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Rajoy has a problem with the Western Balkans summit in Sofia – Euractiv

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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy unequivocally told his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov that he had a problem with the Western Balkans summit in Sofia, scheduled for May 17, and that it might not even take place if Kosovo attended. participates.

The two prime ministers met on the sidelines of a European summit on Friday March 23.

Bulgaria, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council, plans to host the leaders of the other 27 EU members and six Western Balkan countries, including Kosovo, at an EU-Western Balkans summit . Never before had Bulgaria hosted an international meeting of this magnitude and this event was to be the highlight of its presidency.

Juncker supports Bulgarian plan for the Western Balkans

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday (12 January) that he would personally speak with each of the six Western Balkan leaders to find out their expectations regarding the Bulgarian EU presidency’s plans to relaunch their long-stalled prospects for membership in the EU.

Kosovo, a former Serbian province which declared its independence in 2008, is not recognized by six EU member states: Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania. The main reason is that these countries fear separatism on their own territory and disapprove of the way Kosovo separated from Serbia.

In Spain, sensitivities are even more pronounced in the context of Catalonia’s renewed push for independence.

Rajoy said he might attend a dinner of EU member states the day before the Sofia summit, but for the day after, he said: “We have an important question. Some are talking about an expansion to unrecognized countries, including Spain. This worries us.”

The issue has already been highlighted by the Spanish media, which were quick to recall the “dark past” of Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, during the armed conflict between the Liberation Army of Kosovo (UCK) and Serbian troops.

Both Kosovar officials have been linked to atrocities during the war and have denied any wrongdoing.

A Council source told EURACTIV that invitations for the Western Balkans summit, signed by Council President Donald Tusk, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Borissov, were due to be sent today. Apparently Rajoy and Thaçi are invited.

It has been suggested that the Council and the Bulgarian Presidency are prepared to use tricks to accommodate countries that do not recognize Kosovo, such as not having flags or using only the names of participants, without their countries.

The narrative intended to minimize Rajoy’s absence would say that in large meetings, there is almost never a “full house.”

Spain claims that the meeting in Sofia is not really an EU summit, but an initiative by Borissov within the framework of the Bulgarian presidency.

There have been summits with the leaders of the Western Balkans within the EU framework, including Kosovo, but never with all member states. The last summit bringing together all the countries of the Western Balkans took place in Thessaloniki in 2003, with the 15 countries then members of the EU. But at that time, Kosovo was an international protectorate and was represented by a UN official.

European institutions believe that it will be possible to resolve the Kosovo enigma when Serbia’s accession negotiations enter the final phase and, as a final step, Belgrade will have to recognize Pristina.

Find out more with Euractiv

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