‘Kosovo is a special case, it will not set a precedent’

Kosovo is a special case and recognition of its independence cannot be a precedent for any other international crisis, according to France’s Ambassador to Greece Christophe Farnaud. In this interview with Kathimerini, he also explained his country’s view in favor of a special partnership between Turkey and the European Union rather than full membership. Why the rush to recognize the independence of Kosovo, an act that threatens to divide the EU? I believe there was the general impression that the status quo could not carry on and that it was dangerous for the stability of the Balkans and European security. No agreement was possible between Belgrade and Pristina after the failure of the troika’s mediation efforts. Europe displayed unity by assuming its responsibilities. On December 14, its 27 member states decided to set up the EULEX mission to set up a democratic and multiethnic state under the rule of law. Moreover, it was unanimously decided at the General Affairs Council on January 18 to give the green light to states that were ready to recognize Kosovo. At the end of the council meeting, 18 European states announced their willingness to recognize, immediately or over the next few days, the state of Kosovo. How can a domino effect be averted in the Balkans or elsewhere (such as Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia)? How will Serbia’s isolation by the West be dealt with? The case of Kosovo is unique in that it has to do with its history in the former Yugoslavia, the events of 1999, the intervention of the international community and the UN stewardship. It is related to the establishment, under the auspices of the UN, of democratically elected temporary authorities and with the negotiations that took place under the auspices of the UN special envoy and the Russia-US-Europe troika. On the basis of all these factors, Kosovo cannot be seen as setting a precedent. As for Serbia, it is a European country and its interests, like ours and those of all the countries in the region, are in having good relations with the EU. President Nicolas Sarkozy has personally emphasized the need to give Belgrade credible hope of joining the European family. With regard to Turkey, Prime Minister Francois Fillon recently reiterated France’s position in favor of a special partnership for Turkey with the EU which will not culminate in full membership. In that case, why are the accession talks continuing? France and Europe have a considerable stake in that large Mediterranean state. Of course there is disagreement over the final outcome of the talks, between the full accession that Turkey wants and a special partnership that can be as close as possible without ending in accession. That is why we set a course that we can follow together… but the outcome will not be a foregone conclusion.

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