Portugal reconoce Kosovo

Portugal becomes 22nd EU state to recognise Kosovo

ELITSA VUCHEVA, 08.10.2008 @ 09:12 CET, Portugal on Tuesday (7 October) afternoon announced its official recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, becoming the 22nd EU country to make the move.

"It is in the interests of the Portuguese state to proceed today to the formal recognition of Kosovo," the country's foreign minister Luis Amado told the national assembly's foreign affairs committee, AFP reports.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on 17 February (Photo: European Parliament)

"We are convinced that the independence of Kosovo has become irreversible," he added.

An autonomous Serbian province within the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo fell under UN governance in 1999 when NATO troops intervened to stop a crackdown by the then president of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic's forces on the majority ethnic-Albanian population.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on 17 February this year, with 20 EU states recognising the move in a few days or weeks afterward.

Malta followed suit in August, while five member states - Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Romania and Slovakia - remain opposed to the declaration of independence, saying that it goes against international law.

Worldwide, 48 countries have now recognised Kosovo as a sovereign state, including the US. But 144 states, including Russia, China and India, still refuse to do so.

Serbia is categorically opposed to the new state of play and considers Kosovo as part of its national territory.

Belgrade has said it would use all diplomatic and legal means possible to reverse the situation and is currently seeking an opinion in the International Court of Justice on the Kosovo split.

The UN General Assembly is on Wednesday (8 October) to vote on whether or not to approve Belgrade's court initiative.

Many UN members, notably those "that have recognised Kosovo and that are influential," are pressuring Serbia to abandon the move, Serbia's Kosovo minister Goran Bogdanovic told Reuters.