"Positive ICJ ruling will deter recognition"

Published on August 21, 2008, American Council for Kosovo

Category: News from the American Council for Kosovo

BELGRADE -- If the ICJ rules Kosovo declared independence illegally it will deter other states from recognition, says an expert.

Such a decision could also encourage other states to reconsider their decision, says Jim Jatras, director of the Squire Sanders agency, which represents Serbian interests in the U.S.

In an interview with daily Novosti, Jatras says that withdrawals of recognition, even by only one or two countries, would be very significant, depending on which countries are concerned.

“Western countries are exerting pressure on Serbia to reduce diplomatic efforts ahead of the vote in the General Assembly, where the initiative to consult the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the legality of Kosovo’s independence declaration will be considered, as these ’friends’ of Serbia know fine well that their position is illegal, and that they will most probably lose that vote,“ says Jatras.

At the same time, he says that even if the ICJ ruling is positive, it will be very difficult to renew talks on Kosovo’s status--something which has been mooted in Belgrade recently--as the long-term aim of Serbian policy.

“In spite of the U.S.’s failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now in Georgia, U.S. policy creators clearly do not like to admit that they are ever in the wrong. Renewing talks would, de facto, mean admitting a U.S. mistake,“ says Jatras.

“However, if a consequence of the Hague court’s verdict was a full cessation of the Kosovo recognition process, as could very easily happen, the impression in the global community would be that Kosovo was not a state and that some other solution had to be found,“ he says, and that in that event, talks would resume, although not necessarily in the first couple of years.

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