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Kosovo backs Ukraine even though Kyiv has not recognized its independence, foreign minister says

In World
May 08, 2024

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Kosovo’s foreign minister said Wednesday that her country is convinced that Russia must lose the war in Ukraine for conflict not to spread further in Europe. She said her young nation’s support for Ukraine is unconditional even though Kyiv has not recognized Kosovo’s independence.

Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz, who is both foreign minister and deputy prime minister, said her small Balkan nation, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, is constantly reminded of the aggressive intentions of both Serbia and its ally Russia.

“Ukraine hasn’t recognized the Republic of Kosovo as a state, but we really believe that we know exactly what Ukraine is going through,” she told The Associated Press in an interview.

“And we know that there is only one solution, not only for Ukraine, but for Europe,” she said. “It can only be Russia to lose the war and Ukraine to win this war. Otherwise, Europe should prepare for other conflicts in our continent.”

The people of Kosovo were the targets of war crimes and other atrocities by Serbia’s security forces in the 1990s, an experience that led Kosovo to seek independence.

“While Kosovo is a small state with very modest possibilities to help, we have tried to be very helpful with Ukraine and have not hesitated to show our unconditional support and sympathy to the people and to the state of Ukraine,” Gërvalla-Schwarz told the AP.

The latest reminder of Moscow threatening Kosovo came this week when a Russian Telegram channel called for a denial-of-service attack on Kosovo government websites after Kosovo’s defense minister announced new military aid for Ukraine at a conference in Warsaw on Tuesday.

Gërvalla-Schwarz on Wednesday inaugurated Kosovo’s first consular mission in Poland, part of an effort to improve economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries. Poland recognized Kosovo’s statehood in 2008 but the two countries did not establish diplomatic relations at the time. For now the Kosovo mission has the status of a consulate general, but she said she hopes it could be a step to having an embassy in Poland.

Her visit to Poland this week coincided with a visit to the capital of Serbia, Belgrade, by Chinese President Xi Jinping which included pledges to deepen ties.

Gërvalla-Schwarz said the Chinese leader’s visit has implications for Europe because it shows that while Serbia is a European Union candidate state, it is “more and more identifying itself with the adversaries of the European Western democracies.”

“You cannot be at the same time a candidate state of the European Union and be the proxy of Russia in these times where Russia has declared the war not only to Ukraine but to the West as such,” she said.

Serbian forces fought a 1998-99 war with ethnic Albanian separatists in what was then the province of Kosovo. About 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians, died until a 78-day NATO bombing campaign pushed Serbian forces out.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but the government in Belgrade doesn’t recognize its neighbor as a separate country.

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