Kosovo's proclamation of independence triggers more mixed responses

Published on February 18, 2008, Xinhua

Category: Growing International Opposition to Imposed Solution

BEIJING, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- The international community on Monday has continued to respond with mixed feelings to Kosovo's official declaration of independence.

Kosovo's parliament on Sunday voted to adopt a declaration of the province's independence from Serbia.

On Monday, U.S. President George W. Bush, who is on a visit to Tanzania, recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence, saying "The Kosovars are now independent."

"It's something that I've advocated along with my government," he said.

Dimitrij Rupel, Foreign Minister of Slovenia, which holds the rotating European Union (EU) presidency, said recognition for Kosovo's independence is not a matter for the EU as a whole, but is up to individual EU member states.

Rupel expressed the above view upon his arrival in Brussels for a EU foreign ministers' meeting on Monday, which would try to facilitate a coordinated stance on the Kosovo issue.

Rupel said he expected heated discussion at the meeting as there is still a division among EU states on whether to recognize Kosovo's independence.

Media reports said Britain, France, Germany and Italy are expected to recognize Kosovo's independence in a short time.

But Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain oppose recognizing Kosovo's move, at least in the short term, for fear that it would become a dangerous precedent for other separatist movements.

Still, other countries like Malta and Portugal proposed that Kosovo's future be decided at the UN Security Council.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Spain is not to recognize Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia, because the move does not respect international law.

He said in Brussels that his country would propose at the EU foreign ministers' meeting a text that would "maintain the position of Spain while guaranteeing as much as possible the unityof the European Union."

Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov said his country's position on Kosovo's independence will mainly depend on how the Kosovo leadership fulfills the Ahtisaari plan, which Bulgaria has been supporting.

Parvanov also said other factors affecting Bulgaria's stance would be institution-building in Kosovo, its respects for human rights and for the rights of minorities including Serbs.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said his country is considering recognizing Kosovo as an independent state.

He said the Japanese government is "moving toward recognizing" Kosovo since the progress seen was in line with Japan's criteria for recognizing states.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd expressed his support for the independence of Kosovo.

Rudd told ABC Radio that the Australian government believes an independent Kosovo will be a good thing and it will offer official diplomatic recognition at the earliest opportunity.

Singaporean Foreign Ministry said the country is still studying Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement that it is a "controversial move that has many complex ramifications around the world."

Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said her country will not recognize the independence of Kosovo.

She said it never is the New Zealand government's position to offer diplomatic recognition in such circumstances.

Bangladesh said it is very closely following the current development in Kosovo with like-minded countries.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said "decisions on matters such as this are always taken on the basis of perceived national self interest."

Indonesia deplores the failed negotiations at the UN Security Council as Kosovo unilaterally declared independence, saying it cannot immediately decide whether to recognize its independence or not.

"With Kosovo unilaterally declaring independence, we deplore failure in the dialogue," Indonesian ambassador to the UN Marty Natalegawa said.

Hazar Ibrahim, director of the news bureau of Azerbaijan's foreign ministry, said Azerbaijan does not accept Kosovo's independence.

It is illegal and beyond international laws for Kosovo to unilaterally announce its independence, Ibrahim told a press conference.

A Kazakh foreign ministry spokesperson said Kazakhstan opposes Kosovo's unilateral proclamation of independence.

Kazakhstan insists the Kosovo issue should be solved peacefully in accordance with UN principles on national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the spokesperson said.

South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said her government is still considering whether to recognize Kosovo as an independent country.

"Our government has to discuss it and see what the implications are of all this," she said.

The Ugandan government is carefully studying Kosovo's declaration of independence before it makes a decision to recognize it as a state or not, a senior official said.

Kosovo was a southern autonomous province within Serbia before the breakup of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Albanian-dominated region was plunged into ethnic conflicts in the1990s.

Kosovo has been under UN administration since mid-1999, after NATO air strikes drove Serbian forces out of the province.

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