NZ on fence over Kosovo independence

Last updated 18:26 18/02/2008

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New Zealand would neither recognise nor not recognise an independent Kosovo, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.

There has been day of celebration in the Kosovo capital Pristina after its parliament adopted a declaration of independence from Serbia and proclaimed the new Republic of Kosovo a sovereign state.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today backed an independent Kosovo, after the former war-torn Yugoslav state declared its independence overnight.

Mr Rudd said Australia would offer official diplomatic recognition in the near future.

Miss Clark told reporters the New Zealand Government was not intending to make a formal statement of recognition.

"It's never been the New Zealand Government's position to recognise in such circumstances. We will neither recognise nor not recognise. Over time the way in which we deal with those who govern in the territory will I suppose imply whether there is recognition but we are not intending to make a formal statement," Miss Clark said.

She said the Government was disappointed that what was called the troika process did not get results.

"There was a three-way process between the United States, Russia and the European Union to try and work out an agreed position on Kosovo's status and that fell over in December. So, the possibility of Kosovo unilaterally declaring independence has been there for a couple of months now."

She said Kosovo's declaration of independence was a divisive issue internationally and it was not clear to her that all European Union states would want to recognise it.


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