Latvia has recognized the independence of Kosovo, the breakaway region that declared its freedom from Serbia on Feb. 17.
The Latvian announcement on Feb. 20 comes after Foreign Minister Māris Riektiņš first said his country favored a coordinated action by the European Union on the Kosovo question. He traveled to Brussels for a Feb. 18 meeting of the EU’s General Affairs and External Relations Council, which decided that recognition of Kosovo was up to each member country.
Several countries, including Spain, have said they will not recognize Kosovo in part because of concerns over the precedent such action might set for minorities in their territories. Ninety percent of Kosovo’s inhabitants are ethnic Albanians, but the region also holds deep cultural and historic meaning to the Serbs.
Russia, which has longstanding ties to Serbia, also will not recognize the new nation. Russian President Vladimir Putin angered Spanish officials when he compared Kosovo to the issue of separatism in the Basque and Catalan regions.
The Latvian decision, echoing similar EU member announcements, notes that the Kosovo situation is unique and cannot be compared to other conflicts.
Estonia and Lithuania also have said they will recognize Kosovo’s independence.
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