Several EU Member States are considering whether to participate in the Western Balkans Summit in May in Sofia, as they are against Kosovo’s participation (one of the potential candidate countries for EU membership). Romania, Cyprus, Spain and Serbia are close to taking the decision not to attend the important international forum.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has already given a sign at the European leaders’ meeting last month that he might not be present because Madrid does not recognize Kosovo. In March, Rajoy said that he will participate in the informal dinner of the EU MS on 16 May, a day ahead of the Summit in Sofia, but for the next day he pointed that “we have an important problem – some people talk about enlargement to countries that are not yet recognized, and that is causing concerns”.

Other EU countries that do not recognize Kosovo are Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania. The reason is their internal problems with regions that want autonomy. The issue is particularly sensitive after the referendum on the independence of Catalonia.

These countries are considering diplomatic ways to show their reservations at the Western Balkans Summit, which will take place on 17 May. One option is for their officials to participate only in the working dinner on the day before the meeting and another Member State to represent them on the next day.

Serbia, which is a candidate country for EU membership, is also considering its options. On Tuesday, Serbian President Alexander Vucic said Belgrade awaits the outcome of talks between representatives of Serbia and Kosovo next week before taking a final decision.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said on Monday that the possible presence of Kosovo representatives in Sofia is “politically absurd”. Serbia may participate, if Pristina set up the association of Serb municipalities in Kosovo, in relation to an earlier agreement with EU assistance, completes Brnabić. However, according to some analysts, Belgrade will not miss the forum, as it is a chance for Serbia to come out of the known international isolation in which it is at present.

Kosovo declared independence in February 2008. Up to today, over 100 countries in the world, including Bulgaria, acknowledged the independence of the former Serbian province. These include most EU countries, without Spain, Romania and Cyprus. The integration of the Western Balkans into the EU is the most important priority of the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of EU and a similar boycott would be a challenge for the skills of Bulgarian diplomacy.