This week marks the 13th anniversary of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia. The declaration came about a decade after the Serbian authorities launched an ethnic cleansing that aimed to eradicate the Albanian majority population of its then-province. A full-fledged genocide was stopped in 1999 by NATO’s intervention.
Since 2008, the Republic of Kosovo has joined international organizations, has become a vital part of the international community, and has been a key factor of stability in the Balkans. In terms of democratic standards, Kosovo fares better than some of its neighbors, as evidenced by its latest exemplary elections. It is time for Athens to finally join the more than 100 countries that recognize its irreversible independence.
Doing so would advance Greek interests and elevate Athens’ diplomatic clout. Not only Greece would offer an important contribution to peace and regional stability, but it would also be an important gesture to nurture closer Greek-Albanian ties.
This month, Israel established full diplomatic relations with Kosovo, in a move widely supported and coordinated by the United States. Greece has the opportunity to follow Israel’s example and finally establish full bilateral ties with the Republic of Kosovo.
Despite repeated attempts by Serbia and its allies to contest the legitimacy of Kosovo’s sovereignty, it independence was upheld by the International Court of Justice. In its 2010 Advisory Opinion, the court noted that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not circumvent or break any international law, attesting to its international legality.
Kosovo’s diplomatic ties with Israel countered, once again, the assumption that its independence serves as a dangerous precedent for secessionist movements. The five EU members states that still refuse to acknowledge an independent Kosovo, including Greece, have indirectly hidden behind this argument.