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Kosovo - International Recognition

Many countries fear Kosovo independence because of the potential impact on their own break-away regions. These sentiments are seldom expressed openly but have a powerful effect on the way representatives of these countries approach the issue of Kosovo's final status. "Kosovo can never be independent," is the refrain with the unstated subtext being, "and neither can Corsica, the Basque region, Chechnya, nor Quebec."

After 17 February 2008, when the Assembly of Kosovo declared the independence of the country, Kosovo began the campaign for the recognition of the Republic of Kosovo by all countries and creation of bilateral relations with countries that have recognized Kosovo. Within the scope of these developments is the recognition of Kosovo passports, and visa liberalization or even its removal.

Kosovo, which celebrated the fifth anniversary of its independence on 17 February 2013, was at that time recognised by 98 countries including the United States and most [but not all] of the European Union. Kosovo has been recognized by a total of 24 out of 28 (86%) NATO member states, except for Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain, and a total of 22 out of 27 (81%) European Union (EU) member states, except for the four NATO members, and Cyprus. It is recognised by all of the successor states to Former Yugoslavia with the exception of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The UK was among the first countries to recognise the independence of the Republic of Kosovo, on 18 February 2008. Kosovo and the UK have strong bilateral relations. France recognized Kosovo on 18 February 2008, just after its proclamation of independence. It has played an active role in settling the Kosovo issue, first as a member of the Contact Group, a group of States tasked with monitoring the UN trusteeship over Kosovo, then, after 2004, during negotiations on the status led by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Secondly, France maintained an active presence in the field and is one of the leading contributors to the KFOR (780 soldiers out of a total of 10,000 as of 2011) and EULEX (188 judges, police and customs officers, out of nearly 1,800). The French were also present within the International Civilian Office and the OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMIK).

On June 26, 2013 Egypt became the 100th country to recognize Kosovo as independent, a milestone for the Balkan country's pursuit of full international acceptance. A ministry official said this was the 100th recognition since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 with the backing of the West. The country of 1.7 million people is also recognized by the United States and 22 of the European Union's 27 member-states.

By 2016 Kosovo's independence had been recognized by 111 countries, including the US and major European Union nations. Kosovo's independence is rejected by Serbia, with support from Russia, which has blocked Kosovo from becoming a UN member. Kosovo and Serbia are holding EU-mediated talks to try to overcome their differences.

Cyprus takes the view that Kosovo was not a sui generis case, but rather represented dangerous precedent for countries such as Cyprus that were confronting separatism. Cyprus continues to oppose Kosovo's 2008 unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) on the strongest possible terms. Cyprus supported Serbia's effort within the UN General Assembly to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the UDI's alleged illegality, and filed a written statement by the April 17 deadline in line with Belgrade's claims.

Greece has maintained a long-term position of supporting Serbia, and Greece has not recognized Kosovo's independence. However, Greece views the situation in Kosovo to be irreversible. Greece does not want new problems related to Kosovo. Notwithstanding the lack of recognition of an independent Kosovo, Greece provided personnel to EULEX, the ICO, the OSCE Mission, NATO, and had ongoing dialogue with Kosovar authorities through the Greek liaison office in Pristina. Greece -- as the only Orthodox country among the original EU 15 -- has claimed a special relationship with Russia vis-a-vis Western Europe.

Romania holds a rather legalistic view of Kosovo's independence, which they will only ever recognize if Serbia does. For Romania, there can be no internationally recognized imposition of special collective rights for a group; only individual human rights, as enshrined in the Declaration, carry legal weight. Romania denies international recognition of secession on the basis of collective rights and without the consent of the losing sovereign state. This legal view has everything to do with the ethnic Hungarian minority located in two counties in the center of Romania. This view applies as much to Serbia-Kosovo as it does to Republika Srpska-Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Slovakia's refusal to recognize Kosovo's independence was initially based on concerns that if the Ahtisaari plan became a model for the treatment of ethnic minorities, this would be interpreted as support for broad autonomy or even independence for ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia. It would inflame existing tensions within Slovak domestic politics and in Slovak-Hungarian relations. Most Slovaks viewed the Slovak troops serving in Kosovo as being there to protect the Serbian population.

Spain had gone so far out on the limb of opposition to Kosovo's independence that it will find it difficult to climb down. The Spanish position is "principled," based on respect for international law and concern over the precedent a unilateral declaration of independence set. Spain's position was also one of "constructive dissent" and lays great emphasis on the fact that Spain plays a positive role by trying to keep Serbia on the right path: focused on integration with Europe. Spain had to support Serbia's position or risk undermining its own position on Gibraltar. Spain is committed to EU consensus and to finding constructive ways to resolve the status of Kosovo and preserve regional stability.

Bangladesh recognized on 27 February 2017 the independence of the self-proclaimed republic of Kosovo. The decision was adopted at a regular session of the cabinet earlier in the day in accordance with the proposal of Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry. The session that the cabinet approved the proposal to recognize Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state. Bangladesh became the 114th country that officially recognized the republic.

Ghana reversed its recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, a move hailed by Serbia as an "important decision." at that time, a total of 115 ther countries had recognized Kosovo. An 11 November 2019 statement from the Ghanaian Foreign Ministry said the 2012 decision to recognize the former Serbian province’s statehood turned out to be “premature” in view of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The 1999 resolution placed Kosovo under international protection and gave the region "substantial autonomy" within Yugoslavia, which Serbia was a part of at the time.

International recognition of Kosovo's independence and sovereignty will remain a priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The process of recognizing Kosovo has shown that the state of Kosovo is an unchanging reality and an indispensable factor of peace and stability in the region. This is best evidenced by the fact of formal recognition of Kosovo by all neighboring countries (with the exception of Serbia), the vast majority of countries in the region and the Euro-Atlantic community.

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