Czech government recognises Kosovo’s independence
On Wednesday, the Czech government officially recognised Kosovo’s independence and said it planned to establish diplomatic relations with Pristina. The Czech Republic now joins a long line of EU member states to have acknowledged the former Serbian province’s independence, but the move has not been without controversy.
“We have considered Kosovo’s declaration of independence, made on February 17 this year. And we have agreed with the terms on which this independence has been declared. We have been assured that laws protecting the country’s ethnic and religious minorities will be upheld. The Czech government has agreed to the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kosovo, and in this way, the government recognises the status of the Republic of Kosovo.”
But the move has not gained universal approval. There is unease within the government coalition, with the coalition partners the Christian Democrats opposed to the decision. The opposition Social Democrats and Communists are firmly against as well, and have called the move ‘rash’. Some worry that the recognition of an independent Kosovo will lead to a chill in relations with the Czech Republic’s traditional ally Serbia. The former Czech ambassador to Belgrade, Judita Šťouračová, has other concerns:
“I’m worried that this decision contravenes international law. The United Nations’ Security Council, for example, passed a resolution (number 1244) which declares – and I think this is very important – it declares that Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia, which was in fact still Yugoslavia at the time of signing.”
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalová explains the reasoning behind the Czech government’s decision:
“Kosovo proclaimed its independence and this is a fact – a fact we cannot ignore. The policy of the Czech Republic is based upon the conviction that the recognition of Kosovo’s independence will reinforce stability in the region as a whole. And it will provide a realistic way out of the current, untenable, situation. It will also serve to direct the efforts of the Western Balkan countries towards overcoming the challenges ahead of them if they want to join European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.”
Despite the speed with which the ruling was passed, the Czech Republic is one of the last countries in the European Union to recognise Kosovo’s independence. Most EU states have already given Pristina their backing, with the exception of Greece, Slovakia and Spain.