Diplomatic Row: Ghana, Serbia Close Down Missions; Goran’s Job In Danger

Serbia has booted Samuel Valis-Akyianu, Ghana's Ambassador to Serbia, out of the country after a major diplomatic row. The Foreign Affairs Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, told Parliament on Wednesday the hitherto “cordial relations” between the two countries suffered serious bruises after Ghana recognised break-away Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia as an independent state. Following the row, angry Serbian authorities sent Ambassador Valis-Akyianu packing in an attempt to mount pressure on Accra to reverse its decision to recognise neighbouring Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, a decade after a bloody separatist war with Serbian forces that claimed 10,000 lives. Beyond announcing the order to close Ghana's mission in Belgrade, the Minister did not say if Valis-Akyianu is to be reassigned. “The long standing cordial relations between Ghana and Serbia, which dates back to the days of the former Yugoslavia can now be based more on political considerations, rather than on mutually beneficial economic interests,” the Minister told lawmakers in a statement he read on the floor of the 230-member legislature. “Following the decision of the Ghana Government to recognise Kosovo, the Serbian authorities have asked Ghana's Ambassador in Belgrade to return home and consult with the Ghana Government to reverse the recognition,” the Minister said. He added: “Moreover, the Serbian Government has requested its Honorary Consulate in Accra to be closed down.” “The reaction of the Serbian Government to Ghana's recognition of Kosovo leaves us with no better choice than to order the complete closure of our mission in Belgrade,” Alhaji Mumuni said. News of strain relations between the two countries is coming at the time Ghanaians continue to express outrage over the continued stay in office of Goran Stevanovic, the coach of the Black Stars, who is also a Serbian. Local football fans have been calling for his head following what critics have called poor performances at the just-ended Africa Cup of Nation and subsequently, allegations of witchcraft he had since made against members of the Ghana squad. It is, however, unclear how the bad blood currently flowing between the two countries will affect the Serbian coach, whose fate will be announced by the Ghana Football Association in the coming days. Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Minister has announced Cabinet has approved the opening of two new missions to enhance diplomatic and economic relations between Ghana, Turkey and China.