Kosovo seeks recognition from Arab Spring states

13/08/2012

Kosovo sides with the west in hopes of getting more international recognition.

By Muhamet Brajshori and Safet Kabashi for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 13/08/12

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A member of the Syrian community shouts slogans against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a protest in Bucharest on July 19th. [Reuters]

Pristina has tried to capitalise on the Arab Spring by siding with the West and regional powers like Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in support of the revolutions in Egypt, Libya and Syria.

Kosovo is calculating that Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, all of which have granted recognition and play influential roles in Arab Spring states, will shift the view of post-revolutionary states in favor of the country's recognition.

But to date, promises of recognition from post-revolution states have remained unfulfilled as they go through difficult transition periods at home and diplomatic capital is spent on more pressing issues. Both Libya and Egypt have put off the decision, promising to address it at the UN General Assembly in September.

Pristina also has high hopes that it will be recognised by Syria, which has opposed recognition in the past but is being rocked by internal turmoil.

Ninety-three nations currently recognise Kosovo. Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi told SETimes that with the change of political landscape in Syria and other Arab countries, the government expects a new position from countries like Syria, Egypt and Libya.

"We expect every country to recognise Kosovo. Dictators in North Africa were against the recognition of independence. But now we have a different, more democratic landscape, which should be conducive to recognition," Selimi said.

Artan Behrami, the spokeperson for the Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told SETimes that the Kosovo's orientation is Euro-Atlantic. "Kosovo has openly supported the democratic change as a result of Arab Spring and is of the opinion that no regime can remain immune to the democratization and freedom wave. In this way, it is a matter of time that this will happen in Syria as well."

Syria's policy towards Kosovo has largely run parallel to that of its chief patron, Russia, who has long opposed Kosovo's independence due to its close ties with Serbia.

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Analysts point out that should Syrian opposition come to power, it would have few resources to immediately engage in sustained diplomatic efforts in the Kosovo.

"The Syrian opposition is not yet mature enough to deal with diplomatic efforts in the Balkans. The Syrian National Council is concentrated more on diplomatic presence in the big centers of power such as Washington, Paris, London, Berlin, Ankara and Cairo," Bakhtyar Aljaf, director of the Ljubljana-based International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, told SETimes.

Alban Bokshi, executive director of the Pristina-based Foreign Policy Club, told SETimes that recognition from Syria would have an impact on the position of other countries in the Middle East towards Kosovo.

"These people will be in power tomorrow, with Assad or without him," Bokshi said. "But to secure recognition, Kosovo needs to show consistency and commitment in its support," Bokshi said, adding that promises of material aid have not been followed through on. Otherwise, they might reconsider their pledge to recognise Kosovo's independence."

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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