NEW YORK (RFE/RL)–Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni urged Armenia to recognize the mostly Albanian-populated territory’s independence from Serbia when he met with his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, in New York late on Wednesday.
The two men held talks there on the fringes of the ongoing session of the UN General Assembly.
According to RFE/RL’s Balkan service, Hyseni called for a formal Armenian recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. He pointed to a July ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that upheld the legality of its secession from Serbia.
Hyseni said that the ruling as well as a recent General Assembly resolution welcoming it meant that Armenia and other countries no longer have “any reason to delay with the recognition of the new country.”
According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Nalbandian reaffirmed Yerevan’s positive reaction to the non-binding ICJ judgment. A ministry statement quoted him as saying that the UN court thereby made clear that peoples’ right to self-determination to “can not be subordinate to any other principle.”
Armenian leaders hope that the ruling will strengthen their case for similar international recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. They have repeatedly described it as “unprecedented.”
Still, Armenia has been in no rush to recognize Kosovo’s independence, not least because Russia, its closest ally, is strongly opposed to that. Nalbandian on Wednesday gave no indication that his government may soon reconsider this cautious line. He was reported to say only that Yerevan will continue “useful” contacts with Kosovar leaders.
Serbia lost control of Kosovo in 1999 when a NATO bombing campaign brought an end to a war between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian separatists in the region. UN Security Council Resolution 1244 set up a temporary UN administration for Kosovo. Although the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) still exists, it has had a minor role since 2008.
On February 17, 2008, Kosovo’s newly elected ethnic Albanian lawmakers and president issued their unilateral declaration of independence — a move contested by Belgrade as a violation of international law and of Serbia’s territorial integrity. Kosovo’s independence has been recognized by 69 countries — including the United States and many European Union member states.