Monday, September 01, 2008

Update on the Republic of Kosovo

Many have been wondering what the status with regard to the Republic of Kosovo is as of today, both in general and in amateur radio terms specifically. Substantial progress has been made, and a new approach to get Kosovo totally on its own feet is well on its way. The United Nations (UNMIK) has scaled down its administrative role while the European Union (EULEX) has initiated its supporting role to help integrate the "interim administration" functions into the local institutions.

The United Nations Frequency Management Office (FMO) is one of those local institutions. This Office was responsible for authorizing Amateur Radio operations before and after the Kosovar declaration of independence, but as of today the FMO does not exist nor are licenses issued. You may still hear some stations operating as YU8 since those licenses issued in the past have not been specifically terminated.

Undoubtedly, Kosovo as a "country" has all required country requirements; (A) a defined territory, (B) a permanent population and (C) a government and (D) is capable of interacting with other countries with whom it has established diplomatic relations. As of today, the Republic of Kosovo is recognized by 46 countries representing many leading states and all geographical continents.

From an Amateur Radio and DXCC perspective, a great deal of confusing discussion has taken place; one side argues that the DXCC criteria needs to be honored at all times. Others see the criteria as not being engraved on a tablet of stone but that the rules facilitate "entities" dynamically in the context of an ever-changing world. Both views have some merit and should be appreciated.

Western Sahara (SO), another disputed DXCC country, is currently recognized by 48 countries and even today it is not a member of the United Nations nor does it have a dedicated ITU prefix. At the time Amateur Radio entered this desert country, no one had argued that it belonged to DXCC. When Swains Island was up for DXCC discussion it was decided that the DXCC criteria had to be changed and so Swains entered the scene. Swains was added not decades ago - but just recently.

Before Swains Island, DXCC used three "measuring sticks"; UN membership, ITU prefix or IARU society. In facilitating Swains, the ARRL Board of Directors decided to keep the UN and ITU parts but changed the IARU rule to recording of an event by the US Department of State, which again opened up another gate for more DXCC entities.

Now Kosovo meets the highest US Department of State criteria - Kosovo is an independent state recognized by the United States and easily passes the US State Department gate, if that gate is honored in the right spirit. With DXCC rules in place as they existed before Swains, Kosovo would enter through the IARU gate because of its permanent amateur radio population and its national society, SHRAK.

The above is just an illustration of the dynamics of the DXCC at any given time, following the dynamics of the world.

The world outside Kosovo abounds with many other examples that offer a slightly different perspective in the international arena. Another oft-mentioned entity - Northern Cyprus - is recognized only by Turkey, and
the situation regarding Cyprus remains deadlocked. Two new cases - South Ossetia and Abkhazia - are recognized by the Russian Federation and probably soon by Belarus (EW) and Venezuela (YV). If they ever achieve wider recognition apart from the countries subject to the current conflict, they will become another set of DXCC candidates.

An immediate UN membership gate is pointed more in the direction of those that get themselves established with no gun fire. The UN's potential for resolving conflicts to its own satisfaction is seriously hampered by the Security Council veto structure that plays a major role in eliminating new countries at that gate.

So, the ARRL is left to define a workable recognition based country criteria - be it qualitative and/or quantitative. Kosovo with its almost 50 recognitions is the first one at the gate. Delaying action on the Republic of Kosovo so that it does not qualify for anything is not an option for the ARRL. Kosovo is a country with a permanent amateur radio population and therefore Kosovar amateurs should be welcomed to our community.

Back to the practical world; YU8/OH2R QSLs for the first amateur radio operation from the Republic of Kosovo were printed last week by Gennady, UX5UO and they will be in the mails in a few days. We thank Gennady for his efforts and support in making these full-color cards meet the spirit of the Kosovo case as they represent a special moment for those involved with the Kosovo project and those who follow world events as well as the development of the DXCC program.

You can view these cards at

You may read more about YU8/OH2R and Kosovo at

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