| European powers to formally recognize independent Kosovo |
| Monday, 18 February 2008 |
European powers Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Austria said Monday they would recognize Kosovo's independence but some other EU nations were opposed including Spain.
France has recognized Kosovo independence on Monday, stated French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, after the approval of the joint declaration by the EU’s foreign ministers in Brussels.
Kouchner stated that President Nicolas Sarkozy will send a letter to the President of Kosovo, to notify him with France’s official recognition.
“It’s the end of Balkan troubles. I hope that they are done. Now we need reconciliation, although I know right now that it will take a long time,” said Kouchner at a press conference. Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci was quick to thank France for being first: "We are grateful to France for recognition. This is a crucial issue for new state of Kosovo and its functioning."
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband followed his French colleague. “On behalf of the United Kingdom, I can announce that the British government has decided to recognize Kosovo," Miliband told reporters at the end of EU foreign ministers talks in Brussels.
Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said Italy would proceed to recognize Kosovo, while his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his government would meet to do so on Wednesday. ˝Around seventeen states have decided to react quickly so as to avoid creating a vacuum with indecisive behaviour,˝ Steinmeier said.
Austria announced its intention to recognize Kosovo as an independent state. Speaking at the sidelines of the European Union's Foreign Ministers' meeting in Brussels, Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said the country's government will consider the matter in its upcoming meeting on Wednesday and initiate the proper legal proceedings.
U.S. President George W. Bush said earlier in the day from Africa where he is visiting that Kosovars "are now independent," but stopped short of an official declaration of recognition. More information about this issue is expected from the State Department later today.
A "vast majority" of EU nations are likely to recognize Kosovo in "one form or another" over the next month, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said Monday. "We will be well within that time frame," he said, referring to Sweden, which under its constitution must make such moves through a royal advisory council.
Finland and Denmark are preparing to recognise Kosovo as an independent state, the Finnish foreign ministry and Danish news reports said Monday. "We are starting preparations" for the recognition of Kosovo, Finnish foreign ministry spokesman Juha Kirstilae told AFP by telephone from Brussels.
Earlier in the day Afghanistan became the first country to extend independent Kosovo recognition. Speaking for the Afghan service of Radio Free Europe, Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmand Bahin said that in “accordance with the United Nations Charter, the right for self-determination and democratic elections of 3 November, 2007, Afghanistan wishes success to Kosovo and offers her cooperation.”
Landlocked and with an economy that has been ignored for decades, Kosovo depends on its European allies to build the budding state.