“Favorable background for Serbia”: why countries withdraw recognition of Kosovo

"Favorable background for Serbia": why countries withdraw recognition of Kosovo
Several African and Asian countries may withdraw recognition of Kosovo.

Kosovo may lose the support of ten countries – they, according to media reports, are ready to withdraw their recognition of the independence of this state. According to experts, these are African and Asian countries, the decision of which, nevertheless, is unlikely to greatly change the situation in the region, but will create a favorable background for Serbia.

Ten countries are willing to withdraw recognition of Kosovo’s independence if Pristina launches the re-recognition process, the Serbian newspaper Politika reported, citing sources. The material does not disclose which countries are in question – this is explained by the threat of pressure on these states from the United States. But, according to the publication, we are talking about countries in Africa and Asia.

Experts interviewed by ME believe that these are small countries that either half a century ago were colonies of former European empires, or once recognized the independence of Kosovo under pressure from the US and EU countries.

Georgy Engelhardt, an expert at the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, explains the refusal of these ten countries to recognize Kosovo by the deadlock that arose in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina on the normalization of relations. He admitted that in this way Belgrade is trying to induce the West to put pressure on the authorities of the self-proclaimed Kosovo.

“This whole campaign is aimed at developing small African countries and the countries of Asia, the island states. The goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of states recognizing the independence of Kosovo to less than half of the members of the UN General Assembly . The campaign itself does not have a direct impact on the policies of the major powers, but it can create a more favorable background for Serbia in these negotiations”, the source told ME.

Geopolitical analyst of the Center for Social Stability Predrag Rajic, quoted by Politics, also believes that countries in Africa and the Middle East can withdraw recognition of their independence.

An important moment in this situation could be the opening of the Kosovo embassy in Jerusalem by Pristina, which went into operation in mid-March. Rajic called this move wrong.

Other countries refused to recognize Kosovo

The Republic of Kosovo is a partially recognized state on the Balkan Peninsula. Its parliament declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. Belgrade considers the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (this is the name of the region, enshrined in the Serbian constitution) as part of its territory. The main population of Kosovo is Albanians, while its northern part is predominantly inhabited by Serbs – it does not obey the authorities in Pristina.

The independence of Kosovo was recognized by more than 90 UN member states , but later some withdrew their recognition. For the most part, this decision was made by African countries – CAR, Ghana, Burundi, Lesotho, Togo, Comoros and others. Papua New Guinea, Dominica, Grenada, and the Solomon Islands also refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence.

In addition to Serbia, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Spain refuse to recognize the independence of the republics.

In 2013, Belgrade launched the process of normalizing relations with the Kosovo government under the Brussels Agreement, but it stalled in November 2018.

In September last year, Serbia and Kosovo signed an agreement in Washington to normalize economic relations. The United States acted as an intermediary in the deal. Kosovo agreed not to seek membership in international organizations for a year, and Serbia for the same period refused to take actions aimed at persuading other countries not to recognize Kosovo or to withdraw the already existing recognition.

Can other countries turn their backs on Kosovo?

So far, the reviews of the recognition of Kosovo have not resulted in any qualitative result, this story is not valuable in itself, but it fits into the general changes in the world, said Ekaterina Entina, professor at the HSE Department of International Relations . As she explained to ME, such a step on the part of ten countries does not bring significant tactical changes.

The expert acknowledges the strengthening of Belgrade’s positions against the background of changes in the overall structure of international relations since the mid-2000s.

She noted that over the past five years, the Serbs, taking into account these ten countries, have managed to turn away from the recognition of more than two dozen states.

“This clearly indicates a change in the general traditions in the culture of international relations in the world as a whole, about the strengthening of previously ‘dormant’ rapidly growing countries, mainly in Asia and partly in Africa. Belgrade succeeds a lot in working with the former colonial countries of these regions, which were an important direction in the ‘non-aligned movement’ and a space where Belgrade managed to work effectively during socialist times”, she said.

According to her, such global transformations are increasingly calling into question the status of those territories that are in about the same position in the world as Kosovo.

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