A majority of Romanian MEPs have voted a resolution calling on the EU countries which have not yet recognised Kosovo to do so. A surprising move, given that Romania is one of the five EU members which do not recognise the independence of the former Serbian province.
Seventeen out of the 33 Romanian MEPs have voted a Resolution on the European Integration Process of Kosovo, which contains a text (point 1), calling on the remaining five EU countries who have not yet recognised Kosovo to do so.
The Resolution was passed on 29 March with 375 votes in favour, 97 against, and 76 abstentions.
EU to examine 'feasibility' of closer ties with Kosovo
Romania, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Slovakia have not recognised Kosovo so far (see background), as they do not want to set a precedent for separatists. Romania is home to an ethnic Hungarian community in 'Székely Land', or ?inutul Secuiesc, that is pushing for a higher level of autonomy or territorial separation.
The resolution also welcomes plans by the European Commission to launch a feasibility study for the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Kosovo and the Union.
EU leaders decided to open the door for the "feasibility study" as a counterbalance for the recent agreement to give Serbia the status of EU candidate country.
A 'technical error'
It remains unclear if all 17 Romanian MEPs who voted in favour of the resolution support Kosovo's independence, and it is possible that some did not notice the part of the text which referred to it.
MEP Elena B?sescu (European People's Party), a former model who is the daughter of Romanian President Traian B?sescu, said a "technical error" was to blame. Her voting device in which MEPs insert their cards had been blocked, she explained.
"It is impossible that me in particular would vote by mistake on Kosovo," she said.
Elena B?sescu made available to the press the emails she sent to the Parliament's technical services, in which she asked that the mistake be corrected.
Her demand has been taken note of, but the voting result remained unchanged, she was told.
It is very difficult to imagine that the remaining 16 Romanian MEPs would have made the same technical error as Elena B?sescu, the daily Gândul writes, cited by EurActiv Romania.
Kosovo seceded from Serbia on 17 February 2008, nine years after the end of the war between Belgrade's security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas. In the following years, Kosovo became an international protectorate patrolled by NATO peacekeepers.
After Kosovo declared independence, the republic established a new constitution, army, national anthem, flag, passports, identity cards and an intelligence agency.
Some 90% of the population is ethnic Albanian. However, Serb-populated northern Mitrovica remains largely outside the control of Pristina.
Most EU countries - except Spain, Greece, Romania, Cyprus and Slovakia - have recognised the independence of Kosovo.
- European Parliament:European Parliament resolution of 29 March 2012 on the European Integration Process of Kosovo [FR]
- European Parliament:MEPs welcome progress of Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro towards joining the EU [FR]