of the United States and all members of the European Union.

According to the plan, which has been leaked to the media, Kosovo is required to allow the creation of a Federation of Serb Municipalities in municipalities in the country where most Serbs live.

Serbia is required to respect its territorial integrity and allow it to become a member of international organizations, without recognizing Kosovo as an independent state.

If Kosovo and Serbia come to an agreement on the Franco-German plan and sign an agreement, the positions of the five EU countries that do not recognize Kosovo may change, and thus Kosovo may obtain the status of a candidate country for EU membership earlier than expected.

EU officials hope negotiations on the Franco-German plan will be completed in the spring.

Kosovo citizens will travel visa-free to the Schengen Area from January 1, 2024

Meanwhile, the European Council and the European Parliament have approved in the past weeks a liberal visa for Kosovo citizens.

If the process goes smoothly, Kosovo citizens will be able to travel to the Schengen Area without a visa from January 1, 2024.

In addition, after the Council of Europe withdrew Russia’s membership due to its attacks on Ukraine, Kosovo applied for membership of the Council of Europe and the process is still ongoing.

EU nomination process

6 countries from the Western Balkans were identified as “potential candidate” countries at the EU Leaders’ Summit held in Thessaloniki, Greece in 2003.

In 2022, the number of countries awaiting accession to the European Union has increased to 8, with Ukraine, Moldova and finally Bosnia and Herzegovina gaining “candidate country” status.

“Candidate status” is the first step in a country’s long-term EU accession process, and after a country is granted “candidate status,” accession negotiations begin, provided the conditions are met.

Accession negotiations could take years to begin and conclude.

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