The Latest: Kosovo president laments EU disunity on status
MUNICH (AP) — The Latest on the Munich Security Conference (all times local):
Kosovo’s president says his country’s 10-year history is “a story of success,” but he laments the European Union’s lack of unity over its status as a membership candidate.
Hashim Thaci said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday — the anniversary of Kosovo’s 2008 independence declaration from Serbia — that “we are not yet a member of the U.N., while our journey to the EU is far too complicated.”
Five of the 28 EU member countries haven’t recognized Kosovo’s independence. Thaci said through an interpreter that “if there were unity in the EU for Kosovo ... I’m convinced that the state of Kosovo would be a more sustainable and stable country.”
Thaci asserted that “Kosovo is the most pro-European, pro-American and pro-Western state in the Balkans. We are proud of this fact.”
The U.S. director of national intelligence says the Islamic State group remains a threat despite its recent defeats in Syria and Iraq.
Dan Coats told a gathering of world leaders, diplomats and defense officials at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that defeating the extremist group was like “killing an octopus.”
Coats said: “It’s more than just a terrorist organization. It is an ideology and perhaps a theology, and the combination of ideology and theology outlasts defeats on the battlefield.”
He says it’s not currently clear whether “we’ve done enough to keep ISIS from reconstituting, or if we’re just in a moment of pause while they’re regrouping.”
Coats says the current assessment is it “will remain a threat.”
Russia’s foreign minister says the U.S. indictment of a group of Russians accused of an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 presidential election is “just blabber.”
Asked about the indictments Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, Sergey Lavrov replied: “I have no response. You can publish anything, and we see those indictments multiplying, the statements multiplying.” He argued that U.S. officials also have said no country influenced the U.S. election results.
Lavrov added: “Until we see the facts, everything else is just blabber.”
The federal indictment brought Friday by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller represents the most detailed allegations to date of illegal Russian meddling during the campaign that sent Donald Trump to the White House.
Poland’s prime minister is rejecting criticism of a law criminalizing some statements about the country’s actions during World War II, saying that it won’t be punishable to say that there were Polish perpetrators.
The legislation outlaws public statements that falsely and intentionally attribute Nazi crimes to Poland under the German occupation. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Polish embassies had to respond 260 times last year to statements that there were “Polish death camps.” The Nazis built such camps in occupied Polish territory.
Morawiecki told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday: “Of course it’s not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian; not only German perpetrators.”
Poland’s prime minister says European nations need to beef up military spending rather than be content to continue a heavy reliance on the U.S.
Poland is one of just five NATO members that already spends the recommended 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, and Mateusz Morawiecki said it’s complicated to discuss a common European defense policy when most nations aren’t in compliance.
He told top leaders and defense officials at the Munich Security Conference that it’s not appropriate to “have those free riders who live under pax Americana but pretend to be self-sufficient in the context of security.”
He says in the wake of Russian aggression in recent years against Georgia and Ukraine, he says Europe needs “more steel tanks and not only think tanks.”
The head of the European Commission says that the security alliance between the European Union and Britain “will be maintained” after Brexit.
Jean-Claude Juncker spoke after British Prime Minister Theresa May urged her country’s EU partners not to let “rigid institutional restrictions” get in the way of a wide-ranging security partnership.
Juncker said at the Munich Security Conference: “I believe, since we are not at war with the U.K. and we do not want to take revenge on the U.K. for what the British people have decided, this security alliance, the security bridge between the U.K. and the EU will be maintained. We still need it.”
Juncker said a future security relationship shouldn’t be mixed up with other Brexit-related issues, arguing that they should be considered individually.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is calling on her country’s European Union partners not to let “rigid institutional restrictions” get in the way of a wide-ranging post-Brexit security partnership and warning that there will be “damaging real-world consequences” if none is agreed.
May told the Munich Security Conference that “the U.K. is just as committed to Europe’s security in the future as we have been in the past.”
May said the challenge is to put together a “deep and special partnership” with the EU to retain cooperation. She said: “This cannot be a time when any of us allow competition between partners, rigid institutional restrictions or deep-seated ideology to inhibit our cooperation and jeopardize the security of our citizens.”
Britain is due to leave the EU in March 2019.
Germany’s foreign minister says that as China’s influence on the world stage rises, the U.S. and Europe need to return to historical bonds and work together or risk getting left behind.
Sigmar Gabriel told world leaders and defense officials at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that the U.S. needs Europe as much as Europe needs the U.S. and said now is not the time for “just pursuing individual national interests.”
He said that since World War II Germany benefited from a strong relationship with the U.S., learning democracy, multilateralism, international law and free trade principles from Washington.
Gabriel said “maybe this can explain why we Germans in particular are so perturbed when we look across the Atlantic — because we no longer recognize our America.”