This decision was quickly overruled by Prime Minister Howard who authorised nearly 4,000 Kosovo refugees temporary visas to stay in Australia. Also in 1999, Australia provided $500,000 to Kosovar refugees in Australia to teach them how to avoid landmines before flying home. Australia encouraged the voluntary return of many of the 4,000 refugees it had provided temporary protection visas. Refugees were provided with $3,000 each to help them resettle.
In 2000, the forced return of refugees from Kosovo by Australia and numerous other countries was criticised by the head of the United Nations administration in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner. Australia removed 114 families in a detention centre and deported them despite a last-minute appeal to John Howard, the prime minister.
Australian recognition of Kosovo
The Assembly of Kosovo unilaterally declared the independence of the United Nations administered territory from Serbia as the Republic of Kosovo on 17 February 2008. Australia recognised the state on 19 February 2008. The decision to recognise the Republic of Kosovo was made despite Australian commentators like Michael McKinley claiming it could adversely affect relations with Russia, China, Romania and Spain. On the day Kosovo declared independence, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia said that "We've already indicated to our diplomatic representatives around the world that this (independence) would be an appropriate course of action". Milivoje Glisic, the Serbian ambassador to Australia, called the declaration of independence illegal, and he was recalled to Belgrade by the Serbian government for consultations on 20 February 2008.
Kosovo and Australia officially established diplomatic relations on 21 May 2008. Kosovo's Embassy to Australia opened in February 2013. Australia's Ambassador to Kosovo is subordinate to the Embassy in Vienna, Austria.
Australia at the ICJ
On 30 September 2008, in a trial vote regarding the legality of Kosovo's independence at the United Nations General assembly there was a vote at the request of the Serbian authorities. Australia abstained from this vote.
- Foreign relations of Australia
- Foreign relations of Kosovo
- International recognition of Kosovo
- Australia–Serbia relations
References and notes
Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 108 out of 193 United Nations member states.
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- Serbia receives UN backing on Kosovo in trial vote