In June 2003 the EU-Western Balkans summit resulted in the Thessaloniki Declaration, affirming unequivocally that ‘the future of the Balkans is within the European Union’. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the declaration, and on the eve of Croatia’s accession to the EU, this publication assesses the progress that the countries of the Western Balkans have made on the path to European integration in the past decade.
Kosovo’s local elections and the way ahead
Alert - No41 - 13 December 2013
Rosa Balfour, Alice Pappas
The municipal elections held in Kosovo between 3 November and 1 December have been seen as a major step towards resolving one of the most complicated issues in the Balkans. For the first time since Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, Serbs from northern Kosovo participated in local elections with Belgrade’s blessing. Facilitated and monitored by the OSCE mission on the ground and with NATO and EULEX support, the elections aimed at providing the municipalities of North Mitrovica, Leposavić, Zvečan, and Zubin Potok with a degree of autonomy within Kosovo’s legal framework.
With the second round having been conducted smoothly on 1 December, the EU and UN consider the election result to have provided a sufficient mandate for municipal governance and fulfilled the expectations of the 19 April agreement on normalising Serbia-Kosovo relations.
Huge problems remain, especially in northern Kosovo, but the peaceful conduct of the elections potentially paves the way for Kosovo’s Serbs to vote in the parliamentary elections of 2014 – and is a milestone for Kosovo, Serbia, and the future of EU engagement in the region.