MaltaToday, 20 Feb 2008 | Kosovo: Malta adopts ‘wait and see’ approach

NEWS | Sunday, 20 February 2008

Kosovo: Malta adopts ‘wait and see’ approach

James Debono

Malta is “examining all international developments” before taking a decision on whether to recognise the breakaway republic of Kosovo, Foreign Minister Michael Frendo told MaltaToday.
Frendo added that he would not like to commit the next government with a decision taken a few days before the election.
Malta had previously opposed the recognition of an independent Kosovo in the absence of a resolution in the United Nation’s Security Council. Russia and China, both of which have veto powers in the Security Council, oppose Kosovar independence.
But Western government like the United States and Great Britain have already recognised the new state.
According to diplomatic sources, Malta is closely watching the position adopted by Greece, a pro-West nation with strong cultural ties to Orthodox Serbia. Although opposed to Kosovar independence, the Greek conservative government has not categorically excluded recognising the new state.
Clearly Malta does not want to be isolated on this issue.
Frendo made it clear that Malta’s primary objective is “stability in the Balkans”. He also insisted that the “rights of Serbs and other minorities in Kosovo have to be protected.”
Kosovo’s parliament had unanimously endorsed a declaration of independence from Serbia, in a historic session on Sunday. Three EU states – Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia – have already told other EU governments that they will not recognise Kosovo.
Spain also expressed concern that Kosovar independence will encourage separatists at home. Cyprus is concerned that Kosovar independence will serve as a prelude to the recognition of the breakaway republic in Northern Cyprus. Turkey is the only country to recognise the northern Turkish enclave cut off from the rest of Cyprus following a Turkish invasion in 1974.
Russia, which has strong historic ties with Serbia, could use the pretext of Kosovar independence to legitimise Russian sponsored republics in Georgia and Moldova.
The United States was quick to recognise the new Kosovar republic. Kosovo already hosts Camp Bondsteel, one of the largest foreign US military bases in the world. The base is located close to vital oil pipelines and energy corridors such as the US sponsored Trans-Balkan oil pipeline. As a result defence contractors – in particular Halliburton Oil subsidiary Brown & Root Services – are making a fortune in Kosovo.
At a meeting in Brussels, the EU set aside differences over the recognition of Kosovo, by stressing that it was not a precedent for separatists elsewhere. All 27 EU foreign ministers agreed to leave recognition up to each member state.
Critics point out that Kosovar independence could have a domino effect on neighbouring states. Serbs in Republika Srpska which is part of Bosnia-Herzegovina could now demand independence.

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Kosovo: Malta adopts ‘wait and see’ approach

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