Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama (R) and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) welcome Kosovo's President Vjosa Osmani (C) ahead of the 'Peace summit' in Tirana, Albania, 28 February 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE/MALTON DIBRA

Kosovo’s President Cautious Over Ukraine Recognition

Representing Kosovo at a high-level summit between South-East Europe and Ukraine in Tirana, Albania, President Vjosa Osmani said that she is convinced the recognition from Ukraine will come “together with Ukraine’s victory” against Russian invasion.

Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani said on Wednesday that she will not press her Ukrainian counterpart on the recognition of Kosovo while Ukraine is defending itself from the full-scale Russian invasion.

“These are bilateral issues, we have always made such a request and we will continue to do so, with the full understanding that Ukraine is in a state of emergency, in a state of war, fighting for its freedom and its independence”, replied Osmani when asked by journalists in Tirana if she would demand recognition from Zelenskyy.

“I am convinced that this moment will come together with Ukraine’s victory,” she added.

Drawing parallels between the war in Ukraine and Kosovo’s 1998-99 armed resistance, Osmani said “we’ve been victims of genocide ourselves and in that time we needed a helping hand”. “Now we are giving back.”   

Osmani was part of the summit alongside leaders of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria. The south-east European leaders approved a joint statement at the summit in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and called on the international community “to increase support for Ukraine in its fight for freedom, independence and territorial integrity”.

President Osmani said that she was at the summit to talk about the concrete steps that Kosovo has taken to condemn the invasion launched by Moscow in Ukraine in 2022 and to support Kyiv.

“We are here to recommit once again not just to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, but also to recommit to the values for which we stand together, the values of freedom, independence, rules based in an international order”, Osmani said.

President Zelenskyy warned that Western Balkans countries are in danger due to Russia’s influence.

“Balkan countries should be together. Russia will do something to destabilise [the situation]. It has not swallowed what is happening in Ukraine and will try to use tactics to increase its influence,” Zelenskyy told media in a press conference in Tirana after the summit.

Kosovo aligned itself with EU sanctions against Russia, repeatedly adopting new measures as the EU has added to its sanctions package. These policies have been adopted despite the absence of bilateral relations between Prishtina and Kyiv. Ukraine does not recognise Kosovo’s independence.

In March 2022 the Kosovo government abolished the visa regime for Ukrainian citizens. Thus far, few Ukrainians have travelled to the small Balkan state. Kosovo’s Ministry of Internal Affairs did not respond to BIRN’s requests for figures on Ukrainian citizens entering Kosovo over the past two years.

Since April 2022, Prishtina has hosted 18 Ukrainian journalists as part of a government-financed programme to offer them refuge. At the beginning of their stay, they were granted 1,000 euros to assist their relocation, as well as a 500-euro monthly stipend and 300 euros per month for rent.

28/02/2024 - 17:45

28 February 2024 - 17:45

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