by Katrina Yoder
Kosovo, a young state with just over a million citizens, has been hoping to move into the arms of the European Union since its birth in February 2008. However, with a weak economy, internal political fragmentation, opposition from Serbia, and five member states of the EU body who do not recognise its independent sovereignty, the reality of European integration seems to be a rather distant hope.
On the 17th February 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. By the following year, twenty-two of the twenty-seven member states of the EU recognised and accepted Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of its independence. However, this majority acceptance from the EU still faces a large obstacle; Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, Romania, and Spain have refused to accept the country’s sovereignty. In order to build state relations with these EU member states, Kosovo has taken the intergovernmentalist approach to European integration through the means of traditional diplomacy. While the benefits of this approach have been slow coming, there have been some improvements. Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia, and Romania now officially accept Kosovan passports, while still maintaining their stance regarding Kosovan independence. Furthermore, the contested status of Kosovo is not a definite end to its EU integration. In 2009, the European Commission addressed the European Parliament and Council, stating that, “the absence of an agreed position on Kosovo’s status does not prevent the EU from substantial engagement with Kosovo”. The issue of status, therefore, does not inhibit the EU and Kosovo working together to further its integration.