Summary: "The future of Kosovo and the role of the European Union" – Speech by EU Commissioner Rehn (28 March 2007: Brussels)
Speech by Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Enlargement, "The future of Kosovo and the role of the European Union", European Parliament debate on the future Status of Kosovo (Lagendijk report), Brussels
Mr President, Honourable Members,
I want to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Lagendijk, and members for their intensive work on this report.
The report and proposal of the UN Special Envoy President Ahtisaari were handed to the Security Council this past Monday. I join the UN Secretary-General and the EU Presidency in supporting the report and the proposal put forward by President Ahtisaari.
I believe we can all agree that in an ideal world the two parties would have found an acceptable compromise between themselves. Over the past 14 months of negotiations, common ground was found on several practical aspects of the settlement. Unfortunately, Belgrade and Pristina remained diametrically opposed on the core question of status.
President Ahtisaari's proposal is designed to foster the building of a democratic multi-ethnic society in Kosovo, based on the rule of law. It contains wide-ranging provisions intended to secure the future of all communities in Kosovo. It lays the foundation for economic development and political stability in Kosovo, which will enhance regional stability.
The essence of decision on Kosovo is European unity. We must continue to support President Ahtisaari and his proposal with consistent determination in the UN Security Council
There is no gain in delaying the decision. The UN has already been running Kosovo for 8 years. The status quo is not sustainable.
The status process has now reached a decisive phase. I expect the Security Council will live up to its responsibilities in a spirit of responsible multilateralism and bring the process to an early and successful closure.
Once the status issue is settled, the implementation phase will start. This phase will bring its own challenges. Here, too, the EU must work as one.
The EU will play a leading role both in the running of international civilian missions and in support of Kosovo's European perspective. This will require deployment of all our instruments and considerable resources. We have no exit strategy, only an entry strategy.
Let me be clear: local ownership and partnership with the international community is key to successful status implementation.
The EU and its international partners cannot substitute for Kosovo's own efforts, neither in terms of political will nor in terms of resources. But we can assist.
The status settlement will not come for free.
Kosovo's financial needs after status cannot yet be fully known. But early estimates suggest that international grant assistance of up to around €1.3 - 1.5 billion may be required for the first 3 years after status.
There will be four main areas to cover:
- Kosovo's share of the Yugoslav debt,
- the cost of status implementation,
- the needs of economic development; and
the cost of the international presence, including the planned ESDP mission, which is expected to be the largest civilian crisis management mission that the EU has ever undertaken. The EU's overall presence in Kosovo is likely to run in the order of 1500-2000 international staff.
We all know that the European Union currently faces important foreign policy challenges in other theatres, including the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Darfour. Kosovo is not the only funding priority.
But Europe has a special responsibility in Kosovo, which is in our own front yard. The EU must continue to have the means to sustain its policies and see the process through.
At the EU Foreign Ministers' Gymnich meeting on Friday, I will stress that resources cannot come from the EU budget alone. EU Member States and our international community partners must share the responsibility.
The Commission will put together a funding package that reflects the scale of our responsibility. I count on your support for this.
A final word on Serbia.
Let me assure you that the EU remains fully committed to Serbia's EU perspective. We are ready to work with a new government towards this goal. It is now up to the new government of Serbia to meet the conditions for resuming the negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement.
Strong engagement with Serbia is essential to bring the status process to a successful conclusion. A Serbia that has confidence in its European future will be helped to overcome the legacy of the past.