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Malta should recognise Kosovo - Tonio Borg

The government believes it should recognise Kosovo as an independent country, something that has already been done by 43 nations, including 20 in the European Union.

Foreign Affairs Minister Tonio Borg told the European and Foreign Affairs Committee that the seven EU countries which had not yet recognised Kosovo had internal ethnic problems, except for Malta and Portugal. Although it has not yet recognised Kosovo, Portugal has already declared that it will.

Kosovo, Dr Borg said, had not just formed a government but had a Constitution and he personally, as well as the government, believed Malta should recognise Kosovo as a new state.

Recognition would bring its problems. It was difficult, for example, to imagine Kosovo as a member of the UN because Russia, and probably also China, would exert their veto to prohibit this.

The case of Kosovo, Dr Borg said, was unique in an international context. Malta should not be the last EU country to recognise Kosovo and it was good to recognise this new state at this point, now that a new Serbian government was being formed.

Labour MPs George Vella and Leo Brincat both said they did not have a particular position for or against the recognition of Kosovo as a state.

Dr Vella said that with the situation of Kosovo he was seeing a repetition of what had taken place in the EU with the membership of Greece, Portugal and Spain. The membership of these countries had been hastened in a bid to anchor them in democracy.

He pointed out that in spite of Kosovo's unilateral declaration, there were already boiling spots in the north going against the declaration.

He asked whether Malta was convinced that Kosovo was sustainable as a state. Would it be able to stand on its feet, he asked, warning that political or economic instability would bring a greater chance of unrest.

The more Malta sought to help hasten the Balkan states' membership of Europe, the quicker problems would be ironed out.

Mr Brincat said he was afraid that a state was being created on a purely-ethnic basis. There were concerns that recognition could undermine international law and reduce the prospects of long-term peace. He hoped that time would prove him wrong.

Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami said he believed that what was currently taking place in Kosovo was a continuation of the process of fragmentation of the former Yugoslavia, which had kept several races together in an artificial manner. He said that if Malta recognised Kosovo as a state it would be doing justice to Kosovo and facilitating its international recognition.

Nationalist MP Charlo' Bonnici asked what the repercussions would be if Kosovo was not recognised by the United Nations.

Committee chairman Michael Frendo said the matter was a complex one and should be treaded carefully and wisely. Malta had been careful, this was a new situation and never before had a country been born without a UN resolution.

Although the EU had no right to direct any of its members to recognise a new state, it would take a unilateral decision to continue stabilising Kosovo because stability in the Balkans was an overriding interest.

He proposed that when Malta recognised Kosovo, it should, in support of Cyprus whose northern part was occupied, point out the unique situation of Kosovo in its declaration of recognition.

Dr Borg said he would be taking up Dr Frendo's suggestion in support of both Cyprus and Spain, which were among Malta's greatest friends in the EU.

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