BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Spain, grappling with its own separatist movements, said on Monday it would not recognize the secession of the ethnic Albanian territory of Kosovo from Serbia.
“The government of Spain will not recognize the unilateral act proclaimed yesterday by the assembly of Kosovo,” Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos told reporters on arrival for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers.
“We will not recognize because we consider ... this does not respect international law,” he said, adding that to be legal, secession required either an agreement between the parties or a U.N. Security Council resolution.
Basque separatist movement ETA has spent the past four decades fighting for an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southwestern France, killing more than 800 people.
Spain must also contend with separatist pressures within the northeast region of Catalonia, which like the Basque region has some degree of autonomy.
Diplomats said Madrid had unsuccessfully sought to persuade Kosovo Albanian leaders to delay their independence declaration until after a March 9 general election to prevent the secession having any impact on the election campaign.
It was unclear whether Spain’s concerns would prevent EU foreign ministers on Monday agreeing a joint declaration on the 27-member bloc’s future policy towards Kosovo.
Spain proposed a draft for the text that, if agreed, would reaffirm the EU’s commitment to the principle of territorial integrity of states and stress that Kosovo does not set a precedent for any other separatist causes.
However the draft, according to a copy obtained by Reuters, would note the EU’s decision at the weekend to launch a police and civil administration mission in Kosovo and that the EU was ready to help Balkans states towards the goal of EU entry.
Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia