Military

Taiwan officially recognizes Kosovo independence

ROC Central News Agency

2008-02-19 21:44:41

    Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang announced Tuesday that Taiwan officially recognizes Kosovo's independence but denied speculation that the decision came after angry remarks from China about Taiwan's expression of congratulation to the newly independent country. ¡§The decision came after the United States and other European countries recognized Kosovo¡¦s sovereignty, ¡¨Huang said, adding that the remarks by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not influence Taiwan¡¦s decision.

    China reacted angrily to Taiwan¡¦s expression of support for Kosovo¡¦s independence. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a statement Monday that¡§it is known to all that as a part of China, Taiwan has no right or eligibility to give so-called ¡¥recognition¡¦to Kosovo.¡¨ ¡§As a sovereign, independent country and part of the international community with 23 allies, there is no doubt that Taiwan has the right to recognize Kosovo,¡¨Huang said, adding that Taiwan¡¦s expression of congratulations was a kind of¡§acquiescence¡¨before Tuesday¡¦s official announcement of recognition. ¡§It would be negligent of the ministry if Taiwan did not express its stance on this significant international matter,¡¨he added.

    Huang said China¡¦s remarks came as¡§no surprise¡¨as it has long been squeezing Taiwan¡¦s diplomatic space in the international community. Although the recognition of Kosovo is by no means a response to China¡¦s comment, had Taiwan done nothing on the issue, it would be admitting that what China said is correct.

    Self-determination is a right recognized by the United Nations, and Taiwan, a member of the international community that cherishes democracy and freedom, is delighted that the people of Kosovo have the fruits of independence, democracy and freedom to look forward to, the minister said.

    Under international law, a sovereign state can recognize an entity as a country to join any international body that requires statehood, Huang noted, saying that China¡¦s remarks failed to accord with the basic concept of international law.

    Huang said there have been some contacts between Taiwan and Kosovo over the last two years and that Taiwan has made a good impression on Kosovan government officials and media that have visited Taiwan.

    Given that Taiwan wishes to develop all kinds of relations with any country that cherishes peace and freedom, Taiwan will¡§continue the bilateral contacts and develop further relations based on respect and mutual willingness,¡¨he said.

    Kosovo, formerly a province of Serbia and under UN administration since mid-1999, has over 90 percent ethnic Albanians and 7 percent Serbs making up its 2 million population. It has officially declared independence and has been recognized by the United States as well as the majority of countries in the European Union.

    However, there are a number of dissenters to Kosovo¡¦s independence, including Serbia and Russia, which even called an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting to protest the declaration.

    China expressed grave concern over Kosovo's declaration of independence Monday, saying that it can produce a series of results that will lead to a seriously negative influence on peace and stability in the Balkan region, and that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 is still the political basis and legal foundation under which Kosovo's status should be resolved.

    China fears that the immediate recognition granted to Kosovo by major European countries and the U.S. might set a precedent for Taiwan and Tibet, which have a similar relationship to Beijing as Kosovo has to the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

(By Rachel Chan)

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