This week will be show again one significant step in international politics and especially in Western Balkans. 1st at its plenary session called for 8th October, the 192-member UN General Assembly is to debate Serbia’s draft resolution calling for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence. 2nd EU tries again find some common position about Kosovo case and the forecast is that EU member-states will probably abstain from the vote at the UN. 3rd Portugal, Macedonia (FYR) and Montenegro are under huge pressure to recognize Kosovo independence.
UDI and ICJ in UN
Serbia has filed a draft resolution in which it asks from the UN General Assembly to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on the legality of the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) of Kosovo. Belgrade has proclaimed two objectives with this initiative. The first, immediate goal is to have the ICJ provide its stand on the UDI and to stop the recognition of Pristina’s act by UN members. The second, mid-term objective is to have Belgrade and Pristina go back to the negotiating table on the status question.
Last week a trial vote revealed 120 of the 192 members gave their backing to Serbia’s request to refer the matter to the ICJ, reported the German daily Handelsblatt.
Why they say “no” to Kosovo’s secession
Nearly 50 countries has recognized Kosovo but over 140 not. Some of them have also stated that so far they will not make recognition at least before some conditions – like e.g. independence after Belgrade/Pristina deal – are reached. Below one may look reasons why some countries are not pro-UDI of Kosovo (Source: Kosovo Compromise newsletter 04 Aug.2008):
- Algeria – “There are international laws and they must be respected.” Mourad Medelci, Foreign Minister
- Angola – “We express solidarity with Serbia in regard to the preservation of the sovereignty and integrity of the country, which includes Kosovo.” Eduardo Dos Santos, President
- Argentina – “If we were to recognize Kosovo, which has declared its independence unilaterally, without an agreement with Serbia, we would set a dangerous precedent that would seriously threaten our chances of a political settlement in the case of the Falkland Islands.” Jorge Taiana, Foreign Minister
- Azerbaijan – “We view this illegal act as being in contradiction with international law. Azerbaijan retreated its troops from Kfor in reaction, and opposed support for Kosovo’s secession at the OIC summit.” Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan
- Brazil – “The Brazilian government will recognize the independence of Kosovo only if Serbia does. A peaceful solution must be sought through dialogue and negotiations, under the auspices of the UN and the legal framework of the UN Security Council resolution 1244.” Celso Amorim, Foreign Minister
- China – “The unilateral move taken by Kosovo will lead to a series of consequences. China is deeply worried about its severe and negative impact on peace and stability of the Balkan region… and calls to continue negotiations for a proper resolution within the framework of the international law.” Chinese Foreign Ministry
- Cyprus – “Cyprus will never recognize a unilateral declaration of independence outside the UN framework, and in particular by side-stepping the Security Council.” Foreign Ministry Statement
- Georgia – “Tbilisi will not recognize Kosovo’s independence. I think everyone in Georgia, regardless of political orientation, is unanimous on this.” Davit Bakradze, Foreign Minister
- Greece – “Greece is in favor of achieving consensual and mutually-acceptable solutions based on respect of international law.” Yannis Valinakis, Dep. Foreign Minister
- India – “It has been India’s consistent position that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be fully respected by all states.” Indian Foreign Ministry
- Indonesia – “Indonesia does not see Kosovo as a religious, but as an ethnic and political problem as well as a question of respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity of a UN member.” Hassan Wirajuda, Foreign Minister
- Iran – “After considering the region’s issues and conditions, Iran decided not to recognize the independence of Kosovo.” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President
- Israel – “Israel will not recognize Kosovo’s independence, in part because of the possibility of Palestinians using recognition of Kosovo to justify their own unilateral declaration of independence.” Israeli Foreign Ministry
- Kazakhstan – “The Kosovo issue should be solved peacefully in accordance with UN principles on national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Kazakh Foreign Ministry
- Libya – “Libya strongly supports the position of Serbia regarding Kosovo, despite the pressure from the European Union and some Islamic states… Libya considers Pristina’s unilateral declaration of independence illegal.” Libyan Foreign Ministry
- New Zealand – “It has never been the New Zealand government’s position to recognize in such circumstances.” Prime Minister Helen Clark
- Romania – A joint session of Parliament voted not to recognize Kosovo’s independence by 357 to 27.
- Russia – “Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence is a terrible precedent that breaks up the entire system of international relations that have taken centuries to evolve, and undoubtedly, it may entail a whole chain of unpredictable consequences to other regions in the world.” Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister
- Slovakia – “I do not exclude the possibility that Slovakia will never recognize Kosovo. Kosovo is not some independent territory, it is an integral part of Serbia where Serbs, and members of the Albanian ethic minority live”. Robert Fico, Prime Minister
- South Africa – South Africa calls for further negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo. Foreign Ministry
- Spain – “The Government of Spain will not recognize the unilateral act proclaimed by the assembly of Kosovo … We will not recognize because we consider this does not respect international law”. Miguel Angel Moratinos, Spanish Foreign Minister
- Sri Lanka – “The act could set an unmanageable precedent in the conduct of international relations, the established global order of sovereign states and could thus pose a grave threat to international peace and security”. Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry
- Vietnam – “Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence is not a correct implementation of UN SC resolution 1244 and it will complicate the situation in Kosovo and the Balkan region.” Le Loung Minh, Ambassador to the UN
Days after next week
If UN assembly decides to approve Serbia’s draft and an opinion will be asked from ICJ the answer from there can take even few years. If EU will abstain from the vote it again shows the weakness of EU common foreign policy; if member-states are voting against draft EU continues to underrate international law and UN authority. Anyway the situation on the ground will remain tense or frozen. In Kosovo ICO/ICR, EULEX, UNMIK/UN, KFOR/Nato, OSCE etc. will twist arm who has more or less international authority/executive power, Pristina government and Serbian parallel structures are making the same at local level. The fast way out would be direct negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina without preconditions to find sustainable compromise solution.