What can Borrelli’s nomination for Kosovo – Serbia dialogue?
The new European Union foreign policy chief nominee, Josep Borrell, is from Spain, one of the most powerful countries of the European Union that don’t recognize Kosovo’s independence.
The 72-year-old Borrell, who is currently Foreign Minister of Spain, is expected to return at the helm of EU’s foreign policy, after having served as President of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2007.
He is known as a supporter of the European Union. In March this year, Borrell visited Belgrade where he said that Spain was against “the unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence” and that it “will change its policy vis-à-vis Serbia when it comes to Kosovo”. “We have told the President (Vucic) and the Minister (Dacic) about Spain’s position toward the unilateral declaration of Kosovo’s independence. At the same time, we believe that only through dialogue can there be a permanent compromise solution to the issue,” Borrell said.
In August 2018, Borrell said he was against a land swap along ethnic lines between Kosovo and Serbia. Spanish news agency EFE quoted Borrell as saying that “Europe was not built to create monolithic and homogenous units on the basis of culture and ethnicity, but rather to help different people live together”. If the nomination is confirmed, Borrell will replace current EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. He will also lead the dialogue for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. The talks, which started in 2011 with EU mediation, are currently at a halt because of Kosovo’s import tariff on Serbian goods. Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said it was encouraging that the new President of the European Commission “is a close of associate German Chancellor Angela Merkel”, referring to Ursula von der Leyen. “In terms of the dialogue and the nomination of a Spanish diplomat, it is too early to say where dialogue will end up, will it return to where it was or if it will be transferred to the European Commission,” Haradinaj said. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic too commented on Borrell’s eventual role in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. “Josep Borrell’s nomination as EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security is good news for us, but the situation remains difficult. It cannot be resolved by having one or two people on your side,” Vucic said. James Ker-Lindsay, professor at the London School of Economics, said Borell’s nomination will raise questions in the Balkans as he comes from a country that doesn’t recognize Kosovo. According to him, Borrell could be the right person for a historic settlement between Kosovo and Serbia. In a Twitter post, he also said Borrell knows that the resolution of the issue requires a compromise that will be accepted even by EU member states that haven’t recognized Kosovo.
“Borrell has credibility in Serbia. Spain’s position as a non-recogniser means that he’ll be seen as a more sympathetic figure in Belgrade than many other European figures. Used well, this will give him a degree of leverage,” he tweeted.