Thailand, Grenada and Libya last month formally recognised Kosovo, joining Guyana, Tanzania, Yemen, El Salvador and Egypt as countries that gave recognition this year.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 10/10/13
Kosovo has been recognised by 106 members of the United Nations. [SETimes file]
Kosovo officials are holding talks with Arab countries, the Vatican and Israel to gain formal global recognition, five years after declaring independence from Serbia.
"The process of the international recognition of Kosovo is unstoppable and with a global geography," Kosovo's Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj said of intensifying negotiations with the Organisation for Islamic Co-operation (OIC) and the Vatican.
In September, Hoxhaj held talks with OIC General Secretary Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and Francesko Kanalini, special envoy to Pope Francis.
"The step of the formal recognition from the side of Vatican would be gratitude for the sufferings and the current strong engagement of the people of Kosovo in building a democratic state, in full accordance with the best European values," Hoxhaj said, adding that he is convinced that the pope "would open his heart" for the people of Kosovo and recognise the values of the state.
Half of the OIC member states have recognised Kosovo and the rest "have no political or legal reasons not to recognise the Republic of Kosovo," Hoxhaj said.
Thailand, Grenada and Libya last month formally recognised Kosovo, joining Guyana, Tanzania, Yemen, El Salvador and Egypt as countries that gave recognition this year. To date 106 UN members recognise Kosovo's independence.
Officials are also seeking recognition from Israel. Less than 100 Jews live in Kosovo currently, but the authorities have taken steps to promote relations between the Jewish community and the rest of the population. A Holocaust memorial plaque was unveiled in May this year in Pristina and there are plans to build a Jewish historical museum.
"Israel is not just a country, it is an important country, influential in the community of nations," Kosovo's Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi told Jewish Telegraphic Agency JTA on September 13th, stressing historical links between the two countries.
Experts have different opinions over the government's new strategy.
The whole issue of recognition is complex and debatable, university professor Valon Murtezaj, who teaches in Paris, told SETimes. He said that after the decision of International Court of Justice in favour of Kosovo independence, all states of the world should have recognised it as an independent state, but "as states have their political reasons, and their interests, it happens frequently that they would be in a clash with the juridical approaches," he said.
Political commentator and university professor Belul Beqaj said that simultaneous action for the recognition is a smart step, since taking them one by one will cause resistance from one side or another.
"There are numerous challenges, but they have a special sensitivity taking into account the impact of the Arab world on one side and Vatican on another … as well as the structure of the population of Kosovo," Beqaj told SETimes.
Seb Bytyci, executive director of the Balkan Peace Institute, said the main challenge for the recognition from the Middle East is that Kosovo is not on the political radar of these states.
"Some states see Kosovo as a creature of the West and refuse to recognise it," Bytyci told SETimes.
Petrit Zogaj, executive director of Kosovo Movement "Fol" (Speak Up), noted that Kosovo's negotiations with the Vatican and Israel seem sufficient, but not as much as it will bring visible results. On the other hand, the challenges related to the non-recognition from Arab countries are historical, contextual and strategic, he said.
"A good part of those states preserve a good memory of Tito's Yugoslavia and see Serbia as its successor," Zogaj told SETimes. "Another part sees the state of Kosovo as a Western product and that creates for them further prejudices. And this part does not see any political, economic or strategic interest to recognise Kosovo."
What do you think the Kosovo government should do to achieve more recognition? Share your thought in comments.