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Kosovo

Capital Prishtina
Time Zone CET (GMT+1)
Country Code 377 (Monaco); 381 (Serbia)
Mobile Codes 44
ccTLD (TBD)
Currency Euro
Land Area 10,908 sq km
Population 1.8 million
Language Albanian, Serbian, Turkish
Major Religions Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholicism

Countries that Recognized Kosovo in 2012 and Implications

By Chris Deliso

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008, and since then its leaders have been primarily occupied with getting as many recognitions as possible so as to be able to join the UN and international bodies, sports federations, song contests and so on. In the year 2012, some 13 additional foreign countries recognized Kosovo, leaving Prishtina just two recognitions shy of its goal of having a total of 100 supporters by the end of the year.

Analysis

Kosovo has had uneven results in the challenge of getting foreign countries to recognize it. After the initial burst of recognitions from the big Western supporters of the country, there were long periods of inactivity due to Serbian counter-diplomacy, particularly in Africa and the Arab world. At the lowest point, only seven additional states recognized Kosovo during all 2010.

However, the tide seems to be turning, with key ‘defections’ from the Serbian position in the past two years. The upheaval of the ‘Arab Spring’ has changed the traditional dynamics and actors in the Arab world politically. Of course, formidable obstacles remain so long as China and Russia keep up their commitment to Serbia’s stance.

Kosovo diplomats such as Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj have racked up tens of thousands of air miles in the past year traveling the world to meet with counterparts from countries large and small, which in some cases seems to have made the difference in a few situations that turned out in their favor.

However, much of the thanks for Kosovo’s 13 recognitions in 2012 should go to Turkey, which has used its growing economic and political clout in Africa to the advantage of Kosovo. This growing clout, a topic only recently being emphasized by world media, was anticipated and pointed out over two years ago by Balkanalysis.com, in a piece on the subject on 1 January 2011. And, of the 12 countries that recognized Kosovo in 2011, eight were African states where the same Turkish influence prevails.

The Turkish intermediary role will continue in practical terms in other ways, too. Some of these new recognizers, for example, Pakistan (the last one of the year, on 24 December) announced that it will accredit its current ambassador in Ankara with the Kosovo job as well. Thus Pakistani diplomacy on Kosovo will go through a Turkey lens.

The US was also able to chip in partially during the year, helping to get a few small island states to recognize Kosovo. The reasons for other recognitions are not known. Diplomats from Prishtina have confirmed for Balkanalysis.com that they enjoy ‘direct connections’ with the US State Department on a daily basis, where a desk officer is tasked with lobbying for the country when possible. Kosovar diplomats are attuned to opportunities for meeting and petitioning other diplomats, businessmen and influential persons to their cause.

This is all in stark contrast to the case with neighboring Macedonia, which has chronically suffered a similar predicament (getting more countries to recognize it by its constitutional name). However in this case the Obama administration’s State Department is largely indifferent and does not help this process in any way, though the US has recognized Macedonia’s constitutional name since President Bush made it his first foreign policy move after winning reelection in 2004.

The risible irony here is that the lobbying for such pursuits is thus left up to the Macedonia lobbyists- whose cause is championed by the Turkey lobby. Along with the big EU countries and the US, Turkey is also on the informal committee guiding Kosovo towards its eventual UN membership bid. A meeting of the group took place in November.

For its part, Serbia seems less and less interested in a diplomatic war of attrition, and the feared return to nationalism that followed Tomislav Nikolic’s victory in elections this year has failed to materialize, much to the chagrin of partisan pundits who had hoped for some good material to work with.

All in all, by the end of 2012, 98 sovereign countries had recognized Kosovo. Statistically, this means that over 50 percent of the UN membership recognizes it as a state. Still, there are five non-recognizers from the EU (Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Romania and Slovakia, which Kosovo diplomats will seek to target heavily in 2013. They have already in 2012 published a booklet with British support outlining the policies of each of these states with an eye to understanding how they can be exploited to move them from their position.

However, in late November 2012, it was reported that these countries are ‘less likely than ever’ to recognize Kosovo, with one reason being separatist movements in Spain. And Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik very recently stated that even though he has come under “enormous pressure” he would not allow Sarajevo to recognize Kosovo.

The following list cites the names and dates of countries recognizing Kosovo during the past year. Where the source of influence on the decision has been definitely established by Balkanalysis.com, this data is also provided.

2012 Recognitions by Date

Ghana (January 26, 2012) Note: direct Turkish influence

Haiti (February 10, 2012) Note: indirect US influence

Uganda (February 17, 2012) Note: direct Turkish influence

Sao Tome and Principe (March 17, 2012) Note: direct Turkish influence

Brunei (April 25, 2012) Note: direct Turkish influence

Chad (June 1, 2012) Note: direct Turkish influence

Papua New Guinea (October 28, 2012)

Burundi (October 28, 2012) Note: direct Turkish influence

Timor-Leste (November 9, 2012)

Fiji (November 22, 2012)

St. Kitts and Nevis (November 27, 2012) Note: indirect US/UK influence

Dominica (December 11, 2012) Note: indirect US/UK influence

Pakistan (December 24, 2012)

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