Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci said that he respected the decision of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy not to attend the EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia but he emphasized that ‘Kosovo is not Catalonia’. Kosovo, a partially recognized state and disputed territory that declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, is not recognized by five EU member states – Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania.
Having separatist tendencies at home, these countries disapprove of the way Kosovo seceded from Serbia. On the other hand, 113 United Nations members have recognized the independence of Kosovo. Given the sensitive political situation at home, Mr. Rajoy did not want to trigger further tensions and potentially open a debate around double standards. “We have an important issue. Some speak of enlargement with countries, which are not recognized, including by Spain. This causes us some worry,” he said.
Kosovo’s President Thaci said in response that Kosovo had been friendly towards Spain. “We respect the democratic tradition of the Spanish state as well as its territorial integrity. We understand the sensitivity of the issue in Spain and we will continue to remain friendly countries. Sooner or later we all will be members of one big family, the EU,” he explained. Kosovo and Serbia need to solve their outstanding disputes likely by 2025 when Serbia should join the EU. Brussels also helped to negotiate some rapprochement between Kosovo and Serbia regarding the Serbian minority in Kosovo. The so-called Brussels Agreement allowed the Serb minority in Kosovo to have its own police force and court of appeals.