Support for EU mainstream positions

The Irish government was supportive of the Commission's broad conclusions. In relation to Turkey specifically, it recognized that the accession negotiations with Turkey were open-ended and that there was no guarantee of eventual Turkish accession. It agreed with other member States who did not favour a full-scale debate on enlargement strategy at the December European Council.
 
There was very little media coverage of the annual strategy document on EU enlargement. The focus of the scant media coverage was centred on the prospect for future EU enlargement before 2010. It was reported in The Irish Times that Croatia is the only country likely to join the EU within that timeframe.
 
While the Irish government has not yet decided how it will react to a possible Kosovar declaration of independence, it is generally expected that it will join most other EU member States in recognizing an independent Kosovo.
 
The Irish government position broadly agrees with the official EU communication regarding the status of Kosovo or the future of EU-Serbia relations. They do, however, place a strong emphasis on the importance of a unified European Union approach. In the context of the EU/Serbia negotiations, Ireland attaches importance to Serbia demonstrating "full cooperation" with the ICTY.
 
Issues of interest
 
One issue of special interest to Ireland regarding Kosovo is the appointment of Brigadier General Gerry Hegarty as Commander, Multi National Task Force Centre, KFOR, a multinational taskforce that is linked to Nato's Partnership for Peace mission in central Kosovo. He will be the first Irish Army officer to command a multinational taskforce in the Balkans.
 
Minister of State for Defence Tom Kitt, T.D., paid an official state visit to Kosovo in September 2007 where he met local leaders, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Kosovo and head of UNMIK Joachim Rücker, as well as Irish troops and humanitarian projects which they support in the province. Following the meeting, he commented:

"I think the Ahtisaari plan is obviously the one that we all strongly support. I made the point to Mr Rücker that we in Ireland have ourselves moved from a violent situation to peaceful resolution in Northern Ireland. That happened by a pretty lengthy process so the process is very important. There is a process of dialogue here between Belgrade and Pristina, it is important we give this a chance."
 
This view was echoed by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, during his visit to the region in early November 2007 when he advocated the two sides find a compromise solution for Kosovo through dialogue, and that "this dialogue should not be constrained by deadlines."
 
Regarding Serbia’s relations with the EU, Minister Ahern took the opportunity to reiterate that Ireland fully supports the Serbian strategic goal of EU membership.