Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy has decided not participate in the EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia, due to his country's position on Kosovo. Spain is one of the five EU member countries which have not recognised Kosovo’s independence.
"It was clear from the beginning that Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy does not want to attend due to Spain's position on Kosovo's status," Belgrade based news agency Tanjug reported on Tuesday, citing a senior EU official. However Spain will be represented at the lower level, it has been announced in Brussels.
Spokesperson for the Bulgarian EU presidency Genoveva Chervenkova said today that "participation of Kosovo in the summit will be in line with the demands of the protocol." Radio Free Europe is reporting that Chervenkova said Rajoy would "arrive in Bulgaria on Tuesday." The summit it to be held on Thursday, May 17, and according to previous reports, Rajoy did not rule out attending an informal dinner a day earlier, on Wednesday.
In late March, Rajoy told his Bulgarian counterpart, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency and will host the summit, that he would "have problems with the Balkan summit in Sofia," and "threatened not to come because of Kosovo." In January, Spain sent a letter in the form of a non-pepper ahead of the adoption of EU's enlargement strategy for the Western Balkans, to block the mention of Kosovo in that context, but also of use of the term "Balkan Six" - because it treats Kosovo as a state.