India studying legal issues raised by Kosovo ‘independence’


New Delh : With world opinion split on Kosovo declaring independence from Serbia, India has reacted cautiously, saying it was “studying the evolving situation” as there are “several legal issues” involved in the declaration.

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“We have taken note of the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. There are several legal issues involved in this declaration. We are studying the evolving situation,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna said here.

“It has been India’s consistent position that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be fully respected by all states,” said Sarna while reiterating India’s considered position that the Kosovo issue should have been resolved through dialogue.

“We have believed that the Kosovo issue should have been resolved through peaceful means and through consultation and dialogue between the concerned parties,” he stressed, indicating India was weighing its options on the issue of recognising Kosovo, the seventh state to emerge from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Spelling out India’s “long standing and consistent policy on the issue of recognition”, he added: “Recognition is normally accorded on the basis of a country having a defined territory, a duly constituted government in charge which is accepted by the people and which has effective control over an area of governance.”

India’s circumspection on the Kosovo issue arises from its anxieties about Kashmir, which is at the heart of the decades-long dispute between India and Pakistan.

Opinion is, however, split in the community of experts and diplomats in India. There are some who argue that India needs to be bolder and recognise Kosovo and cite alleged ethnic cleansing of people of Albanian origin in Kosovo to make the point that it’s primarily an issue of human rights and democratic assertion.

In a complaint to the United Nations, Serbia has said that Kosovo’s declaration of independence is a unilateral secession of part of its territory and “does not produce any legal effect either in the Republic of Serbia or in the international legal order”.

The global rift is widening over Kosovo’s declaration of independence by its ethnic Albanian majority. The US, Australia and the European Union’s big powers like Britain and France have recognised Kosovo as an independent nation, but influential countries like Russia and China are strongly opposed to the territory breaking away from Serbia.

The split was more than evident at the UN Security Council Sunday, the second day of an emergency session to discuss the Kosovo issue that ended without an agreement on a resolution or joint statement.