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The European Union’s practice of state recognition: Between norms and interests

  • Edward Newman (a1) and Gëzim Visoka (a2)
Abstract

This article explores the European Union’s (EU) practices of international state recognition in a transitional international order. It illustrates the difficulties that the EU has encountered in attempting to reach a collective position on sensitive cases of recognition – through a complex balance of internal and external considerations – at a time when the norms regarding recognition are increasingly under challenge. Whether the organisation takes a collective European position on recognition or allows its members to adopt individual national positions, acute inconsistencies and tensions have been exposed, with implications for the EU’s standing in the world. Through this, the article identifies a key tension between the EU’s normative commitments and its geopolitical interests. In conclusion, the article argues that while a uniform EU policy on recognition may not be feasible and case-by-case pragmatism will likely continue, a more coherent approach and greater understanding of the impact of the EU’s position on recognition are necessary. The article draws upon interview material and extensive analysis of official EU documentation in order to provide new insights into this complex challenge. By exploring the intricacies of recognition politics, the article also makes an empirical contribution to understanding the practice of international relations in this area.

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Corresponding author
*Correspondence to: Edward Newman, Social Sciences Building, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK. Author’s email: E.Newman@leeds.ac.uk
**Correspondence to: Gëzim Visoka, Dublin City University, Glasnevin Campus, Collins Avenue, Dublin, D09 Y074, Ireland. Author’s email: gezim.visoka@dcu.ie
References
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36 ‘Declaration on the “Guidelines on the Recognition of New States in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union”’ and ‘Declaration on Yugoslavia’, Extraordinary European Political Committee Ministerial meeting, Press Release No. 128/91 and 129/91, Brussels (16 December 1991).

37 Caplan, Europe and the Recognition of New States in Yugoslavia, p. 2.

38 Grant, The Recognition of States, p. 171.

39 See Rich, Roland, ‘Recognition of states: the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union’, European Journal of International Law, 4:1 (1993), pp. 3665 .

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42 Caplan, Europe and the Recognition of New States in Yugoslavia, p. 7.

43 Ibid., p. 68.

44 Rich, ‘Recognition of states’.

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50 European Union, Doc. No. 12679/1/11 REV 1, ‘Declaration by the EU and its Member States on the Republic of South Sudan Independence’ (9 July 2011), available at: {http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/foraff/123591.pdf} accessed 13 December 2016.

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52 See, for example, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ‘Government Recognises the Independence of South Sudan’, Dublin (9 July 2011), available at: {https://www.dfa.ie/news-and-media/press-releases/press-release-archive/2011/july/recognition-of-independence-of-south-sudan/} accessed 8 August 2017.

53 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, ‘No: 162, 9 July 2011, Press Release Regarding the Recognition of the Independence of the Republic of South Sudan’, available at: {www.mfa.gov.tr/no_-162_-9-july-2011_-press-release-regarding-the-recognition-of-the-independence-of-the-republic-of-south-sudan.en.mfa}.

54 Press Statement of the 285th Meeting of the Peace and Security Council Peace and Security Council 285th Meeting (13 July 2011), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, available at: {https://au.int/sites/default/files/pressreleases/24422-pr-285th_final_press_statement_-_sudan_en.pdf}; Embassy of the Republican of Indonesia in South Sudan, ‘Indonesia Recognizes the Independence of South Sudan’ (11 July 2011), available at: {https://www.kemlu.go.id/khartoum/en/berita-agenda/berita-perwakilan/Pages/Indonesia-Recognizes-the-Independence-of-South-Sudan.aspx}. The EU’s statement of collective recognition is at: {www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/123591.pdf}.

55 Bridget Coggins, Power Politics and State Formation in the Twentieth Century: The Dynamics of Recognition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

56 Raic, Statehood and the Law of Self-Determination.

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58 Interview with an EEAS official, Brussels, 16 March 2016.

59 European Parliament, Parliamentary Question No. E-5542/2007 (19 December 2007), available at: {http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2007-5542&language=EN} accessed 20 January 2017.

60 European Commission, Declaration by the Presidency on Behalf of the European Union on Forthcoming ‘Presidential Elections’ in Nagorno Karabakh, 11463/02 (Presse 233), Brussels (2 August 2002), available at: {http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_PESC-02-105_en.htm} accessed 25 July 2017.

61 Council of the European Union, ‘Joint Press Release Following the First Association Council Meeting between the European Union and the Republic of Moldova’, press release, 136/15 (16 March 2015), available at: {http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2015/03/16-first-association-council-meeting-between-european-union-republic-moldova/} accessed 25 July 2017.

62 Caspersen, Nina, Unrecognised States: The Struggle for Sovereignty in the Modern International System (Cambridge: Polity, 2012).

63 European Parliament, Parliamentary Question No. E-004627/2012 (3 July 2012), available at: {http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2012-004627&language=EN} accessed 20 January 2017.

64 The Federal Republic of Somalia, ‘The Somali Compact’ (16 September 2013), p. 20, available at: {https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/20130916_the_somali_compact.pdf} accessed 20 January 2017.

65 European Parliament, Parliamentary Question No. E-006540/2014 (24 October 2014), available at: {http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2014-006540&language=EN} accessed 20 January 2017.

66 Benabdullah, Karima, ‘The position of the European Union on the Western Sahara conflict’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 17:3 (2009), pp. 417435 .

67 European Parliament, Parliamentary Question No. E-010478/2014 (2 March 2015), available at: {http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2014-010478&language=EN} accessed 20 January 2017.

68 Interview with an EEAS official, Brussels, 16 March 2016.

69 European Parliament, Parliamentary Question No. E-4982/2008 (17 November 2008), available at: {http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2008-4982&language=EN} accessed 20 January 2017.

70 Council of the European Union, Presidency Conclusions, Doc No. 12594/2/08 REV 2 (6 October 2008), p. 2, available at: {http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/102545.pdf} accessed 20 January 2017.

72 European Union, ‘EU Demarches for the Non-Recognition of the Breakaway Regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia’, Brussels, 15 June 2011.

73 Ibid.

74 Ibid.

75 Cooley, Alexander and Mitchell, Lincoln A., ‘Engagement without recognition: a new strategy toward Abkhazia and Eurasia’s unrecognized states’, Washington Quarterly, 33:4 (2010), pp. 5973 .

76 Interview with an EEAS official, Brussels, 15 March 2016.

77 Government of Office of Sweden, ‘Two Years after the Illegal Annexation of Crimea’ (18 March 2016), available at: {http://www.government.se/opinion-pieces/2016/03/two-years-after-the-illegal-annexation-of-crimea/} accessed 28 November 2016.

78 UN General Assembly, UN. Doc. A/RES/68/262, Resolution on Territorial Integrity of Ukraine, 1 April 2014.

79 EEAS, ‘The EU Non-recognition Policy for Crimea and Sevastopol’, Fact Sheet, Brussels (March 2016), available at: {http://collections.internetmemory.org/haeu/content/20160313172652/http://eeas.europa.eu/top_stories/pdf/the-eu-non-recognition-policy-for-crimea-and-sevastopol-fact-sheet.pdf} accessed 20 November 2016.

80 European Commission, Joint Staff Working Document, Information Note to EU Business Operating and/or Investing in Crimea/Sevastopol, SWD(2014) 300 final/2, Brussels (11 August 2014), p. 4.

81 Interview with a diplomat from a EU Member State, Brussels, 16 May 2017.

82 Interview with a European Commission official, Brussels, 27 March 2017.

83 Newman, Edward and Visoka, Gëzim, ‘The foreign policy of state recognition: Kosovo’s diplomatic strategy to join international society’, Foreign Policy Analysis (2016), available at doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fpa/orw042.

84 Council of the European Union, Press Release 2,851st Council Meeting, General Affairs and External Relations, Doc. no. 6496/08 (Presse 41), 18 February 2008, p. 7.

85 Ibid.

86 Weller, Marc, Contested Statehood: Kosovo’s Struggle for Independence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

87 Interview with a European Commission official, Brussels, 27 March 2017.

88 Visoka, Gëzim, Acting Like a State: Kosovo and the Everyday Making of Statehood (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018).

89 Chen, Ti-Chiang, The International Law of Recognition (New York: F. A. Praeger, 1951), p. 191 .

90 European Parliament, Parliamentary Question No. E-001445/2016 (15 June 2016), available at: {http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2016-001445&language=EN} accessed 17 January 2017.

91 Ker-Lindsay, James and Armakolas, Ioannis (eds), Lack of Engagement? Surveying the Spectrum of EU Member State Policies Towards Kosovo (Pristina: Kosovo Foundation for Open Society, 2017).

92 European Parliament, Resolution on Kosovo and the Role of the EU, Doc. No. P6_TA(2009)0052, 5 February 2009.

93 See Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Kosovo, Brussels (2 October 2015), available at: {http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-10728-2015-REV-1/en/pdf} accessed 20 January 2017.

94 Interview with a European Commission official, Brussels, 27 March 2017.

95 Statement by HRVP Mogherini on Recognition of Palestine Statehood at the EP Plenary, available at: {https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4bTL_1TwvU&list=PLsAbGOcWnbyo7brkcBFBkVuJ24Dvj8oLE} accessed 21 January 2017.

96 Council of the European Union, ‘Council Conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process’, Press Release No. 610/15 (20 July 2015), available at: {http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2015/07/20-fac-mepp-conclusions/} accessed 20 January 2017.

97 Bouris, Dimitris, The European Union and Occupied Palestinian Territories: State-Building without a State (Abingdon: Routledge, 2014), p. 50 .

98 European Union, ‘Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on the Middle East Peace Process’, Doc No. 16079/2/12 REV 2 (29 November 2012), p. 1, available at: {http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/cfsp/133902.pdf} accessed 22 January 2017.

99 Oliveira Martins, Bruno, ‘“A sense of urgency”: the EU, EU member states and the recognition of the Palestinian State’, Mediterranean Politics, 20:2 (2015), p. 28 .

100 International Court of Justice, ‘Advisory Opinion on Western Sahara’ (16 October 1975), available at: {http://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/61/6197.pdf} and ‘Advisory Opinion on Kosovo’ (22 July 2010), available at: {http://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/141/141-20100722-ADV-01-00-EN.pdf} accessed 26 July 2017.

101 See, for example, Coggins, Power Politics and State Formation in the Twentieth Century.

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