Serbia’s former province Kosovo should no longer be an independent nation, says the Czech President Milos Zeman. The Czech Republic is the first country in the European Union and NATO to put forward such a proposal, according to Kosovo analyst and reporter Agon Maliqi.
The Serbian government and the Foreign Ministry have been persuading states that have already recognized Kosovo to withdraw their decision. For example, this summer, Togo did so. According to Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, there are fifteen such countries, mostly African or Caribbean, such as Burundi, Central African Republic, Grenada or Dominica.
On his visit to Serbia, Czech President Zeman confirmed that the Czech Republic should withdraw its diplomatic recognition of Kosovo, granted on May 21, 2008. In the European Union, Kosovo is recognized by 23 of the 28 member states.
Five EU members have never recognised Kosovo – Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Romania and the Slovak Republic, and it has been struggling to gain diplomatic acceptance as well as join the UN. Neither Russia nor China recognizes Kosovo.
At a joint press conference on Wednesday with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, Zeman said the issue would be raised at a counseling on the constitution due within a month.
“I’m not a dictator … but what I can do is to raise this issue and see if this [withdrawal of recognition] is possible,” Zeman said. Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said on Wednesday that he would be willing to discuss the matter with the president.
Czech Defence Minister, Lubomir Metnar, recently described the recognition of Kosovo’s independence as “a diplomatic mistake”.
“Probably he will be on my side and let’s see in about a month who will be on the other side,” Zeman said in response to Metnar’s comments . He added that a “country led by war criminals should not be in the community of democratic countries”.
After landing at Belgrade airport on Tuesday, Zeman said that he “loved Serbia and the Serbian people. And I don’t love Kosovo”. Most Kosovars are Muslim.
Bilateral agreements on defence and innovation were signed during the visit. Serbian President Vucic thanked Zeman during the press conference on Wednesday for his Kosovo statement. “Zeman is true friend of Serbia. It is rare for such people to come to Serbia – who genuinely love Serbia,” Vucic said.
“The goal is to make the number of states recognizing Kosovo’s independence fall below 97. This will result in them not being able to behave as they wish. They cannot become members of the United Nations because it will be vetoed by Russia in the Security Council,” explained Serbian Minister Ivica Dačič.
Serbia successfully lobbied against Kosovo’s entry into Interpol. In response, Pristina introduced a 100 percent duty on all goods imported from Serbia, worth about half a billion euros a year.
Kosovo ‘s economic situation is still much worse in comparison with its surroundings twenty years after the civil war and eleven years after the declaration of independence. According to the World Bank, GDP per head in Kosovo in 2018 was just under $3 900. In Serbia it is more than 7000 dollars, in Romania almost 11 thousand, and in the Czech Republic over 23 thousand dollars.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj canceled his participation at a summit of Central European countries following the Czech president’s remarks.
Haradinaj said on Thursday that he told Czech PM Andrej Babis he could not take part in the summit of the Visegrad Group ahead of Kosovo’s early general election due on October 6, AP reported.
Dan Baer, US ambassador to the OSCE under former President Barack Obama, openly threatened Zeman.
That would be destabilizing.
The U.S. should be privately telling him what consequences will befall Zeman if he does that. https://t.co/WY8ZCFlsAM
— Dan Baer (@danbbaer) September 11, 2019