Kosovo Falls Three Votes Short in UNESCO Bid

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Nov. 9, 2015 –  NATO members Spain and Slovakia were among the countries on Monday that voted against Kosovo’s bid to join UNESCO while the United States and Israel were banned from voting because of non-payment of dues to the organization.

Pristina needed 95 votes for admission to the Paris-based UNESCO but fell three votes short of the target with Balkan neighbors Bosnia among the abstaining countries along with EU members Greece, Poland and Romania.

Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt and Tunisia were also among the countries that abstained.

The BRICS countries all voted against Kosovo’s application as did Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and EU member Cyprus.

Serbia, which vigorously opposed the Kosovo bid, voted for Palestine’s 2012 application to join UNESCO, which may be why Palestine voted against Kosovo’s request.

Cyprus, Spain and Morocco likely voted No because of the situations regarding Northern Cyprus, Catalonia and Western Sahara respectively.

The United States stopped its funding to UNESCO after Palestine’s admission, as did Israel.

Iran, Iraq and Ukraine were among the countries that did not attend Monday’s vote.

The recorded vote was 92 in favor, 50 against and 29 abstentions.

Voting NO on Kosovo’s admission to UNESCO: South Africa, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, China, Cyprus, Congo, Cuba, Ecuador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Russian Federation, Georgia, Guatemala, Equatorial Guinea, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritius, Mozambique, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Uganda, Palestine, Paraguay, Philippines, Syria, Moldova, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Lao, People’s Democratic Republic (North) Korea, Serbia, Slovakia, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Voting YES for admission of Kosovo to UNESCO: Afghanistan, Albania, Germany, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chad, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, East Timor, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Latvia, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malawi, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Palaos, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Qatar, the Dominican Republic, Tanzania, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, UAE, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Yemen.

Abstention countries: Algeria, Bangladesh, Barbuda, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Egypt, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Central African Republic, Republic of (South) Korea, Romania, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Vietnam, Zambia.

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Kosovo Says Seeking UNESCO Membership

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July 22, 2015 – Serbia has vowed to fight any move by Kosovo to join the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci announced on his Facebook page late last week that he expects Pristina’s application to join the organization will be voted on in November though no formal application has been submitted yet, according to UNESCO.

Sapo aplikuam për anëtarësi në UNESCO, agjencionin e OKB për arsim, shkencë dhe kulturë. Ky veprim vjen pas një…

Posted by Hashim Thaçi on Thursday, July 16, 2015

 

The move to join UNESCO, which is responsible for promoting press freedom, defending freedom of expression, and preserving cultural artifacts, is reminiscent of Palestine’s 2011 successful bid to join the organization.

Like Palestine, Kosovo is not a UN member state and veto-wielding Russia is sure to block any future bid, but the country is recognized by 108 United Nations member states. To join UNESCO it will need the support of a simple majority of the Paris-based organization’s 195 member states (besides Palestine, Niue is also UNESCO member but not a UN member state). Palestine’s bid to join UNESCO received 107 votes in support.

As it stands, representatives from Kosovo are allowed speak at UN Security Council meetings on Kosovo but behind a nameplate that lists the speaker’s name, not the country – as it is not a recognized UN member state.

The presidents of Kosovo and Serbia participate in a UNSC meeting, May 27, 2014. (UN Photo)

The presidents of Kosovo and Serbia participate in a UNSC meeting, May 27, 2014. (UN Photo)

Belgrade says an application by Kosovo to join UNESCO violates Resolution 1244 and the move will also likely provoke debate over the protection of Serbian Orthodox churches in Kosovo. Some 150 of these churches were destroyed from 1999-2004 and several more were reportedly destroyed in 2008 unrest.

In 2012, the government of Kosovo announced that it was forming a special police force consisting of Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs to protect Serbian Orthodox churches.

Two of Kosovo’s Orthodox monasteries are on UNESCO’s world heritage list. The monasteries are protected by troops from KFOR, the international security force in Kosovo.

Kosovo has also been fighting for the return of 1,200 artifacts, some dating from the Neolithic period, that it says were appropriated by Belgrade after 1999.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

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The presidents of Kosovo and Serbia participate in a UNSC meeting, May 27, 2014. (UN Photo)


May 28, 2014 – When the presidents of Kosovo and Serbia addressed the Security Council on Tuesday, Tomislav Nikolić sat behind a nameplate that stated his country while Atifete Jahjaga sat behind a nameplate that simply said her name.

That’s because Serbia is a UN member state but Kosovo is not and its path to full membership is likely blocked for the near future as Russia is sure to veto any Security Council resolution on the matter.

Pristina participates in regional meetings in Europe under a Kosovo nameplate per a 2012 agreement known as the asterisk agreement that stipulates that an asterisk on the nameplate refer to a footnote that states “this designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.”

While Kosovo’s path to full UN membership is blocked in the Council, it could go to the General Assembly, as Palestine did in 2012, and petition for non-member observer state status which would require a simple majority of 97 UN member states supporting the resolution.

Palestinian FM Riad Malki addressing the Security Council in January 2013.

Palestinian FM Riad Malki addressing the Security Council in January 2013. (UN Photo)


As it stands, 96 countries recognize Kosovo including 23 of the 28 EU member states. Spain and Cyprus, who both voted in favor of Palestinian recognition at the UN, have not yet recognized Kosovo – both wary of the implications for their own territorial issues regarding Catalonia and Northern Cyprus. Greece, Romania and Slovakia are the remaining EU countries that have yet to recognize Kosovo.

Non-EU holdouts include Morocco and Pakistan. Both have expressed support for an independent Kosovo state but are similarly concerned about implications due to the situations in Western Sahara and Kashmir.

- Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

 

UN ‘Regret’ Over Serbian War Song Played at UNGA Concert

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Ban Ki-moon and Vuk Jeremic at Monday’s Concert (source: Blic)

Jan. 17, 2013 – The United Nations has expressed regret that a Serbian war song was sung at a concert held in the General Assembly hall on Monday.

The event, commemorating the Julian New Year and Serbia’s presidency of the General Assembly, was attended by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, who is Serbia’s former foreign minister.

For the final performance, the Viva Vox choir sung “March on the River Drina,” a patriotic song that recalls a World War 1 battle between Serb and Austro-Hungarian forces on the river Drina, which runs through the Bosnia-Serbia border. The song later became an anthem for ultra-nationalist Serb forces.

A protest letter sent to Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday states that, ”The genocide that occurred in Srebrenica and Zepa, and other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was conducted by Serbian aggressors while blasting this song as they raped, murdered, and ethnically cleansed the non-Serb population.”*

On Thursday, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said: “We are aware that some people were offended by the encore song at the concert held at the General Assembly on Monday and we sincerely regret that people were offended by this song which was not listed in the official program. The Secretary-General was obviously not aware what this song was about or the use that was made of it in the past.”

At the closing of Monday’s performance, Jeremic dedicated the concert to all those who dream of world peace.

A war song seems an unusual tribute to world peace. 

- Denis Fitzgerald

* “The women knew the rapes would begin when ‘Mars na Drinu’ played over the loudspeaker of the main mosque… While ‘Mars na Drinu’ was playing, the women were ordered to strip and soldiers entered the homes, taking away the ones they wanted. The ages of women taken ranged from 12 to 60. Frequently the soldiers would seek out mother and daughter combinations.” source: “Seventh Report on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia: Part II” US submission of information to the United Nations Security Council. 1993.

Kosovo Next for UN Recognition?

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Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian delegation celebrate Thursday’s historic UNGA vote recognizing Palestine as a state. (photo credit: UN photo)

Nov. 30, 2012 – Yesterday’s victory for Palestine at the UN will give hope to Kosovo that it too can soon join the United Nations as a non-member state.

To date, some 96 countries have recognized Kosovo as an independent state including 22 of the 27 EU member states. Pristina needs 97 votes in the General Assembly (simple majority) for admission as a non-member observer state.

Like the Palestinians, Kosovo’s road to full UN membership is blocked in the Security Council, with Russia sure to use its veto to prevent Pristina’s full-member state status 

Among the countries that have yet to recognize Kosovo are several member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, including Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan and Tunisia.

Morocco and Pakistan have expressed support for an independent Kosovo state but are concerned about the implications for their own territorial integrity due to the situations in Western Sahara and Kashmir.

Similarly, EU member states, Cyprus and Spain – who both voted in favor recognizing Palestine – have not recognized Kosovo. Both are also wary of the implications for their own territorial issues regarding Catalonia and Northern Cyprus.

It may well be the fledging governments in Libya and Tunisia who will bring Kosovo over the threshold with Tunis and Tripoli in the past year indicating support for recognizing an independent Kosovo, though neither has yet made a formal declaration.  

Should Kosovo seek a General Assembly vote before Sept 2013 then former Serb foreign minister Vuk Jeremic would preside over the session in his capacity as president of the 193-member assembly.

Denis Fitzgerald

(UN recognition of Kosovo as a state would also pave the way for its acceptance into football’s international governing body, FIFA. The country could then participate in international qualifying competitions for the quadrennial Euro and World Cup tournaments, a move that would be very welcome in football-mad Kosovo)