Under Pressure From Turkey, Kosovo May Overturn Decision to Open Jerusalem Embassy

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Albin Kurti of the Self-Determination Movement party in Pristina, Kosovo on Sunday, two weeks ago.
Albin Kurti of the Self-Determination Movement party in Pristina, Kosovo on Sunday, two weeks ago.Credit: Visar Kryeziu,AP

Kosovo’s prime minister-designate has found himself in a difficult diplomatic position ahead of taking the post following his country’s diplomatic ties with Israel.

Albin Kurti of the Self-Determination Movement party, or Vetevendosje!, is expected to be Kosovo’s next prime minister after his party won the February 14 parliamentary election.

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On Monday, Kurti met with the Turkish ambassador in Pristina, and Kosovo’s decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem was among the topics of discussion.

“The place where the embassy will be located is to be considered following checking of the documentation of the outgoing government,” said a statement issued after the talks.

On February 1, Kosovo established diplomatic ties with Israel and decided to open an embassy in Jerusalem — becoming the first European country and Muslim-majority one to make such plans. It followed the U.S. and Guatemala in doing so. Most countries’ embassies are in Tel Aviv.

Kosovo’s decision was taken when outgoing Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti met with Serb President Aleksandar Vucic at the White House in September with then-President Donald Trump.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Kosovo that the move could damage future relations with his country.

“I believe that it would be beneficial to avoid such a move that would cause great damage to Kosovo,” Erdogan said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote that “I attach much importance to Kosovo’s decision to open its embassy in Jerusalem and I look forward to hosting you in Israel for its inauguration.”

The letters sent in February were published by Kurti’s spokesman, Perparim Kryeziu, on his Facebook page as part of congratulations from world leaders on his victory.

Last week, Kosovo sent its ambassador to Israel.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed, as the capital of a future state. Most of the international community doesn’t recognize the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and says the competing claims to the city should be resolved through negotiations.

Kosovo’s Parliament declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after a U.S.-led 78-day NATO airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanians — most of whom are Muslim — in Kosovo.

Most Western nations have recognized Kosovo’s independence, but Serbia and its allies Russia and China have not.

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