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Does the EU Have a Foreign Policy?
The EU has a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), in which member states adopt common policies, undertake joint actions, and pursue coordinated strategies in areas in which they can reach consensus. CFSP was established in 1993; the eruption of hostilities in the Balkans in the early 1990s and the EU’s limited tools for responding to the crisis convinced EU leaders that the Union had to improve its ability to act collectively in the foreign policy realm. Previous EU attempts to further such political integration had foundered for decades on member state concerns about protecting national sovereignty and different foreign policy prerogatives.
CFSP decision-making is dominated by the member states and requires the unanimous agreement of all 28. Member states must also ensure that national policies are in line with agreed EU strategies and positions (e.g., imposing sanctions on a country). However, CFSP does not preclude individual member states pursuing their own national foreign policies or conducting their own national diplomacy.
The EU provides financial assistance to candidate and potential candidate countries and helps them reform and adapt their institutions and legislations. Financial assistance takes the form of projects on the ground following phases of programming and contracting. Hundreds of projects are being carried out across all sectors, countries and regions.
Democratization in Kosovo
Kosovo had a different transition compared to other former communist countries after the fall of communism in the region that influenced the development of pluralism and democratization of the political party. This influence determined Kosovo’s different path for many reasons, but the main ones can be attributed to changes in the political, social and economic environment in Kosovo after the constitutional changes imposed by the Milošević regime. The initial demands of most of the political groups were a repetition of the previous ones for republic status for Kosovo within SFRY, yet they quickly shifted towards the struggle for full independence following similar developments in Slovenia and Croatia. All parties supported the establishment of a democratic system with free elections and the protection of minorities’ rights. In the ‘shadow’ elections in 1990 (that were considered illegal by the government in power in Kosovo) the party led by Ibrahim Rugova, of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) won the absolute majority of the votes. The government that was established operated mainly from abroad, soon to be known as the government in exile. Rugova’s government was limited to some level of control and organization of the education and health care sector, funded on a voluntarily basis through a symbolic tax collected in Kosovo diasporas. (9)
It was before the outbreak of the Yugoslav state crisis that full Serbian control over the province of Kosovo was re-established. The takeover of institutions provided the Kosovo Albanians with a rationale for the creation of their own parallel state, resulting in the proclamation of Kosovo first as a republic within Yugoslavia, in 1990, and then as independent state, in 1991. While observing and getting involved in other parts of the Yugoslav federation, the Europeans also became aware of the problematic situation in Kosovo. For example, in summer 1992, one of the declarations on the deteriorating situation across the Yugoslav federation addressed Serbia’s southern province, as well: The Community and its Member States noted that the situation in Kosovo is potentially dangerous and urge all parties to show the necessary restraint and sense of responsibility. They urge the authorities in Belgrade to refrain from further repression and engage in serious dialogue with representatives of Kosovo. Failure to do so would impede their prospect for the restoration of normal relations with the international community. The Community and its Member States recall that frontiers can only be changed by peaceful means and remind the inhabitants of Kosovo that their legitimate quest for autonomy should be dealt with in the framework of the EC Peace Conference. (EPC 1992)