Thursday, May 03, 2007

Macedonia could unilaterally recognize Kosovo


3 May 2007 | 12:18 | Source: BIRN
SKOPJE -- Macedonia might follow U.S. and EU suit and unilaterally recognize Kosovo’s independence.

BIRN reports that Macedonian foreign minister Antonio Milososki's statement that his country might opt for the move in the event of the issue not being resolved in the UN Security Council, has surprised few in Skopje.

Milososki was quoted as saying that if efforts to resolve the issue in the UN Security Council fail and influential members of NATO and EU start recognizing Kosovo, Macedonia should seriously consider such a move.

Security expert Biljana Vankovska told Balkan Insight that the minister`s statement came as no surprise as "Plan B was always that if the Ahtisaari plan is not accepted in the UN, the U.S. will recognize Kosovo and secure support for such a move from countries in the region".

"Thus, we can expect that Macedonia will abide by the U.S. position as it is waiting for an invitation to become a NATO member and both the current and the former government have pledged they will follow the US lead on Kosovo," said Vankovska.

The U.S. is seen as a major ally, especially after the U.S. recognition of Macedonia’s constitutional name, which Greece has long disputed, and the U.S. support for Macedonia’s bid to join NATO.

Although Skopje`s official position has been that the country will support a solution acceptable to both sides that would not endanger Macedonia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Macedonian officials have not dismissed the possibility that Skopje would be among the first countries to recognize Kosovo, in case no solution is found in the UN.

Former state secretary for foreign affairs Emil Kirjas says that the matter should be resolved as soon as possible as "any delay to resolve the Kosovo issue will have negative impact not only on Kosovo but for the entire region".

Kirjas also said that "if our main allies in NATO and EU decide to unilaterally recognize Kosovo, then Macedonia should seriously consider that option".

While Kirjas does not expect such a move will have severe consequences for Macedonian-Serbian relations, Vankovska says support for Kosovo will open the door for additional problems with Serbia mainly in regard to Macedonia’s identity. Fair use from BIRN/B92.

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