Norway to recognize Kosovo, foreign minister says

Other News Materials 20 February 2008 16:39 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Norway on Wednesday joined a number of countries recognizing the breakaway Serb province of Kosovo as an independent state, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said.

Store cited "several reasons" for the decision, including the belief that "further talks" were unlikely to result in an agreement on Kosovo's status between Serbia and Kosovo.

"At the same time, the status quo is impossible," the minister said in a statement.

"There is need for clarity about the future status so that Kosovo can develop economically and politically," the minister added.

He underlined that Kosovo was a "special case" and that it was crucial that the leaders in Pristina upheld commitments they had made to respect ethnic and religious minorities.

Store later told Norwegian radio news that the decision was "very difficult," and that Oslo wanted to retain "close ties" with Serbia.

Norway is not a member of the European Union but is a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Store said he expected NATO forces to remain in Kosovo for a long time.