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March 2, 2021 10:56 am

Turkey Leans on Kosovo to Nix Jerusalem Embassy Plan

avatar by i24 News

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks to media after attending Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey, Aug. 7, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Murad Sezer.

i24 News – Kosovo’s ex-Prime Minister Albin Kurti met with Turkey’s ambassador in the capital Pristina on Monday, discussing numerous topics including Kosovo’s decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem.

On February 1, Kosovo established diplomatic ties with Israel and decided to open an embassy in Jerusalem — becoming the first European country and Muslim-majority one to make such plans. It followed the US and Guatemala in doing so.

The intention to open a Jerusalem embassy put the partially-recognized state, which was only formed in 2008, at odds with powerful opponents to the plan, including Turkey and the European Union.

The EU, which Kosovo would at some stage like to join, said that members of its 27-nation supranational bloc do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and locate their embassies in Tel Aviv instead, implying that failure to do so would likely jeopardize its potential accession.

Similarly, Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a thinly-veiled threat that “it would be beneficial to avoid such a move that would cause great damage to Kosovo.”

“The place where the embassy will be located is to be considered following checking of the documentation of the outgoing government,” said a statement issued after the talks.

Israeli officials welcomed outgoing Kosovan Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti’s remarks about the embassy, which he made while meeting with Serb President Aleksandar Vucic at the White House in September with then-President Donald Trump.

“I attach much importance to Kosovo’s decision to open its embassy in Jerusalem and I look forward to hosting you in Israel for its inauguration,” remarked Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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