Finland prepares to recognise Kosovo independence
EU resolution allows member states to decide on recognising new country - some EU countries oppose independence
Sunday's declaration of independence by Kosovo has split the countries of the European Union into a large majority in favour of recognising the new country, and a small minority that are opposed to it.
As many as 22 of the 27 member states of the EU announced on Monday that they recognise Kosovo's independence. Each EU member state will decide on its own whether or not to recognise Kosovo.
At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, the large member states, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany and Italy, said that they would grant recognition to Kosovo already this week.
Spain, apparently fearing the implications of the move as a precedent for the Basque territories, says that it will not recognise Kosovo. Cyprus takes a very negative view of Kosovo's independence, while Greece, Romania, and Slovakia are hesitant.
The foreign ministers nevertheless agreed on a unanimous statement, making note of the declaration of independence and emphasising the importance of the protection of minorities.
In the view of Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Ilkka Kanerva (Nat. Coalition Party), the statement gives a basis for recognising Kosovo.
Finland is prepared to recognise Kosovo soon. Foreign Minister Kanerva says that the process will nevertheless take a while, because the President is travelling, and formal approval for the recognition of a country is made by the President.
Kanerva says that Finland plans to provide EUR 15 million for the economic development of Kosovo over the next four years.
Kanerva praised the work of former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari in the drafting of the Kosovo plan. "It has been the only map and compass", Kanerva said.
The European Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, urged a step-by-step approach in the Kosovo question. The EU's joint statement and possible recognitions of Kosovo's independence are the first step.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Kosovo Albanian immigrants celebrate independence in Helsinki (18.2.2008)
Finland to give rapid recognition to Kosovo (13.2.2008)
Kanerva: Finland ready for new tasks in Kosovo (11.1.2008)