Obama's 'Incredible Mistake' over Phantom Kosovo Referendum
U.S. President Barack Obama has caused confusion after claiming yesterday that Kosovo held a UN-assisted referendum for self-determination – misleading people over the true origins of the country. The U.S. President used the example to hit out against Russia's annexation of Crimea, but experts have noted that no such referendum took place, and implied that Obama's "incredible mistake" should elicit a retraction or correction from the White House.
The error came in a speech delivered at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and has been remarked upon to Breitbart London by regional experts from both the United Kingdom and indeed from Kosovo. One source said the faux-pas was "the very last thing Kosovo and Serbia need" as the two seek to strengthen relations.
Obama said in his speech yesterday: "...Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organised not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbours. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea."
But none of it came close to happening in Kosovo either, as Milos Subotic, the International Relations Officer of the University of Pristina, Kosovo told Breitbart London.
"During his yesterday speech in Brussels, President Obama showed a lack of knowledge of the political situation in Kosovo. Kosovo never organised any kind of referendum, but the Assembly of Provisional Institutions of self-government of Kosovo made a unilateral declaration of independence on February 17th 2008.
"The declaration of independence has been recognised by approximately one hundred states, however Serbia and many countries have also showed their opposition to declaration of independence, most notably China and Russia. What Kosovo did was not in line with United Nations and that’s confirmed by the fact that Kosovo is not member of UN."
Daniel Hamilton, a UK-based Balkans expert, told Breitbart London: "It’s no secret that Balkan geopolitics is a complex and confusing game – but one would hope the White House speechwriters would check their facts before presenting the President of the United States with bogus information.
“Obama’s claim that Kosovo held a UN-sponsored referendum prior to declaring independence is simply untrue. No such referendum took place.
“Kosovo’s declaration of independence was a unilateral one issued following a vote of the territory’s interim Parliament. Nearly six years since independence, Kosovo is still not a member of the United Nations.
“While relations between Belgrade and Pristina are improving every day and Serbia is on a firm path to EU membership, the Western Balkans remains a very tense place. The very last thing Kosovo and Serbia need is a poorly-briefed US President opining about matters he and his advisors clearly have no clear grasp of”.
Dr. James Ker-Lindsay, a Senior Research Fellow on the Politics of South East Europe at the London School of Economics took to Twitter to correct the U.S. President before telling Breitbart London: "I think one must assume that this was indeed an error. However, it really does seem to be an incredible mistake to have made. Surely there must have been someone at hand who would have known that there was no UN organised referendum in Kosovo. It really was not that long ago.
"It will certainly play into the hands of those who believe that the United States is now trying to rewrite history to put a better gloss on its own actions.
"It will be interesting to see if a retraction or correction is issued by the White House."