As the “coalition of the backwards” (Greece, Romania, Cyprus, etc.) against Kosovo independence remains, well, what it is, Austria has taken the plunge and announced that it would be among the first of the EU nations to recognize Kosovo independence come UDI day. Although the core of EU nations are planning on recognizing Kosovo independence, Austria is one of the first nations to state publicly that it will do so when the time comes in about a month’s time.
Despite some of the complaints against the EU that it couldn’t kick itself out of a wet paper bag, the Kosovo issue has — contrary to Russia’s expectations and Serbia’s gamble — empowered the EU with the same vengeance that the Euro has taken against the dollar. Austria’s declaration of recognition may perhaps signal a new flexing of muscle for the EU in international affairs.
Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic protested that Austria’s comments will damage its relations with Serbia. Of course, Serbia already said months ago that any country who will recognize Kosovo’s independence — at the time Serbia said this, the core of EU countries already signaled their intention to recognize Kosovo’s independence — will face “dire consequences.” Indeed, then, it appears that Serbia has already damaged its relations with the core of EU countries, including Austria, a long time ago.
The Serbian government protested on Wednesday against the statement by Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer that his country would be among the first to recognize the independence of Kosovo. “The Republic of Serbiastrongly opposes such statements and considers that the process of negotiations on the future status of Kosovo and Metohija should be continued under U.N. Security Council auspices,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic handed “a strongly worded demarche” to the Austrian ambassador in Serbiaconcerning Gusenbauser’s statement. Jeremic also highlighted the importance of preserving Serbia’s territorial integrity, and underlined that such statements greatly damage bilateral relations between Austria and Serbia, the statement said.
In an interview published Wednesday Gusenbauer told the Austria Press Agency that the European Union must show it can “solve problems at home in Europe,” describing Kosovo as the “last big unsolved issue of the 20th century.” “We will not sit in the first rows and look at what others are doing,” Gusenbauer said about Vienna’s reaction to a unilateral declaration of the province’s independence.
He said Austriawill “certainly be among those who will have a clear attitude on the issue and who will show the way forward.” Gusenbauer also called on Pristina and Belgradeto act responsibly to avoid violence in the coming weeks when Kosovo is expected to declare independence unilaterally, and to cooperate with the EU to find a solution on the province’s status. (Source: XINHUA)