Canada recognizes Kosovo

Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:43pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada formally recognized the breakaway republic of Kosovo on Tuesday, a decision Serbia said was a major mistake that could encourage separatists in the province of Quebec.

Kosovo, which has a predominantly ethnic Albanian population, declared unilateral independence from Serbia last month. The United States, France, Germany and Britain have already recognized Kosovo while Russia opposes the idea.

Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said the recent history of violence and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo made it "a unique case" and implicitly warned separatists in the French-speaking province of Quebec not to draw comparisons.

"The unique circumstances which have led to Kosovo's independence mean it does not constitute any kind of precedent," Bernier said in a statement.

Dusan Batakovic, the Serbian ambassador to Ottawa, told Reuters he would "hand over a strong protest" on Wednesday before returning to Belgrade for consultations.

"I am very disappointed by this unwise decision that violates both international law and the territorial sovereignty of Serbia," he said in a telephone interview, saying the move could have implications for Canadian unity.

Provincial Quebec governments formed by the separatist Parti Quebecois held referendums on breaking away from Canada in 1980 and 1995 but both failed, the last one very narrowly.

The Parti Quebecois, now in opposition in the Quebec legislature, said last month that if Ottawa recognized a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo it would have to treat a similar move by Quebec the same way.   Continued...

<p>Belgium NATO peacekeepers stand guard in front of the police station in north Mitrovica March 18, 2008. Canada will formally recognize the breakaway ethnic republic of Kosovo later on Tuesday, the Serb embassy in Ottawa said. REUTERS/Nebojsa Markovic</p>