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Czech President Tells Serbia He Will Seek To Withdraw Kosovo Recognition

Czech President Milos Zeman at a press conference in Belgrade on September 11.
Czech President Milos Zeman at a press conference in Belgrade on September 11.

Czech President Milos Zeman says he would like his country to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo as a sovereign nation.

Speaking during a September 11 visit to Belgrade, Zeman said he would discuss the move with Czech lawmakers.

"The Hague tribunal recently issued news where it expressed suspicion about the war crimes of Kosovo representatives, and I think the prime minister resigned because of this. Let me say a personal opinion that a war crimes-led state should not be located in the community of democratic countries,” Zeman said.

Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek backed up the president's statement, saying in a tweet that he "would ask [the Czech government] whether it is possible to review the acknowledgement of Kosovo."

The president does not have the power to make the move on his own.

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned in July ahead of his questioning by a Hague-based court investigating alleged war crimes by fighters from the Kosovo Liberation Army two decades ago. He has since acted in a caretaker role.

Haradinaj has claimed his innocence, but said he felt he could not go to The Hague as the head of the government.

It was the second time Haradinaj, a former commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army, has stepped down as a result of accusations from The Hague.

In response to Zeman's statement, Kosovo said it was pulling out of a September 12 summit in Prague where several western Balkan countries will meet with prime ministers from EU members the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, according to a Czech government spokesperson.

A former Serbian province, Kosovo declared independence in 2008. Although more than 110 countries recognize Kosovo's statehood, Belgrade, and its traditional ally Moscow, do not.

European Union-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia to settle their differences have stalled.

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