Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Republic of Kosovo, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan

Search Penny Hill Blogs

Loading...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kosovo: Current Issues and U.S. Policy


Steven Woehrel
Specialist in European Affairs

On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. On February 18, the United States recognized Kosovo as an independent state. Of the 27 EU countries, 22 have recognized Kosovo, including key countries such as France, Germany, Britain, and Italy. Seventyfive countries in all have recognized Kosovo. When it declared independence, Kosovo pledged to implement the Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement, drafted by U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari. The document contains provisions aimed at safeguarding the rights of ethnic Serbs and other minorities. An International Civilian Representative and EULEX, an European Union-led law-and-order mission, are tasked with guaranteeing Kosovo’s implementation of the plan. KFOR, a NATO-led peacekeeping force, has the mission of providing a secure environment.

Serbia strongly objects to Kosovo’s declaration of independence. It has used diplomatic means to try to persuade countries to not recognize Kosovo. It has set up parallel governing institutions in Serb-majority areas in Kosovo and urged Serbs there to not cooperate with Kosovo government authorities. However, after a July 2010 International Court of Justice ruling that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was not illegal, the EU pressured Serbia into agreeing to hold direct talks with Kosovo over technical issues. The talks got underway in March 2011.

Kosovo faces daunting challenges, aside from those posed by its struggle for international recognition and the status of its ethnic minorities. Kosovo’s problems are especially severe, as it has had little recent experience in self-rule, having been controlled by Serbia in the 1990s and by the international community from 1999 until 2008. According to a November 2010 European Commission report on Kosovo, the country suffers from weak institutions, including the judiciary and law enforcement. Kosovo has high levels of government corruption and powerful organized crime networks. Many Kosovars are poor and reported unemployment is very high.

In October 2010, Secretary of State Clinton visited Kosovo. She said the United States would continue to aid Kosovo’s efforts to build a democratic country, where the rule of law is respected and ethnic minorities are well-integrated. Clinton said the United States would assist Kosovo in its efforts to join the European Union and NATO. She expressed the United States’ strong support for upcoming talks between Serbia and Kosovo. She stressed that the issues of Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are not up for discussion during the negotiations. Instead, she said, the talks should focus on “immediate and practical needs” such as “increasing travel and trade.” She said that they should be “focused,” produce results, and be quickly concluded, noting that Serbia’s next elections are scheduled for 2012. In March 2010, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman told journalists from the region that the U.S. role at the talks would be as a “guest,” not as a participant or mediator.

Since U.S. recognition of Kosovo’s independence in February 2008, congressional action on Kosovo has focused largely on foreign aid appropriations legislation. According to the FY2012 Function 150 Executive Budget Summary, Kosovo received $95 million in aid for political and economic reforms from the AEECA account in FY2010, as well as $2.5 million in FMF military aid, $0.7 million in IMET military training assistance, and $1.07 million in the NADR account for non-proliferation, anti-terrorism, demining and other functions. Congress has not adopted FY2011 foreign operations appropriations legislation so far, instead funding foreign aid with a series of continuing resolutions. Under such legislation, FY2011 U.S. aid to Kosovo may stay at roughly the same levels as in FY2010.



Date of Report: March 9, 2011
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: RS21721
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Serbia: Current Issues and U.S. Policy


Steven Woehrel
Specialist in European Affairs

Serbia faces an important crossroads in its development. It is seeking to integrate into the European Union (EU), but its progress has been hindered by a failure to arrest remaining indicted war criminals and by tensions with the United States and many EU countries over the independence of Serbia’s Kosovo province.

Parliamentary elections were held in Serbia on May 11, 2008. The new Serbian parliament approved a government coalition led by pro-Western forces, but which also includes the Socialist Party (once led by indicted war criminal Slobodan Milosevic). The global economic crisis poses serious challenges for Serbia. The downturn has required painful austerity measures. In January 2009, the International Monetary Fund approved a $530 million stand-by loan for Serbia and another $4.2 billion loan in April. Serbia has also received loans from the World Bank and EU.

Serbia’s key foreign policy objectives are to secure membership in the European Union and to hinder international recognition of Kosovo’s independence. The European Union signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia on April 29, 2008. It provides a framework for enhanced cooperation between the EU and Serbia in a variety of fields, with the perspective of EU membership. In December 2009, the EU agreed to allow the trade provisions of the SAA to be implemented. The rest of the SAA will enter into force after the agreement is ratified by all EU member states. In December 2009, Serbia submitted an application to join the EU, but EU member governments have yet to decide whether to accept Serbia as a membership candidate. Even if Serbia is accepted as a candidate, years of negotiations will be required before it can join.

Serbia has vowed to take “all legal and diplomatic measures” to preserve its former province of Kosovo as part of Serbia. So far, 75 countries, including the United States and 22 of 27 EU countries, have recognized Kosovo’s independence. Russia, Serbia’s ally on the issue, has used the threat of its Security Council veto to block U.N. membership for Kosovo. Serbia’s diplomatic strategy suffered a setback when the International Court of Justice ruled in July 2010 that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not contravene international law. After the ruling, in part due to substantial pressure by the EU, Serbia agreed to hold EU-brokered talks with Kosovo on technical issues. The talks are planned to begin in March 2011.

In December 2006, Serbia joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PFP) program. PFP is aimed at helping countries come closer to NATO standards and at promoting their cooperation with NATO. Although it supports NATO membership for all of its neighbors, Serbia is not seeking NATO membership. This may be due to such factors as memories of NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999, U.S. support for Kosovo’s independence, and a desire to maintain close ties with Russia.

U.S.-Serbian relations have improved since the United States recognized Kosovo’s independence in February 2008, when Serbia sharply condemned the U.S. move and demonstrators sacked a portion of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. During a May 2009 visit to Belgrade, Vice President Joseph Biden stressed strong U.S. support for close ties with Serbia. He said the countries could “agree to disagree” on Kosovo’s independence. He called on Serbia to transfer the remaining war criminals to the ICTY, promote reform in neighboring Bosnia, and cooperate with international bodies in Kosovo.



Date of Report: March 1, 2011
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: RS22601
Price: $29.95

Follow us on TWITTER at
http://www.twitter.com/alertsPHP or #CRSreports

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
To order, e-mail
Penny Hill Press  or call us at 301-253-0881. Provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.