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News 27 May 13

Kosovo Angry Over Macedonia Summit Snub

Kosovo officials expressed anger after they weren't invited to take part in the South-East European Cooperation Process summit in Macedonia, mostly due to objections from Serbia.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Kosovo accused Macedonia of being “anti-European” after Skopje did not invite its President Atifete Jahjaga to the regional meeting of heads of state, prime ministers and parliamentary speakers this week.

“Despite my efforts in communicating with Macedonia’s [foreign minister Nikola] Poposki, they did not extend an invitation. This is a real concern for Kosovo-Macedonia relations, it goes against the spirit of regional cooperation and represents anti-European behaviour,” said Kosovo’s foreign minister Enver Hoxhaj on Sunday.

Macedonia insisted that it wanted to invite Kosovo but could not, and expressed hope that it might be possible on some other occasion in the future.

“Macedonia wished to invite Kosovo as a guest,” the presidential office in Skopje said.

But, it explained, “in line with the founding acts [of the conference] and prior practice, Macedonia cannot extend an invitation without others’ consent, especially when we are told that certain member states would cancel their participation as a result of that step”.

It added that more than one country objected to Kosovo's attendance.

Media have speculated that as well as Serbia, Bosnia and Romania also disagreed with inviting Kosovo.

Macedonia recognised the independence of neighbouring Kosovo in 2008, despite objections from Serbia. Belgrade insists that Kosovo is part of its own territory.

Macedonia has strong economic ties with both, but despite initial discontent in Belgrade, the move did not cause long-term harm to relations with Serbia.

Macedonia was under pressure to recognise Kosovo since a quarter of its population consists of ethnic Albanians.

The 16th summit of heads of states and prime ministers of the South-East European Cooperation Process, SEECP is due to take place on June 1 in the lakeside town of Ohrid.

The tenth conference of the heads of SEECP member’s parliaments is also opening on Monday, with Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Slovenia all sending representatives.

The meeting of parliamentary speakers is to focus on ways to overcome the effects of the economic crisis and will also be attended by the vice-president of the European Parliament, Laszlo Surjan, and the head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Wolfgang Grossruck.

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