chapter  13
The EU’s structural diplomacy towards Kosovo
Pages 17

Introduction The EU’s diplomacy towards Kosovo can be considered one of the main successes of EU foreign policy in the last couple of years. Nearly 15 years after the violent conflict between Serbs and Kosovars and after the Kosovo war of 1999 (which ended Serbian dominance of Kosovo), the EU managed to bring both parties together and induced them to the signing of two far-reaching agreements in 2012 and 2013. This was a remarkable achievement for EU diplomacy, not least because the EU was able to realise this success despite internal disagreement about the formal status of Kosovo. After its unilateral declaration of independence in 2008, Kosovo was formally recognised by most but not all EU member states, with Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus rejecting Kosovo’s independence – thereby following the position of Serbia. Fundamental disagreement about one of the most essential issues of diplomacy (i.e. the formal recognition of a state) had thus not stopped the EU from developing a very intensive and successful diplomacy towards that same ‘state’, which displays the EU’s diplomatic agility and ability to overcome the obstacles inherent to its own foreign policy system. In this chapter we analyse the EU’s policy towards Kosovo through the conceptual framework proposed in Chapter 12. The EU’s diplomacy towards Kosovo can be considered as a prime example of structural diplomacy: a diplomacy which seeks to influence and shape sustainable political, legal, economic, social, security and other structures in a given geographic area (see also Keukeleire and Delreux 2014: 27-31). The EU’s structural diplomacy towards Kosovo also fulfils to a large extent the various requirements of an effective structural diplomacy as enumerated in Chapter 12. First, as will be discussed in the next section, the EU’s structural diplomacy is complemented by more traditional forms of diplomacy focused on the management of crises and conflicts. Second, the EU’s structural diplomacy is characterised by a high degree of intensity and comprehensiveness, focusing on the various interrelated structures (political, legal, socio-economic, security, etc.) and levels (individual, national, inter-state, sub-regional and regional) – which is discussed in the second section of this chapter. On the other hand, the Kosovo case also demonstrates various limitations and dilemmas in pursuing a successful

structural diplomacy in complex post-conflict situations. Adopting an outside-in perspective, the final section shows that some of the requirements for a successful structural diplomacy are not fully fulfilled, contrary to what initially may have been assumed from a ‘Brussels’ – or ‘EU’ – perspective. This chapter builds on field research in Kosovo in 2008, 2009 and 2013. In this context, over 70 interviews were conducted with Kosovar diplomats, civil servants and staff from various Kosovar ministries, agencies, NGOs and think tanks, with European diplomats, civil servants, judges and other staff in the EU’s EULEX Kosovo mission, the ICO/EUSR office, the European Commission Liaison Office and European Union Office, and with staff from other international organisations and international NGOs in Kosovo.1