OpEd

Kosovo with multilateral independence

Not only in Serbia, but also in some circles of the EU, the term "unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo" continues to be mentioned. It is a completely misleading term, because there have been few declarations of independence that have been less bilateral or more multilateral than that of Kosovo. Even now when Kosovo takes steps that an independent state has the right to take, it is recalled that they must be coordinated. So, even after 16 years, Kosovo has a kind of multilateral independence

The age of 16 in some countries is the age above which young people can vote in European elections this year. In Austria, Belgium, Germany and Malta, those who have turned 16 can vote now. Kosovo as an independent state has completed 16 years. But few have the right to vote in many international organizations. After these 16 years, it has not managed to completely round off its international subjectivity, even though it has achieved considerable success in this direction. But expectations were greater 16 years ago.

On the 16th anniversary of Independence, some circumstances and facts should be recalled that more and more people in Brussels and other European countries do not know about. And for this they take as facts some things that are the product of Serbian propaganda. For example, the statement that the declaration of Kosovo's Independence was a unilateral act. That it was a violation of international law.

Not only in Serbia, but also in some circles of the EU, the term "unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo" continues to be mentioned. It is a completely misleading term, because there have been few declarations of independence that have been less bilateral or more multilateral than that of Kosovo. Even now when Kosovo takes steps that an independent state has the right to take, it is recalled that they must be coordinated. So, even after 16 years, Kosovo has a kind of multilateral independence.

Twice in "Koha Ditore" we had written the date when Kosovo's independence would be declared. Twice, a few weeks before the declaration of independence, we wrote that this would happen on February 17. And we did not write this from Kosovar sources, but from those of the EU. Because the declaration of Kosovo's independence was extremely coordinated. And the coordination was done by the European Union, together with the United States of America, while the Kosovo authorities were the main actors in the display of the declaration of independence. Every step was planned in detail. Even though it had to be announced on Sunday afternoon, one day before the regular meeting of the Council of Ministers of the EU. Even the anthem and the flag were designed and composed according to multilaterally agreed guidelines. It was also known which state at which moment would make public the position for recognition and when it would make the formal recognition. This declaration of independence was made on the basis of an international proposal, after an international process led by the special envoy of the UN secretary general. All this makes this independence of Kosovo to be much less unilateral than, for example, that of Croatia or Slovenia. And no one uses the term "unilateral" when talking about the declarations of independence of Croatia and Slovenia. Perhaps because there were no "multilateral" elements, Croatia and Slovenia had agreed to announce a moratorium on their independence for a while.

The statements that are heard from people close to the high representative of the EU, Josep Borrell, and the special envoy for the dialogue, Miroslav Lajçak, that the term "unilateral declaration of independence" in the case of Kosovo is used because "with this Serbia has not agreed" were also heard as arguments by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. They were heard from Russia, Spain, Serbia, Slovakia and several other countries. But most other countries said a historical fact. That many states have been created on the globe without the permission of any neighboring state or without the agreement of a state that had under administration that territory.

Of course, it would be good if Serbia agreed with the independence of Kosovo. No recognition would be more important for Kosovo than recognition from Serbia. But to assert that without Serbia's permission, Kosovo cannot be a state is a mistake. It is a damaging statement, but unfortunately it is an opinion that finds great support in an important part of the EU in Brussels, especially in the European Commission and the EU's External Action Service. And such thoughts will not bring it closer, but will only delay the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia even more.

Serbia's assertions that Kosovo's declaration of independence was a violation of international law are completely baseless and simple propaganda. There is no need for much analysis here, because the ICJ gave its opinion on this, precisely by answering the question posed by Serbia. And there is no body in this world more called to interpret international law than the ICJ. Even the fact that the UN Security Council has not recognized Kosovo is not a legal but a political act. The UNSC did not do this not because of respect for the principles of international law and democracy, but because of the violation of these principles. In the case of Kosovo, from Russia, which has misused the right of veto, not accepting either the proposal of the special envoy of the UN Secretary General (Athisaari) or the Opinion of the ICJ, which is also a body of the UN. The way Kosovo is blocked in the Security Council is international injustice and not respecting international law.

Kosovo should always be reminded of how independence was declared, who played what role. Lest it be thought that some people got carried away one day and simply decided to declare independence. Kosovo's international partners should also be reminded of this. Precisely because they have the right to demand that Kosovo not take unilateral steps, because the strengthening of the state continues to be a joint project, Kosovo also has the right to remind some partners that even they have not fully fulfilled all their obligations from that joint declaration of independence of Kosovo on February 17, 2008 according to the Ahtisaari Package. The EU, for example, has never even accepted the Ahtisaari Package, and the division that existed 16 years ago continues to exist today. And when the EU has hesitations and ambiguities in these positions, then this also affects other continents and this has made it difficult for Kosovo to strengthen its international subjectivity. The EU acts as if the majority of countries had not recognized the independence of Kosovo and the minority had recognized it. And this must change if the EU really wants the dialogue process, which the European Union is unsuccessfully facilitating, to succeed.