By Muhamet Brajshori
Will a Council of Europe (CoE) report alleging involvement of top Kosovo leaders in organ trafficking hurt the country’s chances of gaining more international recognitions? The prospect has some in Pristina worried.
Hoping to forestall the possibility, the Kosovo New Alliance party has engaged lobbying companies to make sure Kosovo’s side of the story is heard. Its leader, Ibrahim Gashi, is confident that more recognitions are on the way.
“I will not mention states, but there is a group of countries which are on the way to recognise Kosovo soon,” he said.
Former businessman Behghet Pacolli — who effectively must step down as Kosovo’s president after the constitutional court ruled against him Wednesday (March 30th) — brought in 20% of the recognitions Kosovo has received since 2008, Gashi claims.
This year, Kosovo, has been recognised by Qatar, Guinea-Bissau and Oman, bringing the overall number to 75.
European Integration Minister Vlora Citaku is cautiously optimistic.
“The process of recognition has been slow, and we are not happy with that. But we hope this will change and countries will take the decision to recognise us,” she told SETimes.
Analysts acknowledge that the country is experiencing fallout from controversies that have damaged its image internationally.
“The negative reports about Kosovo in the world media and from important institutions like the CoE put a big question mark on the state of Kosovo,” Ardian Arifay of the Pristina Foreign Policy Club said. “Consequently, it will be more difficult to convince someone why should they recognise the state of Kosovo.”
Moreover, Arifay added, Kosovo has suffered from the lack of a coherent strategy. As a result, it was unable to make the most of favourable developments — let alone respond to unfavourable ones.
“Recognitions are not understood as a primary responsibility of the Kosovo institutions,” he told SETimes. “The lack of new recognitions following the International Court of Justice verdict [on Kosovo independence] shows that the Foreign Ministry and Kosovo institutions were generally unprepared, lacking a strategy in this momentum for the benefit of Kosovo.”
Former Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni says the government had reason to believe more recognitions would be forthcoming after the world court had found Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence did not violate international law.
“I had received a number of promises by representatives of different states,” he said.
Besides the Marty report, Kosovo’s image may also have been hurt by alleged irregularities during the last round of elections. A revote had to be held in some districts because of the complaints.
“Some countries might see [the irregularities] a reason to delay the recognition for a period” Gashi said.
Edmond Haxhinasto, foreign minister of neighbouring Albania, believes that despite setbacks the momentum is clearly on Kosovo’s side.
“I would say the decision of Qatar and Guinea-Bissau to recognise Kosovo are very important, and I believe those countries will be followed by other countries which will take into consideration the peace and stability that the independence of Kosovo provides,” he said.
“The independence of Kosovo is an irreversible and an unstoppable process,” Haxhinasto said.