Netherlands cautious on recognising Kosovo

The Netherlands is not in favour of a hasty recognition of Kosovo as an independent state and considers the stability of the region paramount, according to foreign minister Maxime Verhagen, reports news agency ANP.

Verhagen was reacting on Sunday to the declaration of independence issued by the new Kosovo parliament. It was, he said, a ‘new reality’ requiring an ‘important decision’ which should not be taken too quickly.
The minister called on Serbians and the Kosovo people to show restraint and responsibility and asked Kosovo to make sure it protects Serbs and other minorities, ANP reported. Some 10% of the people living in Kosovo are Serbian, the majority are ethnic Albanians.
‘Before we take a decision, we must look carefully at the new constitution and the declaration of independence,’ Verhagen was reported as saying. The stability of the region is also important, he said. ‘We do not want a repeat of the violence and refugees of the 1990s.’
European ministers met on Monday to discuss a joint response to Kosovo’s declaration of independence. But Spain made a united approach impossible by declaring that it would not support independence. Spain fears that to do so could set a precedent for Basque separatists.
Germany said it was in favour of recognition but sided with the Netherlands in calling for a careful, measured approach.
According to public broadcaster NOS, the EU’s new special representative in Kosovo, Dutchman Pieter Feith has called on western countries to recognise independence as soon as possible. Feith says the new Kosovo constitution offers all the guarantees that the west could want that Kosovo will be a democratic state.

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