The government's optimistic expectations for a positive EU assessment are met by analysts' caution the study will also highlight Kosovo's significant shortcomings.
By Safet Kabashaj for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 09/10/12
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci hopes a feasibility study will put Kosovo a step closer to EU integration. [Reuters]
Hopes are high in Kosovo the European Commission (EC) will adopt a positive feasibility study on Wednesday (October 10th), paving the way for the country to begin negotiations with the EU for a Stabilisation and Association Agreement. But some caution the study will also include Kosovo's significant shortcomings in numerous areas.
"The study is crucial for the EU integration process as it marks the first formal step on our path to the Union and enables Kosovo to get into contractual relations with it," Vlora Citaku, minister for European integration, told SETimes.
Citaku said expectations are the study will note Kosovo is moving forward. "There is a real progress in all areas dealing with political and economical criteria, European standards and the judiciary," she said.
Many also expect, however, the EC will include in the study earlier numerous criticisms.
"Corruption, organised crime, a politicised judiciary, lack of judicial reform as well as rule of law will be repeated in the feasibility study and obviously with quite a critical tone," Fatmir Curri, programme director for European integration at the Civil Society Foundation, said.
Kosovo has achieved some progress, but much more remains to be done, according to Muhamer Pajaziti, professor of the University College Institute for Political and European Studies.
"What should take place is an effective fight against corruption and organised crime and also judicial, administrative and election reforms," Pajaziti told SETimes.
"The officials' enthusiasm and optimism notwithstanding, Kosovo is far from respecting and implementing EU standards and principles which determine a democratic and institutional stability," he said.
Kosovo faces unique challenges relative to regional countries given that five EU member states still do not recognise it.
Citaku said he is convinced that the five will show a realistic and pragmatic approach in line with the 22 other EU countries that support the process of Kosovo's EU integration.
"Kosovo already has a modus vivendi option to overcome particular formal obstacles on how it is presented. Based on this I do not believe that an essential obstacle will be present to block the entire process," Citaku said.
But Curri said he is sceptical the five countries will change their position.
"Even with a positive outcome from the EC, it will be difficult for Kosovo to win a position to sign a contractual agreement (with the EU) as long as there are divisions inside the block in recognising Kosovo as a state," Curri said.
By contrast, Pajaziti argued he does not expect the five countries to play a negative role.
"The serious obstacles will appear in the final stage, when Kosovo approaches EU membership," Pajaziti said.