Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Kosovo

Delivered in Plenary - 20th February 2008

Mr President

I fail to see the rush to resolve the Kosovo issue, circumventing the UN and ignoring current international law. I believe that Kosovo’s new nationhood will be difficult, with no obvious exit strategy for the EU, whose presence will be long term, given a hostile Serbia next door and the prevalence of organised crime. Independent Kosovo’s acceptance by Russia and China, who are on the UN Security Council, is very unlikely in the foreseeable future.

We have now managed successfully to injure a Serbia trying to forget Milošević and build a democratic future. Its loss may fan nationalist sentiments and drive Serbia towards Russia, which, in turn, may apply the precedence of the Kosovo situation in frozen conflicts ranging from Transnistria to Abkhazia. Russia will, interestingly, now claim the moral high ground in international law – perhaps for the first time in recent history.

I have considerable sympathy with Cyprus, which has refused to join the majority of EU Member States in recognising Kosovo. Already, Mr Talat, the leader of the so-called ‘breakaway republic of Northern Cyprus’ claims Kosovo as a precedent for his territory. As an aside to Mr Howitt – UN talks also failed over the unification of Cyprus, so that issue is not unique to this case.

Not surprisingly, Spain is concerned about the Basque Country and Catalonia, and Slovakia about its Hungarian minority. Curiously, although the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has welcomed an independent Kosovo as a potential new member, Azerbaijan, although in the OIC, is wary over Nagorno-Karabakh claiming independence and refuses to recognise Kosovo.

Therefore, whatever the EU and the US are saying about this issue being sui generis, clearly not all the countries of the world agree.