"Kosovo is about secession, not self-determination"

Published on May 19, 2009, B92

Category: Growing International Opposition to Imposed Solution

BELGRADE -- The Kosovo issue is not a case of self-determination but of secession, says Algerian Ambassador to Belgrade Abdelkader Mesdoua.

Algeria, the diplomat told FoNet news agency in Belgrade on Sunday, will not recognize Kosovo.

Mesdoua repeated that his country supports Serbia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

"The Algerian government's position on the issue of Kosovo is clear. We consider this to be a problem of partition, secession, not of self-determination."

Algeria "said from the very beginning" it would not recognize the Kosovo Albanian unilateral declaration, "which was confirmed during Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic's visit".

"We will not recognize Kosovo as independent and we will remain firmly on this position, unless there is a development that would have Serbia change its stance, but that would be a different question that we would consider then," Mesdoua said.

Taking into account the present situation, Algeria will not recognize Kosovo and will continue to support Serbia's territorial integrity and sovereignty, the ambassador reiterated.

He also confirmed that Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had accepted an invitation to visit Serbia, and that the trip can be expected in late 2009, or early 2010.

Also by the end of this year, a mixed cooperation committee is due to meet, when Algerian foreign affairs and defense ministers are expected in Belgrade.

"We have very close military cooperation and I am certain that relations will improve in this sector in the future as well," said Mesdoua, and reminded that a number of Algerian army officers are currently attending Serbia's Military Academy.

The ambassador said that the peoples of Algeria and Serbia are very close, that there are many friends of his country here, and that he feels at home in Belgrade.

He divided the history of relations between the two countries in two periods – from Algeria's independence until the 1990s, and after 2000.

"We had very close ties with former Yugoslavia, because both countries were very active in the Non-Aligned Movement, but we had a break of relations, that was not political, because of a period when both Serbia and Algeria faced problems. Contacts always existed, although they were not as close as before."

Mesdoua reminded that Yugoslavia was the first European country to recognize Algeria's independence, and said that after 2000 the ties with Serbia have been improving and becoming closer.

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