Why the recognition of Kosovo is being withdrawn and what are the consequences?

Source: tviter

In the last fifteen years, 27 countries had decided to withdraw the recognition of Kosovo's independence, according to the Serbian authorities in Belgrade, RFE reports.

The withdrawal of recognition is an "irregular international act", which has multiple consequences for Kosovo, an expert in international law, Gezim Visoka says.

On January 16, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Togo, Robert Dussey, announced the withdrawal of recognition of Kosovo, after a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Ivica Dacic.
According to the claims of the official Belgrade, Togo - a country in West Africa - was not the only one that had made such a decision.

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, said at the beginning of January that nine other countries had decided to do the same.

Radio Free Europe addressed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora of Kosovo on this issue, but by the time the text had been published, no response had arrived.

When is it possible to withdraw recognition?

Gezim Visoka, professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Dublin in Ireland, describes the withdrawal of recognition of independence as a "disorganized international act", which, he says, is not well regulated in international law, i.e. "leave room for doubts, misunderstandings, but also manipulation".

He explains that withdrawing the recognition of a country's independence only makes sense in cases where circumstances have changed since the recognition of independence – for example, when one country merges with another or loses territory.

In this context, he states that the declaration of independence - which the International Court of Justice found in 2010 not to be contrary to international law - has not changed.

He assesses that the withdrawal of recognition is a consequence of the campaign led by Serbia.

"Essentially, the withdrawal of recognition does not come as a result of the will of the country that has withdrawn recognition, but comes as a product of pressure from the former home or base state, which uses the withdrawal of recognition as an instrument to blackmail, undermine and harm the new state or the state before recognition," Visoka says for RFE.

Togo recognized the independence of Kosovo in 2014, at the time when the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo was Enver Hoxhaj from the Democratic Party of Kosovo.

The current head of diplomacy of Togo, Robert Dussey, supported Hoxhaj's candidacy in the elections for Prime Minister of Kosovo in 2021.

Hoxhaj says that after 2021 he had no contact with Dussey, and he blames the current Government of Kosovo for withdrawing the recognition.

"For the last two years, Kosovo has not developed diplomatic communication or bilateral visits at all, at a time when Serbia is conducting a dirty campaign against Kosovo. Therefore, the withdrawal of recognition is also happening," Hoxhaj told RFE/RL.

Kosovo's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Donika Gervalla, stated on January 16 that the withdrawal of recognition of Kosovo from Togo "happened in 2019", and that Kosovo diplomats had intensified meetings with their colleagues who had come from countries that Serbia claimed had withdrawn recognition of Kosovo.

For years, Serbia has been campaigning for the withdrawal of recognition of Kosovo.

The one-year moratorium from the Washington Agreement, by which Serbia undertook to stop the campaign, and Kosovo to not seek admission to international organizations, expired in September 2021.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Ivica Dacic, said earlier that Belgrade's goal was for the number of countries that recognized Kosovo to fall below half of the members of the United Nations, i.e. below 193.

On the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo, there is a list of 117 countries that claim to recognize the independence of Kosovo. Among them is Togo.

Visoka states that countries with a developed democracy and tradition in diplomacy do not use the practice of withdrawing recognition, and as an example, he cites the approach of Western countries in relation to Iran, which, despite disagreements, did not withdraw recognition.

"In most cases, there was a withdrawal of recognition from about 15 to 20 countries, which are mostly post-colonial countries, which do not have a long diplomatic tradition and are known for their changing foreign policy, which they change depending on the financial, economic, even military aid they receive. from regional or international powers," Visoka says.

According to him, this was precisely the reason why Egypt "froze" the decision on the recognition of Kosovo.

However, Visoka indicates that even freezing the relationship can have consequences.

"The freezing of recognition is like an act that sends signals, then you negotiate because the process can be reversed, “ Visoka explains and adds that these withdrawals of recognition are then used to blackmail the Kosovo side, to make compromises in the dialogue for the normalization of relations with Serbia, with the mediation of the European Union.

What are the consequences of withdrawing recognition?

International law expert Gezim Visoka states that Serbia started a campaign to withdraw recognition in 2017, in order to put pressure on Kosovo because it refused to implement the Agreement on the formation of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities.

The agreement on the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities was reached within the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and is a stumbling block in the continuation of the process of normalization of relations. While Belgrade insists that it should be realized, Pristina refuses with the explanation that it is not in accordance with the Constitution of Kosovo.

"In a certain way, it was diplomatic aggression and pressure from Serbia, it is used as a diplomatic weapon to show Kosovo that if it does not make concessions or compromises, it may face withdrawal of recognition, lose international recognition and cease to exist as an independent state," Visoka says.

Enver Hoxhaj, a member of the Assembly of Kosovo from the Democratic Party of Kosovo, says that Kosovo risks membership in international organizations because recognition means votes for Kosovo.

"It's a big blow to the sovereignty of Kosovo, it's a wild campaign by Serbia, which is happening at different levels and it's the last chance for the Government [Prime Minister Albin] Kurti to draw up an action plan, a strategy and to go wherever Serbia claims that it can reach new withdrawals or prevent them," Hoxhaj says.

Visoka estimates that withdrawals of recognition can be even more massive.

"The more withdrawals of recognition happen - there will be more of them. That's a bad thing, they have a certain effect like a snowball – when that process starts, it can turn in an undesirable direction," Visoka concludes.