Romania to boycott Obama summit over Kosovo

AP News
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Posted: May 26, 2011 6:29 AM
Romania to boycott Obama summit over Kosovo

Romania's president will not attend the upcoming summit in Warsaw between central European leaders and U.S. President Barack Obama because of the inclusion of Kosovo.

Presidential spokesman Valeriu Turcan confirmed that President Traian Basescu will not participate at the May 27-28 summit. He is the second leader to refuse to attend the summit, after the Serbian president. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Turcan said late Wednesday the decision was taken after "an entity that is not recognized as a state by our country was invited" to the summit.

Romania, which has a sizable ethnic Hungarian minority, has refused to recognize the independence of former Serbian province of Kosovo, fearing the precedent that it might be setting for restive regions in central Europe. Romania's boycott comes after Serbian President Boris Tadic refused to attend the meeting because Kosovo's President Atifete Jahjaga will be there.

The inclusion of Jahjaga has also created discomfort for Slovakia, another country that has not recognized Kosovo. Slovakia, like Romania, has a large ethnic Hungarian population.

Slovakia which also has an ethnic Hungarian minority said President Ivan Gasparovic would only attend if Polish organizers agreed to meet certain conditions.

Slovakia requested that Kosovo's state symbols not be on display during the meeting and that the Kosovo president not sign any declaration at the end of the summit.

Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said earlier this week that Poland recognizes Kosovo's independence and therefore would have no reason to exclude its leader.

Leaders from across the region will gather on Friday for the two-day meeting. Obama is joining them at a Friday dinner toward the end of a four-country European tour.