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News 28 Oct 15

Romania Sticks to its Tough Line on Kosovo

Romania says the EU's decision to sign a stability pact with Kosovo will not result in Romania recognising Kosovo's statehood.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest
Romanian foreign ministry says the EU's decision to sign a stability pact with Kosovo will not result in Romania recognising Kosovo's statehood

Romania's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday told BIRN that the EU's new pact with Kosovo will not result in Romania recognising the country.

A statement to BIRN said: "The EU signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Kosovo does not influence Romania’s position on Kosovo and does not mean its recognition as a state.

“The agreement was signed only between Kosovo and the European Union, in its own name, without the participation of member states. So, Romania will not sign and will not ratify the agreement,” it added.

The EU signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Kosovo on Tuesday in Strasbourg.

The benefits of the SAA for Kosovo will mainly be in the field of trade as Kosovo's exports will now enjoy better access to the European market.

The EU proposed SAA negotiations with Kosovo after it signed a major agreement on the normalisation of relations with Serbia in 2012.

Kosovo was the only country in the region that had not signed an SAA with the EU.

The EU's procedure with Kosovo was different in order to avoid problems with the five EU member states that do not recognise Kosovo's independence - Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus.

Therefore, the agreement was signed by the EU as a single entity and not individually with the respective states.

Kosovo was formerly a province of Serbia, which still resents and contests its declaration of independence in 2008.

One reason why Romania has not recognised Kosovo is because the country has a sizeable, restive ethnic minority if its own.

About 7 per cent of Romania’s 19.5 million citizens are ethnic Hungarians. Many Romanians fear that recognising Kosovo’s independence might encourage the Hungarian minority in Transylvania to strive for the same result.

In reality, few ethnic Hungarians seriously harbour dreams of their own state. But some members of the community, especially the 600,000 so-called Szeklers, have long sought an autonomous region in Transylvania, which is enough to alarm the Romanians. Transylania formed part of Hungary until the end of the First World War.

Romanian officials also maintain that the unilateral creation of a new state in the Balkans has raised tensions in the region, and that those behind it ought not to be rewarded.

Despite not recognizing Kosovo’s independence, Romania joined the EU-led security mission in Kosovo from the beginning, deploying a contingent of around 175 police and gendarmes to help maintain order and security there.

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