Friday EU foreign ministers did the same thing.
MEPs demand supervised sovereignty for Kosovo
29.03.2007 - 17:41 CET By Renata GoldirovaEUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS -
Members of the European Parliament have adopted a report demanding that the disputed province of Kosovo be granted "supervised sovereignty."
It is the strongest expression of EU pro-independence feeling yet, with the European Commission and member states remaining shy of such a strong term.
319 MEPs on Thursday (29 March) voted in favour of having a clear label on post-status Kosovo, while 268 - mainly from Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Romania and Slovakia - were against.
The vote comes just days after UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari proposed "supervised independence" for the territory, which is currently a province of Serbia administrated by the UN.
Dutch green MEP Joost Lagendijk, who drafted the report, expressed his satisfaction over the fact that the European Parliament chose to send an unambiguous signal to EU capitals, while saying it is the "first step" to a "united Europe" over the Kosovo issue.
He stressed that if the EU fails to act as a bloc, Russia will "cleverly" use member states' divisions as an excuse to postpone or veto the UN decision on future status of Kosovo.
The EU will face a key test for its united stance on the issue on Friday (30 March), when foreign ministers are due to discuss Kosovo's future at a meeting in the German city of Bremen.
Some member states - notably Slovakia, Spain and Greece - remain against Kosovo being put on the road to independence. Slovakia has recently emerged as a vocal opponent of independence, with its parliament this week adopting a declaration saying "the future status of Kosovo must respect Serbia's legitimate demands." Bratislava currently has a seat in the UN Security Council - the body entitled to carry the ultimate decision on Kosovo.
According to the Slovak declaration, "the possibility of negotiations has not been exhausted", while "the full and unsupervised independence of Kosovo is not in the interest of the region".
On the other hand, EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn stressed that 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", he said.
Brussels believes that only a united European front could get Russia and China on board, as both Moscow and Beijing have objections to supervised independence.
Earlier today, Moscow confirmed its "principled position against imposing on the sides any kinds of scenario, so that a solution is worked out that would be acceptable both to Belgrade and Prishtina," according to a statement from the Kremlin.
The EU's takeover plan unveiled
Meanwhile, an internal report by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and commissioner Rehn has revealed the bloc is well-advanced in planning to replace the 3,000-strong UN administration that has been running Kosovo since 1999.
According to the document, it will take roughly 120 days for the UN to hand over responsibilities to the EU, press reports say. "
The transition period could also be highly sensitive in political and security terms... There could be interest of extremist groups on both sides in provoking security incidents and inciting members of communities to leave Kosovo", the Financial times quotes the Solana-Rehn report.
Mr Rehn speaking to the European Parliament on Wednesday (28 March) also revealed a few details on the operation in post-status Kosovo - which constitutes the EU's largest civilian crisis management mission ever.
The EU's overall presence in Kosovo is likely to run to the order of 1,500 to 2,000 international staff, including police officers and judges, while early estimates suggest that international grant assistance of up to around €1.3 - 1.5 billion may be required for the first three years after the status is implemented."
At the EU foreign ministers' meeting on Friday (30 March), I will stress that resources cannot come from the EU budget alone. EU Member States and our international community partners must share the responsibility", Mr Rehn said.
EU Pushes for Kosovo Independence, Overcomes Internal Divisions
By James G. Neuger and Mark Deen
March 31 (Bloomberg) -- European Union foreign ministers pushed for independence for the disputed Serb province of Kosovo, trying to forge a united front against a possible Russian veto.
Spain, Slovakia and Greece became the last EU countries to fall in line behind independence for the southern Serb province, which has been under international control since NATO's bombing campaign drove out Serb troops in 1999.
``It's never the case that all European partners have the same opinion in advance,'' German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a press conference after chairing an EU meeting in Bremen, Germany today. ``That's how it is in the Kosovo question.''
EU officials said papering over the cracks is vital to prevent Russia, a longstanding ally of Serbia, from wielding a United Nations Security Council veto that would destabilize the Balkans.
``We're talking to the Russians without succeeding so far in bringing about a visible change in the Russian position,'' Steinmeier said.
A Kosovo settlement would be the final act in the breakup of Yugoslavia after the civil war of the 1990s. It is also the key to future EU membership for Serbia, the largest ex-Yugoslav republic and the slowest to embrace the EU.
``We have no exit strategy, we have only an entry strategy as regards Kosovo and the whole region of the western Balkans,'' EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said.
The EU has turned a peaceful settlement in the Balkans into a test of its own foreign-policy credibility, a decade after a divided Europe had to rely on the U.S. military to stop the Yugoslav bloodshed.
``European unity? I don't think that's the problem,'' Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said. ``The problem is challenges in the region, which are seriously underestimated so far. I'm worried about that.''
Spain had voiced concern that formally splitting off Kosovo from Serbia would give fresh momentum to the Basque separatist group ETA.
In its biggest civilian crisis management mission ever, the EU will dispatch experts and police to supervise the settlement and estimates the cost at 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) to $1.5 billion euros for 2008-10.
The U.S. will provide around 380 million euros, leaving the EU and other donors to pick up the rest of the bill. Also in dispute is what to do about Kosovo's share of Serbia's external debt, estimated at 840 million euros, about a third of the province's gross domestic product.
Initially buoyed by an influx of international aid personnel after the 1999 cease-fire, Kosovo's economy has since stumbled. It shrank in 2002, 2003 and 2005, and the official unemployment rate is now over 50 percent.
The UN proposal would grant Kosovo the hallmarks of statehood such as a central bank, an army and a flag, while providing protections for the roughly 200,000 Serbs living in the mostly ethnic Albanian province of 2 million.
The proposal's author, Finnish diplomat Martti Ahtisaari, told the Security Council this week that ``the only viable option is independence'' after Serbs and Kosovars failed to reach a negotiated settlement.
Opposition to a final break with Kosovo unites the two parties set to form the next Serb government, one led by President Boris Tadic and the other by Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. The parties face a May 14 deadline to form a government after elections in January.
To contact the reporter on this story: James G. Neuger in Bremen at email@example.com