Kosovo and Turkey: What Lies Ahead?

Kosovo and Turkey: What Lies Ahead?

Turkey can play a complimentary and even crucial role that could actually ease the task of the European Union between Serbia and Kosovo.

Turkey can play a complimentary and even crucial role that could actually ease the task of the European Union between Serbia and Kosovo.

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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion on 22 July 2010, affirmed the legality of the Republic of Kosovo’s declaration of independence. Yet it is an unspoken truth that Kosovo needs a compromise with Serbia to receive international recognition. Turkey can contribute to bridging relations between Belgrade and Pristina by identifying ways of cooperation on technical issues concerning the living standards of all Kosovar citizens without getting entangled on the issue of recognition. Turkey can play a complimentary and even crucial role that could actually ease the task of the European Union between Serbia and Kosovo.

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Introduction When the International Court of Justice (ICJ) gave its advisory opinion and affirmed the legality of the Republic of Kosovo’s declaration of independence on 22 July 2010, Kosovo’s supporters in the international community expected an increase in the number of States recognizing its independence. This has yet to happen. It is an unspoken truth that Kosovo needs a compromise with Serbia to receive international recognition. In the immediate future such a compromise seems out of reach. The upcoming talks between Belgrade and Pristina that would be mediated by the good offices of the European Union are expected to formulate a compromise. Turkey should continue to maintain friendly relations with both countries by enhancing its role as a facilitator between the two countries. Moreover, Turkey can contribute to bridging relations between Belgrade and Pristina by identifying ways of cooperation on technical issues concerning the living standards of all Kosovar citizens without getting entangled on the issue of recognition. Turkey can play a complimentary and even crucial role that could actually ease the task of the EU.

Background: Kosovo Independence and Its Aftermath The struggle of the Albanians in Kosovo for independence is not new. At the end of the Second World War, Kosovar Albanians were forced to settle for the status of ‘province’ under the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia. Even in the best of times, the relationship between Kosovo and Belgrade remained uneasy. During the political upheaval of the 1960s, the Kosovar Albanians began to demand political and social freedoms within Yugoslavia. The 1974 Constitution gave extensive autonomy status to Kosovo, which was almost on the same level as the equal political liberties enjoyed by the six republics that formed the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia. With the death of Tito in 1980, the Yugoslav leadership initiated a gradual process of recentralizing the governing of Kosovo back to Belgrade. The 1981 Pristina University riots against the repressive policies of Belgrade and the Albanian demands for further political autonomy that followed the demonstrations were used by Milosevic as a justification and platform for his nationalist agenda as he rose to power in 1987. When Slobodan Milosevic stripped Kosovo off its constitutional autonomy in 1989, he also banned the use of the Albanian language in schools and in public institutions.

Kosovar Albanians, under the leadership of Ibrahim Rugova, responded by non-violent resistance. They set up their own parallel universities and institutions boycotting the Yugoslav ones.1 In the beginning of the nineties, Kosovo province emerged as the flashpoint of possible conflict as Yugoslavia began to disintegrate. When the republics began to declare their independence from the federation and the Yugoslav army tanks marched first

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