US embassy cable - 08VATICAN38

HOLY SEE HAS RECOGNIZED KOSOVO "DE FACTO", SAYS VATICAN OFFICIAL

Identifier: 08VATICAN38
Wikileaks: View 08VATICAN38 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Vatican
Created: 2008-04-30 10:15:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL PREF KIRF KJUS UN UNMIK YI EU VT
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO1789
PP RUEHBW RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHSR
DE RUEHROV #0038/01 1211015
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301015Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0937
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0971
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000038 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  4/30/2028 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PREF, KIRF, KJUS, UN, UNMIK, YI, EU, VT 
SUBJECT: HOLY SEE HAS RECOGNIZED KOSOVO "DE FACTO", SAYS VATICAN 
OFFICIAL 
 
REF: VATICAN 16 
 
VATICAN 00000038  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Sandrolini, DCM. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  The Holy See is not ready to formally recognize 
Kosovo but will continue to promote dialogue in a way that 
implicitly acknowledges and respects Kosovo's de facto 
independence.  The Holy See's diplomatic objectives are to 
balance relations with Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church -- 
as well as the situation of Catholics in Serbia -- with the 
legitimate aspirations of all Kosovars and the situation of 
Catholics in Kosovo.  The Vatican's position on formal 
recognition is not linked to the Holy See's disappointment with 
language with implications on abortion and same-sex marriages in 
the recently approved constitution.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) Pol/econ chief met with Monsignor Miguel Maury, the Holy 
See's point person for the Balkans, on April 16 to continue to 
encourage the Holy See to formally recognize Kosovo. 
 
Disappointment with the new constitution 
---------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) Maury confirmed that the Holy See is very disappointed 
with specific language in the constitution which it views as 
opening the door to the possibility -- even if very unlikely in 
today's Kosovo -- to same-sex marriages, and an attempt to 
preclude challenges to abortion.  This language, he thought, was 
introduced by international consultants with views (and 
political agendas) that are different from those held by 
Kosovars themselves.  The parliament might have not objected to 
these provisions to avoid delays in the institutional-building 
process of the new republic.  Maury added that the Holy See's 
"indignation" with the constitution, however, was not a factor 
in the Vatican's position with respect to recognition. 
 
Balancing interests 
------------------- 
 
4.  (C) The Holy See is not ready to formally recognize Kosovo 
because this would undermine its relations with the government 
of Serbia and the ecumenical dialogue with the Serbian Orthodox 
Church.  A Serbian Orthodox Church official, he noted, had told 
him that the decision to hold off extending recognition "was 
more important (to the Serbian Orthodox Church) than many of the 
steps taken to foster ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and 
Orthodox." 
 
5. (C) Maury acknowledged that holding off formal recognition 
puts the estimated 65,000 Catholics in Kosovo in an 
uncomfortable position, a position that has to be balanced with 
the hostility that the 300,000 Croatian and Hungarian Catholics 
in Serbia could face should the Holy See act otherwise.  While 
Maury had no illusions that Serbia itself would recognize Kosovo 
any time soon, he speculated that Belgrade may accept an 
eventual common EU recognition as the price to pay for EU 
admission. 
 
"De facto" recognition 
---------------------- 
 
6.  (C) Maury downplayed the Holy See's reluctance to formally 
recognize Kosovo by underlining what he described as the 
Vatican's "de facto" recognition of the new republic and the 
desire for Kosovo to succeed in a peaceful process of 
nation-building.  He noted that the Holy See was the first 
entity to comment about the independence of Kosovo in terms that 
acknowledged its irreversibility:  on February 18 -- just a day 
after Kosovo declared its independence -- the papal spokesman, 
Father Lombardi, stated that "the Holy See invites everyone, in 
particular the political leaders of Serbia and Kosovo, to show 
prudence and moderation (...), so that the premise may be 
created for A FUTURE OF RESPECT, RECONCILIATION AND COOPERATION" 
(emphasis added). 
 
7.  (C) Maury also recalled how the Pope had met with the 
President of Kosovo, Fatmir Sejdiu, on February 2, and how 
Catholic officials in Kosovo have welcomed the former Serbian 
province independence.  Maury confirmed that the Holy See's 
Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has received a 
 
SIPDIS 
letter from President Sejdiu asking for recognition and 
diplomatic relations.  While the request is officially "under 
consideration", the Holy See is not planning to respond to it at 
this time.  He added that some Muslim officials in the Balkans 
have occasionally accused the Holy See of bias against Kosovo 
because it is a Muslim-majority country.  Maury strongly rejects 
this criticism, noting that the Holy See has diplomatic 
relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
8. (C) In our previous meeting (reftel), Maury noted that the 
Holy See could not take action on recognition in the absence of 
a formal request from Kosovo's authorities, and hinted that 
 
VATICAN 00000038  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
recognition would not be imminent even after such a request. 
Now that the request has been issued, Maury has introduced a 
different spin to the Holy See's position, maintaining that the 
Vatican has "de facto" recognized Kosovo and needs not take 
further action at this time. 
 
9.  Comment continued:  Maury is a senior official that has 
served in the Balkans and speaks authoritatively on the issue of 
Kosovo.  Furthermore, his exposition is consistent with what his 
superior, deputy foreign minister Pietro Parolin, mentioned to 
the DCM separately.  While the Vatican understands the newly 
independent republic's desire for prompt formal recognition by 
as many countries as possible -- as well as USG support for this 
legitimate goal -- the risks for the Holy See's interests in the 
region outweigh the benefits of recognition.  We will continue 
to encourage the Holy See to revisit the issue, but expect that 
-- for the time being -- it will chose instead to advocate for 
peace, reconciliation and progress for the whole region without 
formally recognizing Kosovo's independence.  End comment. 
GLENDON 

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