Why Kosovo keeps extending blind support to Israel


Israeli PM Netanyahu greets Kosovar refugees at Ben-Gurion airport in May 1999; it was his first time to be seen in public since his humiliation at the polls PHOTO/Havakuk Levison/Reuters

“I love Israel. What a great country. Kosovo is a friend of Israel,” Kosovan President Hashim Thaci said shortly before declaring independence from Serbia in 2008. A decade later, Thaci promised to open an embassy in Jerusalem if the Israeli state recognises Kosovo.

For over a decade, Kosovo’s political elite has been courting Israel, hoping to get its political support. Despite Tel Aviv’s refusal to recognise Kosovan independence, Kosovan officials have persisted with the charm offensive.

In April this year, Kosovan Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj welcomed six US investors to Pristina in 2019 in his office decorated with the flags of Kosovo, the United States, and Israel. He told his guests: “We are very proud of our cooperation with the US and the Jewish people, and Israel as a nation is a good model to follow.”

In July, during a trip to Israel, organised by the American Jewish Committee, Kosovan ambassador to the US, Vlora Citaku, said that she is fond of the Zionist state and that the Kosovan people “look up to Israel as an example of how a state can be built”. That the Israeli state was built on the continuing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and that she herself had once become a refugee as a result of a similar ethnic cleansing campaign did not appear to bother her.

Whether ordinary Kosovans love Israel is indeed debatable, but what is quite obvious is that their government has adopted a stubborn pro-Israeli stance, ignoring history, geopolitical realities and Israel’s own practical considerations. 

Staunchly pro-US

Kosovo has been struggling with gaining international recognition. Although over 90 percent of the country’s population is Albanian, Serbia still claims control over Kosovo, clinging onto what it claims is historically Serbian territory.

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