In a statement that has left the Maldivian government tight-lipped, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced that the Maldives, amongst eight other nations, has withdrawn its recognition of Kosovo's independence. This unexpected revelation came during Vucic's annual address in Serbia's capital, Belgrade.
"Nine countries have withdrawn their recognition: Somalia, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Eswatini, Libya, Guinea, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Maldives," Vucic announced, adding that a total of 106 countries globally do not acknowledge Kosovo's independence.
Kosovo, predominantly populated by Albanians, separated from Serbia in 1999 and declared independence in 2008. The country has been working towards EU membership and a visa-free regime for the EU zone. However, Serbia has consistently refused to recognize Kosovo's independence, considering it as part of its own territory.
The Maldivian Government, despite Vucic's claim, has yet to make an official statement regarding their position on Kosovo. The Maldives was the 55th nation to recognize Kosovo as an independent entity in 2009, joining a list of over 100 nations acknowledging Kosovo's sovereignty.
The claim's timing has sparked interest, considering the recent interactions between Maldivian and Serbian officials. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldives met with President Vucic on the sidelines of the Conference of the Least Developed Countries in Doha. A subsequent trip planned by President Solih to Serbia was notably cancelled for undisclosed reasons.
Adding to the intrigue, Maldives' Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid recently visited Serbia, meeting with President Vucic and his Serbian counterpart. This visit marked the second time in two years that Shahid had met with the Serbian Foreign Minister, sparking speculation about the nature of these frequent visits and potential "underhand deals" with Serbia.
The Maldives Journal reached out to Minister Shahid for a comment on President Vucic's claim, but there has been no response thus far. The silence from the Maldivian Government has only fueled the speculation and uncertainty about its stand on Kosovo's independence.