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An Italian appointed as EU special envoy to Kosovo? (Shift)

(credit: NATO)

(BRUSSELS2) The Italian Fernando Gentilini could be appointed as EU special envoy – on an interim basis (three months) – to Kosovo, according to a European source. Pieter Fieth's mandate ends at the end of April. And there would be no question of renewing it. The Dutchman, however, would remain at the head of the International Civil Office (ICO) of the United Nations. Which would spell the end of the EU/International double hat before... possibly opening a second one. A call for applications was, in fact, made to fill the position of head of the EU liaison office in Pristina which is a delegation without saying so (5 EU states still do not recognize Kosovo, it is impossible to properly establish an EU delegation/embassy).

Gentilini is not unknown in Kosovo, a region he surveyed in the 2000s and he seems to remain very involved on the ground, notably in the latest discussions between Belgrade and Pristina (conducted under the aegis of the Union European Union by Robert Cooper, advisor to the High Representative, Cathy Ashton). Born in Subiaco (Rome) in March 1962, graduated in law from the University of Rome, Fernando Gentilini embarked on a diplomatic career in 1990, after a (short) military service as an artillery lieutenant (in 1987). After a stint in the central service in Rome in the human resources department, he worked in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia, from 1992), at the permanent representation to the EU in Brussels (first secretary from the end of 1996) and joined the Council's EU Policy Planning and Early Warning Unit from the outset, in December 1999. A career closely linked to the Balkans began. He became director of the Balkans department at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in December 2002. In March 2004, he was appointed personal representative of Javier Solana in Kosovo. In October 2004, he was seriously injured in a road accident near Mitrovica and had to be evacuated. He will then be assigned to the Council's Political Unit. Deputy diplomatic advisor to Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi (from August 2006 to 2008), he was appointed in July 2008 to another high-risk position, as High Civilian Representative of NATO in Afghanistan (until January 2010).

NB: We can note that Fernando Gentilini will meet another EU special envoy on the other side of the border, his compatriot Ettore Sequi who officiates at the EU embassy in Tirana (Albania), as well as Miroslav Lajcak who now heads the Balkans department at the Diplomatic Service and was in the 2000s ambassador of his country, Slovakia, to Serbia and Albania (therefore in charge of Kosovo).

(Updated May 6) The appointment of F. Gentilini was adopted in the form of a decision by written procedure by the Council of the EU on May 6. This discussion has dragged on a bit for two reasons. Some countries (notably the United Kingdom) still had some reluctance or, at least, questions about decoupling the two positions of EU special envoy and representative of the international community – which remains occupied by Pieter Feith. Other countries (Cyprus, Slovakia, etc.) which did not recognize Kosovo did not want to reopen the debate on the status of the former Serbian province and find themselves approving a decision, endorsing de facto the independence of Kosovo. Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the EU, greeted this appointment with a few words of welcome: “ Fernando Gentilini has an in-depth knowledge of the Western Balkans and of Kosovo in particular, and I look forward to working very closely with him. In his temporary position, he will prepare for a strengthened and long-term EU presence in Kosovo, in line with the Lisbon Treaty and the European perspective of the whole region »

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).