President Putin says possible recognition of Kosovo independence is “immoral and illegal” Moscow will take into consideration the possible declaration and the recognition of Kosovo independence as far as the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia is concerned
At his annual press conference on 14 February in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin called the possible recognition of Kosovo independence “immoral and illegal”. He rejected claims that the Kosovo case is unique, saying that the international community should “elaborate uniform principles for the solution of such problems”. The Russian President described the situation in Kosovo as “standard”: “I don’t want to offend anyone, but Northern Cyprus has been a de facto independent republic for 40 years. Why then don’t you recognise it? Are not you, Europeans, ashamed of applying double standards in solving identical problems in different parts of the world?”, he stressed.
However, he emphasized that Russia would not “monkey around” if Kosovo declared independence and the West recognised it, but noted that the possible unilateral recognition of Kosovo independence would be a signal for Russia. “We have a plan and we know what we will do”, said Putin.
In a statement published today following talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh and South Ossetia’s leader Eduard Kokoity, the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that Moscow would take into consideration the possible declaration and the recognition of Kosovo independence as far as the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia is concerned. The Ministry confirmed Moscow’s aspiration to assist peaceful settlements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to counter any attempt to solve problems by force.
It should be also mentioned that yesterday in Moscow a meeting was held between Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and foreign minister of the breakaway republic of Abkhazia Sergey Shamba to discuss a situation arising from the possible declaration of Kosovo independence.
Interfax cites Bagapsh and Kokoity as saying that both Abkhazia and South Ossetia have worked out steps in case of Kosovo independence proclamation. However, they did not specify the steps.
Commenting on the 14 February urgent meeting of the UN Security Council called at Serbia’s request, Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, admitted the UN Security Council’s failure to reach a consensus on the independence for Kosovo (RIA-Novosti). At the same time, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin expressed hope that “the results of the discussion of the Kosovo problem at the UN Security Council will make think those who are actively trying to push Pristina towards proclamation of independence”. Moscow calls “for continued talks [on Kosovo] and confirms the validity of Resolution 1244”, he said (Interfax).
A Russian expert, cited by Novye Izvestia (14/02), commented that “not the entire EU is ready to accept the independence of Kosovo”, and suggested that the proclamation of independence by Kosovo Albanians “would likely take the form of a declaration of intention, at least until March”. The same expert argued that the Europeans might face a problem of “realizing the idea of ‘Great Albania’”, and remarked that the capital of this hypothetical state is located in Skopje. Alexander Karasyov, an expert at the Institute for Slavonic and Balkan Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Vremya novostei (14/02) that “the European Union has missed the momentum when it could really contribute to the Kosovo crisis settlement”: it could have happened, in his view, “if Serbia and Kosovo joined the EU simultaneously”.
Serbian Ambassador to Russia Stanimir Vukicevic announced on Thursday that Belgrade would use any political, diplomatic and civilized means to resists Kosovo’s independence, having reiterated that Serbia will not recognise Kosovo independence as an “accomplished fact”. Gazeta (14.02) reports that Kosovo Serbs fear that after the proclamation of Kosovo independence they could face a wave of violence on the side of Kosovo Albanians. On Wednesday, Serbian PM Vojislav Kostunica called on Kosovo Serbs not to leave their homes in the event that Kosovo declares independence. “No one else than Serbia has the right to the territory of Kosovo and Metohija”, RIA-Novosti quoted him as saying.
Kommersant (14/02) concludes that even after unilateral proclamation by Kosovo Albanians’ leaders of the province’s independence, “the standoff around Kosovo will not end – it will enter a new stage. It would also mean that Belgrade’s struggle for Kosovo will not be over”.
Prepared by the Press and Information Section for the Head of Delegation