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Cyprus ‘consistent’ on Kosovo non-recognition

plenary chamber of the council of europe's palace of europe 2014 01
File photo: Plenary chamber of the Council of Europe

Cyprus is “remaining consistent in its long-standing positions” on the matter of Kosovo, foreign ministry spokesman Theodoros Gotsis said on Thursday.

He was speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) in the aftermath of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace)’s recommendation that Kosovo’s application to join the Council of Europe be accepted.

He said the government is “fully committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states”, and therefore “does not recognise unilaterally declared independence.”

This position was expressed at the Council of Europe through the positions of the Cypriot representatives at the Pace,” he added.

He pointed out that at the same time, the government “fully supports dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina which is facilitated by the European Union,” and added that the final decision on Kosovo’s membership or otherwise of the Council of Europe will be made by its Committee of Ministers.

Cyprus is represented at the Committee of Ministers by Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos, who, given Cyprus’ historical position on the matter, would be expected to vote against Kosovan membership.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Gotsis confirmed that a vote on the matter will take place at the Committee of Ministers in May, and that it will require a two thirds majority of ministers, 32 countries, to pass.

While he refrained from explicitly saying that Cyprus would vote against Kosovan membership in May, he reaffirmed that Cyprus’ position on the matter is “longstanding and unwavering”.

Both of Cyprus’ MPs who were present at Tuesday’s Pace meeting voted against recommending that Kosovo become a member of the Council of Europe, but those against the motion were outnumbered 131 to 29.

Speaking after casting his vote against the motion, Akel MP George Loucaides said Kosovo’s potential accession to the Council of Europe “does not serve the goal of peace, security, and stability in the western Balkans.”

He added that such a development could “further fuel tension and lead to the rise of nationalism in this highly troubled region.”

He added that Kosovo’s Council of Europe membership entails “the risk of creating a negative precedent as other illegal separatist entities may seek international recognition.”

Diko MP Christiana Erotokritou said her position was “a matter of principle”, that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of internationally recognised states should never be compromised.”

She added, “the acceptance of the inclusion into the Council of Europe of entities which have unilaterally declared independence and are not member states of the United Nations sets a dangerous precedent, particularly in today’s highly volatile international environment.”

Cyprus’ third representative, Disy’s Nikos Tornaritis, was not present.

The resolution that passed invited Kosovo to join the Council of Europe and to allocate the country three seats in the Pace – the same as Cyprus.

The bill did acknowledge the “unprecedented circumstances of this application, as a number of Council of Europe member states do not recognise Kosovo as a state.”

To this end, it reads, “diplomacy, dialogue, and compromise are necessary to ensure that the prospective admission of Kosovo does not create a fracture in the unity of Council of Europe member states.”

It recommended therefore that Kosovo’s Council of Europe membership be accepted “without prejudice to individual member states; positions as regard the statehood of Kosovo.”

In addition, it reads, “member states, irrespective of the position they may express in relation to Kosovo’s membership application, [must] respect the decision made … and collaborate sincerely and effectively in its implementation.”

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