The tale could begin, “During the short reign of the Ritalin King cameth the downturn. . . .” During his six-month EU presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy laced into any number of challenges with a typically hyperactive gusto and self-importance. The spirit of the Sun King may have been whispering in Sarko’s ear, as he put his own stamp on Louis XIV’s famous motto…”L’Europe, c’est moi.” When time came to pass the EU crown to Prague, the Frenchman threatened to boycott the handover, after unsuccessfully pushing for self-serving alternatives to existing EU mechanisms.
DUBLIN — EU foreign ministers faced mounting confusion at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday in an attempt to salvage a political union of the 27-nation bloc after a veto by Irish voters. Some are urging other EU countries to press ahead with ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, even without Ireland’s approval, while others are demanding that the pact be scrapped altogether. “The rules are absolutely clear: If all 27 countries do not pass the Lisbon Treaty it cannot pass into law,” said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. French European Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Jouyet told French radio that there was “no other solution” than for Ireland to hold a second popular referendum, akin to the scenario in which Ireland rejected an EU treaty in 2001 before passing it during a second attempt a year later.
DUBLIN — The party once led by the current European Union ambassador to Washington is claiming that the U.S. is actively opposing European integration, posing a potential embarrassment as Prime Minister Bertie Ahern prepares to address a joint session of Congress today. Lucinda Creighton, a spokeswoman for Ireland’s largest opposition party, Fine Gael, said in a web posting that “U.S. foreign policy has traditionally been opposed to EU integration.” “The U.S. supports the EU as an economic bloc but nothing more. The idea of a politically strong EU, acting as a check or counterbalance on the U.S. does not sit well with our trans-Atlantic friends,” said Creighton, a member of Ireland’s parliament.
TIRANA — “It has been a long time coming, but Albania is ready to rejoin the West. In truth and in spirit, it never left,” Tirana’s Catholic Archbishop Rrok Krol Mirdita said in an interview. Muslims are the majority, but Albania is a country split four ways confessionally — between Sunni Muslims, Sufi Muslim Bektashis, Catholics and Greek Orthodox. There’s two ways tribal split as well, with northern Ghegs and southern Tosks making up most of the country’s roughly 3 million population. But all Albanians now seem to be pulling one way politically after the recent declaration of independence by Kosovo, where the majority of the population is Albanian. A Kosovar delegation visited recently to discuss forming a common market between the two states. Despite Kosovo’s supervised independence precluding unification with Albania, the latter”s Minister for Economy and Energy, Genc Ruli, stated that a free Kosovo “paved the way for a common market […] and coordination of economic policies with Albania.”
MITROVICA — Supporters of Kosovar independence say Pristina’s is a standalone case, legitimate under international law. ‘‘Kosovo is not like anywhere else, and we deserve our independence,” Pristina pharmacy student Laura told The Sunday Business Post. At a Serb demonstration in Mitrovica last Wednesday, Mario Jovanovic, from Vranje in southern Serbia, said: ‘‘For us, Kosovo is holy land.” He said hundreds of Serbs had crossed into Kosovo’s majority-Serb municipalities, after mobs torched and bulldozed two border posts earlier that day. Even if Serb regular forces do not attempt to retake Kosovo, most experts expect partition of the new state. Belgrade controls the region north of Mitrovica, and Daniel Serwer, Balkan expert at the United States Institute for Peace, told this newspaper that ‘‘only with great difficulty’’ would Nato and the EU alter this status quo.
PRISTINA – The United States yesterday coupled its formal recognition of newly independent Kosovo with an appeal for the European Union and the World Bank to help turn the impoverished territory into a prosperous Muslim-majority state. With unemployment at nearly 50 percent, an average monthly salary of about $220 and growing corruption, Europe’s youngest country has raised security concerns throughout the continent. Still, it was clear after an all-night party celebrating Kosovo’s declaration of independence on Sunday that most of the population — more than 90 percent Muslim — is looking west to America rather than east to Mecca. After a night of fireworks, heavy drinking and dancing in the streets to Tupac Shakur’s rap hit “California Love,” residents of the Kosovar capital, Pristina, resumed their celebration yesterday, waving U.S. and Kosovar flags at the news that their new nation had been formally recognized by the United States.