Focus on Turkey and Kosovo

Institute for European Politics

Need for stronger reform commitment in the Western Balkans
 
Germany continues to support the accession of the Western Balkan states to the European Union. As Chancellor Merkel said, “the future of the Western Balkans lies within the EU”.[1] However, while many important steps have been taken already, substantial reforms especially in the areas of justice and administration have not yet been devised. Here, „every state forges its own destiny“.[2] The accession conference with Croatia under the German EU Presidency on June 26th 2007 allowed for the opening of accession negotiations in six further chapters. Yet, with the salient issue of the ecologic and fisheries protection zone[3] Croatian commitment to reform has come under scrutiny – as have the reform endeavours in all Western Balkan countries. Both ruling parties in the grand coalition – Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD) – are concerned about the progress and the sustainability of the reforms in the Western Balkan region, brought up by the European Commission’s enlargement strategy paper and progress reports on the (potential) candidate countries.
 
On November 8th, 2007 the German Parliament held a plenary debate on the future of the EU enlargement.[4] The CDU strongly questioned the sustainability of the reforms in the (potential) candidate countries and their intrinsic motivation for reforms: “If we take the progress reports seriously, we have to stress that reforms should not only be performed as an EU accession condition, but also because of the will of the people in the particular country […].”[5] Reforms in the (potential) candidate countries are considered to be “too slow and too superficial”. The SPD also voices concerns about the pace of reforms in the (potential) candidate countries, but less fiercely so. The SPD, as well as the Greens, rather stress the EU’s responsibility for the Western Balkans and the historic successes of previous enlargements. The SPD sees Croatia’s accession until 2010 as an urgent target and proposed to turn two of the 27 European Commissioners into “regional commissioners for South – East Europe.[6]
 
The ongoing debate on Turkey
 
The German debate on Turkish EU membership was particularly fuelled not by the Commission strategy document but rather by recent discussion on integration of Turkish immigrants. While the CDU tries to define the geographical borders of the EU, thus aiming at excluding a full membership of Turkey,[7] the SPD stresses the founding principle of the EU, that “any European state” is theoretically eligible for membership. The concept of the “privileged partnership” with Turkey has been developed further within the CDU.[8] At the federal party congress it was integrated into the new CDU party programme,[9] but even before several regional party conferences revealed that a full Turkish EU membership was rejected in principle and that an associated membership of the Turkish party AKP in the European People’s Party (European Parliament) was heavily opposed.[10] The SPD on the other hand wants to continue Turkish accession negotiations “with the goal of success”.[11]
 
Deepening and widening or deepening before widening…and other questions of enlargement
 
Germany has previously been a key country in supporting the successive EU enlargements. Yet, the German public opinion is marked by a growing enlargement fatigue.[12]
 
The Commission’s strategy document once again gave rise to the discussion whether the EU must pursue institutional consolidation and political deepening of its own matters before pursuing further enlargement (CDU/CSU[13]) or while simultaneously pursuing enlargement (position of the SPD and Greens[14]). In its renewed party programme (“Hamburger Programm”), the SPD expressed the need for a deepened democratic and social European Union, which is open for new members (explicitly Turkey).[15]
 
A political issue in this context is, whether the European Commission should grant advancements and concessions, as it has done with Romania, Bulgaria and other states of the 2004 enlargement, or whether such political concessions are now beyond question, as they seem to slow down reform efforts rather than speeding them up. Hence, in order not to lose credibility, in particular the CDU demands that the Commission insists on the full completion of the accession criteria by the candidate countries.[16] The academic community, however, agrees that there must be an end to political concessions in accession negotiations and that the new Treaty of Lisbon makes this very clear (hint at the Copenhagen criteria in Article 49 c).[17]
 
Kosovo – prevailing diplomatic manoeuvres
 
Although not among the first countries, the German government very quickly recognised the independence of the Kosovo after the declaration of independence.[18] The German Auswärtiges Amt (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) emphasised the urgent need to find a solution regarding the situation in Kosovo. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Steinmeier, however stressed that “we would have preferred a “mutual agreement” – also including Russia, but after nine years of unsuccessful negotiations he was prepared to accept Kosovo’s independence as a “final point” to the disintegration of former Yugoslavia. Steinmeier underlined the German commitment to helping Kosovo on the way to a stable and democratic state, by deploying the not only thousands of peace keeping soldiers from the Federal Armed Forces, but also by providing the civil EU mission with policemen, judges and lawyers, to advice the Kosovo government.[19]
 
Based on an initiative from Foreign Minister Steinmeier in August 2007, representatives of Russia, the USA and the EU had formed a so-called Kosovo-Troika. This group should explore the possibility for a negotiated solution by additional diplomatic means and achieve a position, acceptable for all parties. On December 7th, 2007 a report was submitted to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon. The experienced German Ambassador to the UK, Wolfgang Ischinger, represented the EU in the Kosovo-Troika.[20] In order not to undermine his mission and the German efforts, the German government was reluctant to support any further initiatives. The proposal of the Hungarian prime minister to mediate in the Kosovo conflict as well, was rejected by the chancellor Angela Merkel, to enable the EU “to speak with one voice”.[21]
 
The government also tried to inspire and foster the negotiations by a special German experience, taking the ‘Grundlagenvertrag’ as a possible modus vivendi. By this agreement in 1973 East and West Germany legally defined the conditions of their co-existence following the modus vivendi formula ‘one nation, but two states’.[22] The scientific community also accompanied the German diplomatic initiative. The political analysts Altmann and Reljic worked out different scenarios for the time after 10 December 2007, assuming that a negotiated solution would be unlikely to achieve.[23]
 
As for the EU’s relations with Serbia, the German government continues its commitment to drawing Serbia closer to the EU.[24]


[1] Speech by Chancellor Angela Merkel at the SEECP-Summit in Zagreb, 11.05.2007, available at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Rede/2007/05/2007-05-11-rede-bk... (last access: 03.03.2008); Foreign Minister Steinmeier: Bindungen zwischen Serbien und der EU stärken, 05.07.3007, available at: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/de/Infoservice/Presse/Meldungen/200... (last access 03.03.2008).

[2] Minister of State G. Gloser, Speech at the Opening of the 17. German – Hungarian Forum, 07.11.2007, available at: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/de/Infoservice/Presse/Reden/2007/07... (last access: 03.03.2008).

[3] Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: EU und Kroatien streiten über die Adria, 12.12.2007, p. 6.
 
[4] Cf. German Bundestag (parliament), Plenary debate 123, Agenda item 24: Developing the EU’s enlargement and neighbourhood policy, pp. 12869 – 12874.

[5] Cf.: Dr. Stephan Eisel: minutes of the Bundestag, 16th electoral term, 123rd session, 08.11.2007, Plpr.-Nr.: 16/123, p. 12871.

[6] Cf.: MdB Axel Schäfer: minutes of the Bundestag, 16th electoral term, 123rd session, 08.11.2007, p. 12870.

[7] Cf.: MdB Dr. Stephan Eisel: minutes of the Bundestag, 16th electoral term, 123rd session, 08.11.2007, p. 12871.

[8] Cf.: Institut für Europäische Politik: EU-25 Watch, Vol. 3, July 2006, pp. 166-167, available at: http://www.iep-berlin.de/index.php?id=185&L=http%3A%2F%2Fcontraforma.com... (last access: 28.02.2008).

[9] Cf.: Christlich-Demokratische Union (CDU): Freiheit und Sicherheit. Grundsätze für Deutschland, Guiding party programme, p. 101, point 328 available at: http://www.cdu.de/doc/pdfc/071203-beschluss-grundsatzprogramm-6-navigier... (last access: 15.01.2008).

[10] Cf.: Basis rebelliert gegen Türkei-Politik der CDU. Kreisverbände wollen Ablehnung des EU-Beitritts ins Programm schreiben, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 1 November 2007, p. 5.

[11] Cf.: MdB Axel Schäfer: minutes of the Bundestag, 16th electoral term, 123rd session, 08.11.2007, p. 12870.

[12] Barbara Lippert (2007): Alle paar Jahre wieder – Dynamik und Steuerungsversuche des EU-Erweiterungsprozesses, in: integration 4/2007, pp. 422-439.
 
[13] MdB Thomas Silberhorn: minutes of the Bundestag, 16th electoral term, 123rd session, 08.11.2007, p. 12873.

[14] MdB Jürgen Trittin: minutes of the Bundestag, 16th electoral term, 123rd sitting, 08.11.2007, p. 12873

[15] Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD): Hamburger Programm – Grundsatzprogramm der Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands, passed at the national general party assembly 28 October 2007, available at: http://www.spd.de/show/1731549/Hamburger%20Programm_final.pdf (last access: 15.01.2008), p. 30.

[16] MdB Thomas Silberhorn: minutes of the Bundestag, 16th electoral term, 123rd session, 08.11.2008, p. 12874.

[17] Solveig Richter (2008): Die Erweiterungspolitik der EU nach dem Reformvertrag von Lissabon. Politische Signalwirkung trotz geringer Modifikation, SWP, Diskussionpapier FG2.

[18] Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Germany recognizes independent Kosovo: Creating a democratic state of law, available at: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/de/Aussenpolitik/RegionaleSchwerpun... (last access: 03.03.2008). On February 21st, 2008, the German President Horst Köhler officially submitted a letter to Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu.

[19] Speech by Foreign Minister Steinmeier on the issue of Kosovo independence, held before the German Bundestag, 20.02.2008, available at: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/de/Infoservice/Presse/Reden/2008/08... (last access: 03.03.2008).

[20] Wolfgang Ischinger had a long-standing experience in the diplomatic corps as political director in the ministry, state secretary and ambassador to the USA and proven experiences in the region as negotiator of the Dayton agreement.

[21] Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Merkel will keine Vermittlerrolle für Ungarn. „Europa soll im Kosovo-Konflikt mit einer Stimme sprechen“. Gespräche in Budapest, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22 August 2007, p. 1.

[22] According to Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Djelic at IEP background talk, 25 October 2007, Berlin. Cf. also Speech by Foreign Minister Steinmeier on the issue of Kosovo independence, held before the German Bundestag, 20.02.2008, available at: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/de/Infoservice/Presse/Reden/2008/08... (last access: 03.03.2008).

[23] Franz-Lothar Altmann/ Dusan Reljic: Weiß, Schwarz, Grün – Drei Szenarien für Kosovo nach dem 10. Dezember 2007, Discussion Paper FG 2 of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, 8 September 2007, available at: http://www.swp-berlin.org/de/common/get_document.php?asset_id=4341 (last access: 15.01.2008).

[24] German Foreign Affairs Minister Steinmeier: Serbia's future lies in Europe, available at: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/en/WillkommeninD/D-Informationen/Na... (last access: 03.03.2008).