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11 Mar 11 Arab Spring “Unlikely” to Spell Recognitions for Kosovo

The overthrow of long-standing supporters of Serbia in the Arab world is unlikely to lead to new recognitions for Kosovo, experts have cautioned.

Lawrence Marzouk Pristina

Many of the rapidly tumbling regimes of North Africa and Middle East were members of the Non-Aligned Movement, the brainchild of Yugoslav Communist leader Josip Broz Tito.

This, combined with the preponderance of internal separatist movements in the area, has stymied Kosovo’s hope that the Muslim world would embrace it. Just six countries from the region have recognised Kosovo’s independence to date.

But revolution in the Arab world is unlikely to lead to a warming of relations with the world’s youngest country, according to Anna Gilmour, Editor of Jane's Intelligence Review.

“The regime changes in North Africa since January are unlikely to have altered the stance towards recognising Kosovo, particularly given that in Egypt and Tunisia the higher echelons of government remain largely unchanged, despite the departures of [ousted Tunisian President] Ben Ali and [ousted Egyptian President] Mubarak,” she told Prishtina Insight.

“Moreover, as Libya has historically been divided between the hostile east and west, endorsement of a successful separatist movement could prove domestically controversial, regardless of the outcome of the current uprising.”

Afrim Hoti, Professor of international law at Prishtina University, sounds a slightly more optimistic note, although he believes that it is too early to determine what the changes will mean for Kosovo.

He said: “The changes in North Africa and other countries are not yet clear. In the best case, the dissatisfaction and revolts have been led by forces that are fighting dictatorship and would like to turn the country into western democracies, democratic rule.

“Then, there are hopes that Kosovo can benefit from this situation.”

But he fears that the situation may in fact worsen if Islamic fundamentalists seize control.

“In the worst scenario, those forces have been led by elements supported or influenced by Islamic fundamentalism and, in that case, Kosovo will not benefit.

The Non-Aligned Movement was founded in Belgrade in 1961, and was largely the brainchild of Yugoslavia's President, Josip Broz Tito, India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt's second President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah, and Indonesia's first President, Sukarno.

With the fall of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe, the movement has struggled to remain relevant.
Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was unavailable for comment.

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