Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Saying 'No' to Kosovo independence

Four EU countries, Romania, Cyprus, Slovakia and Spain, have refused to recognise Kosovo as an independent state.

Here, Euro MPs from all four countries explain their concerns about Kosovo's step forward.

Click on the links below to read what they have to say.

Irena Belohorska, Slovak MEP

Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, Cypriot MEP

Manuel Medina Ortega, Spanish MEP Jean-Marian Marinescu, Romanian MEP

Slovakia has said it may never recognise Kosovo, mindful of its own heavy loss of territory to Hungary and Germany in 1938-39.

Irena Belohorska is an independent MEP.

In a way, this situation presents a threat to the notion of a common foreign policy under the Lisbon treaty which foresees a united European strategy in the field of foreign policy.

Irena Belohorska, Independent Slovak MEP (courtesy Photo European Parliament)

A unilateral declaration of independence which is established by secession from a sovereign state sets a very dangerous precedent.

In this regard, my mind goes back to 1992, when I was a member of the Czechoslovak federal parliament.

At that time, because of anxiety as to how the situation could develop, politicians on both sides preferred to have a peaceful agreement.

The same scenario could be seen in the case of the unification of Germany. However, in Germany's case, there was one nation in two artificial states.

For Slovakia, there were two different nations in one state.

The evening after the vote on the separation of Czechoslovakia, we thanked each other for the times as a common state. And we promised each other that we would not tolerate any manifestation of hatred or similar acts.

Legalising the politics of extremist movements... presents a threat to the idea of a united Europe.
Irena Belohorska, Slovak MEP

I hope that the situation in Kosovo can be resolved with similar peace and understanding, and without violence.

Ten per cent of Slovakia's population is ethnic Hungarian. However, no parallel can be drawn between the situation of the Hungarian minority and Kosovo.

Slovakia's Hungarian minority enjoys extensive minority rights, including representation in the national and European Parliament.

The case of Kosovo opens a Pandora's box in the process of European integration.

Legalising the politics of extremist movements - for example in Corsica, the Basque region, Ireland, and the Flemish part of Belgium - presents a threat to the idea of a united Europe.

Greek Cypriots fear independence for Kosovo could act as a precedent for Turkish Northern Cyprus.

But Cypriot MEP Kyriacos Triantaphyllides argues that the status of northern Cyprus is quite different from Kosovo. He is from the party of communist President Demetris Christofias.

One of the self-proclaimed aims of the European Union is better governance on a global scale.

So it is pertinent to ask oneself how the unilateral proclamation of independence by a province of a sovereign state really furthers that aim.

Kyriacos Triantaphyllides Cypriot AKEL MEP (courtesy Photo European Parliament)

By rushing to congratulate and recognise the independence of the province, some member states have forgotten the basic principles of international law and have thus committed a cardinal sin: putting might over right.

This will probably have dire consequences in the future and could lead us back a couple of hundred years, when Europe was comprised of small, fragmented regions.

The actions of the European Union are debatable.

After having fuelled the expectations of Kosovans for a long time, and having practically driven them to independence, the EU is now called upon to live up to its unwritten promise: future integration in the EU family.

As far as Cyprus is concerned, the election of a new President has turned things around
Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, Cypriot MEP

However, with the GDP of Kosovo equivalent to that of Rwanda; with half the active population unemployed; with more than 200,000 refugees and displaced people and with a multiplication of violence against minorities, this will prove a very hard task indeed.

And all this despite two billion euros of international aid and the presence of 17,000 Nato soldiers.

I understand, but certainly do not share, the urge of some member states to create a new protectorate.

It is difficult to acknowledge that the lessons of the Yugoslav failure have not been heeded.

Whilst many would believe that Kosovo's independence would push other areas with similar movements to do the same, that is not the case.

As far as Cyprus is concerned, the election of a new president has turned things around as he has repeatedly said that he will look for a just solution that will unite the island, something that is completely the opposite of what is happening in Kosovo.

Spain is concerned with separatists in the Basque region and other areas - Catalonia, Valencia and Galicia - are pushing for further autonomy.

Manuel Medina Ortega is a Spanish Socialist MEP.

The declaration of independence by the Albanian authorities of the province of Kosovo constitutes a violation of international law and is a threat to the security of the entire Balkan region.

Manuel Medina Ortega Spanish Socialist MEP (courtesy Photo European Parliament)

Earlier secessions from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were made on the basis of an international agreement which determined the borders and the status of the seceding state.

They complied with the Yugoslav constitution which authorised each federated republic to separate.

Kosovo was a province, not a federal republic, and under the Yugoslav constitution it did not have the right to secede.

UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which approved the intervention by Nato forces to protect the Albanian population against the ethnic cleansing operations of the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosevic, foresaw the adoption of a new UN resolution to determine the future status of the province.

The UN has not adopted such resolution. Two permanent members of the Security Council - China and Russia - have stated instead their opposition to the unilateral declaration of independence.

This is an invitation to civil war and may cause international litigation.
Manuel Medina Ortega, Spanish MEP

Under the Serbian constitution and international law, the Serbian authorities have the right and the duty to be present in Kosovo in order to preserve peace and protect the population of the province.

The unilateral declaration of independence gives legitimacy to another set of authorities with headquarters in Pristina, which would also be entitled to preserve law and order in Kosovo.

This is an invitation to civil war and may cause international litigation.

The after-effects of the unilateral declaration of independence cannot be foreseen at this moment.

There are other territorial entities in the area with claims to secession, such as the Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Srpska), Trans-Dniester, Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia, among others.

The international community and the European Union may face future crises resulting from political entities which follow the example of Kosovo.

Thus, the seeds for future trouble have been sown once more in the fields of Kosovo.

Romania is concerned about pro-Russian separatists in neighbouring Moldova and has its own large ethnic Hungarian minority.

Jean-Marian Marinescu is a Romanian Democrat MEP.

Ever since the highly-spirited debate on Kosovo started, Romania has publicly stated and maintained its position, not to recognise the independence of the secessionist province of Kosovo.

The multitude of reasons behind this stance can be reduced to two: the illegality of the decision and the precedent it sets.

First of all, in the absence of a UN Security Council Resolution, I believe that the violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a country cannot be accepted.

Marian-Jean Marinescu Romanian Democrat MEP (courtesy Photo European Parliament)

Serbia is also Romania's neighbour and Kosovo is in the close vicinity.

Kosovo's independence could generate Serbia's isolation which would then hamper, among other things, EU enlargement policy in the region.

Secondly, Kosovo independence creates a dangerous precedent likely to affect countries with frozen conflicts dating farther back even than the Kosovo conflict itself, such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Trans-Dniester.

Furthermore, I am concerned that Kosovo is in fact dependent on international missions to assure its security, justice and police control in the territory on the one hand, and on good ties with Serbia to ensure (mainly) its economic development on the other.

I think the European Union has great responsibility in this situation and it is imperative to watch very carefully the development in the region and act accordingly.

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