Three of Serbia's neighbours recognize Kosovo

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Serbians protesting against Kosovan independence on February 21, 2008.
Image: JustUser.

Croatia, Bulgaria and Hungary, all of which border Serbia, announced in a joint statement Wednesday that they will recognize Kosovo as an independent state.

"The decision on the recognition of Kosovo is based on thorough consideration," the statement said.

Croatia and Hungary later confirmed they had officially recognized Kosovo, while Bulgaria is expected to make an announcement Thursday. Yesterday, Bulgaria's security council held a meeting regarding Kosovo. Angel Naidenov, spokesman of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, praised Kosovo for their efforts in establishing a "multi-ethnic and democratic country."

The statement says Kosovo's declaration of independence was prompted by the international community's failure to work out a solution between Serbia and Kosovo. "In these circumstances the change of the unsustainable status quo was unavoidable," the statement said.

The three nations express their interest in helping the European Union with stabilizing the region, and they wish to develop ties with a Kosovo that "maintains good relations with its neighbors, enjoys economic growth, and keeps its European orientation."

Serbian foreign minister Vuk Jeremić criticized their decision. "Every country that decides to recognize the illegally declared state of Kosovo breaches international law," he said, adding that countries who recognize Kosovo "cannot have good ties with Serbia."

"I call on states, particularly those of the region, not to take this step. Do not injure our country's territorial integrity and sovereignty," Jeremić said.

Boris Tadić, Serbia's president, had previously warned Croatia that recognizing Kosovo would have a negative effect on their relations. "We want to have the best possible relations with this country," Tadić said. "But recognition of Kosovo is certainly not an act of goodwill between neighbours."

Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader says he does not expect relations to worsen. "I do understand this is a difficult one for Serbia to swallow. That's one of the reasons we have waited until now. But I don't expect a worsening of political and economic relations because there is no alternative to good neighbourly relations."

Kosovo's deputy prime minister, Hajredin Kuçi said the decision was "very good for the Serbian perception and the people of Serbia that everybody who is in the neighbourhood is recognizing the new reality."