It has been over five years since Kosovo’s Assembly declared independence. Since 17 February 2008 many diverse countries, from Pakistan to Panama, from Swaziland to Sweden, have recognised Kosovo’s independence. And, this year, Guyana, Tanzania and Yemen have decided to join that number.
Significantly, this means Kosovo is now recognised as an independent state by over half of the United Nations’ 193 members.
I am proud that the United Kingdom was one of the first countries to recognise Kosovo. Kosovo’s declaration of independence was an exceptional case: the history of human rights abuses by Milosevic’s regime; NATO’s intervention followed by the lengthy UN administration; and the legal and constitutional framework established under UN Security Council Resolution 1244 which aimed to resolve Kosovo’s final status.
In 2010 the International Court of Justice announced the declaration of independence did not break international law. Supporting independence was therefore the right thing to do. We have remained a constant and continued supporter of Kosovo’s independence.
British Ministers and officials have regularly assisted the Kosovan Foreign Ministry with its efforts to lobby other countries to recognise Europe’s youngest state and I hope that this new momentum will now encourage other countries to reconsider their positions.
Recognition brings many benefits to Kosovo and the Western Balkans more generally.
For example, last year’s successful application to join the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has opened the door for investment, which is much needed in a country with significant unemployment. And recognition means Kosovo can join international organisations and contribute to solving cross border issues, especially those important to the Western Balkans – and to the UK – such as tackling organised crime and increasing economic development.
All of which will mean a more stable Western Balkans in the future.
We should not be under the impression that the road from declaring independence to full international recognition is anything other than a long, slow process. Unfortunately it is still too soon for Kosovo to join the United Nations and many other international organisations because many countries still oppose its independence.
Nevertheless, recognition by Guyana, Tanzania and Yemen is a source for optimism. It demonstrates that though Kosovo’s integration into the international community as an independent state may take longer than we had hoped, its independence is irreversible. Urime dhe paçit fat  / Srečno  to our friends in Kosovo.
 Congratulations and good luck (Albanian)
 Good luck (Serbian)