The European Union’s leaders have reiterated the bloc’s commitment to send a civilian mission to Kosovo. Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said the EU police and justice officials would deploy after Christmas.
Following a one-day EU summit in Brussels, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates of the Union’s outgoing presiding nation told reporters:
“We took a formal decision to send a European Security and Defence Policy mission to Kosovo. This is doubtless the clearest signal the EU could give that it wants to take the initiative on the question of Kosovo, its future development and peace in that region.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the
breakaway Serbian province’s independence was seen as inevitable. This comes against a backdrop of criticism by the outgoing UN’s top warcrimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte, who said the EU had to keep up pressure on Serbia to hand over war criminals.
Sarkozy said: “Everybody agrees that to solve Kosovo, Serbia still has a problem. Those who say – and this is France’s position – that Kosovo’s independence is inevitable, and we say nothing to the Serbs… you think that’s going to move things along? There has to be an effort to calm things down!”
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic responds:
“Serbia would never agree to give up its Kosovo province in exchange for speeding up accession to the European Union. A trade-off is out of question.”
The EU did not spell out support for Kosovo’s independence — in light of differences among EU member states.
A senior NATO commander has said Belgrade has promised it would not use force against the breakaway province if Pristina carried out its vow to declare independence early next year. NATO has approximately 15,000 troops in Kosovo.