Kosovo declares independence from Serbia

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Kosovo declares independence from Serbia

Post by Admin on Thu Feb 28, 2008 4:49 pm

  • NEW: Kosovo officially declares independence from Serbia Sunday afternoon
  • NEW: PM Thaci: "From this day onwards, Kosovo is proud, independent and free"
  • NEW: Thousands of people on streets of capital Pristina, waving flags and cheering
  • U.S., EU are expected to recognize new state; Serbia, ally Russia will not
PRISTINA, Kosovo (CNN) -- Kosovo has formally declared its
independence from Serbia and become the world's newest state in a move
opposed by Serbia and Russia but backed by many western governments.
In Kosovska Mitrovica, a Kosovar Albanian waves an Albanian flag from his rooftop Sunday.

Many ethnic Albanians are waving the U.S. and UK flags, in recognition of NATO's role in the region.
Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci meets crowds in Pristina ahead of Sunday's

Kosovo Albanians parade an Albanian flag as they celebrate forthcoming independence in Pristina Friday.
Lawmakers in the legislature of the former
Serbian province approved the declaration of independence at an
extraordinary session Sunday afternoon. It was read out in Albanian,
Serbian and English by prime minister Hashim Thaci before the approval
of state symbols including Kosovar's new national flag and anthem.
Thaci said that Kosovo was an "independent and democratic" state,
adding: "From this day onwards, Kosovo is proud, independent and free."
CNN's Alessio Vinci, reporting from the Kosovar capital Pristina, said
that thousands of Kosovo's Albanian population had braved the freezing
wind and cold to sing, dance, wave flags in the streets and light
firecrackers ahead of the much anticipated vote. Some revellers were
even said to be firing gunshot into the air. "It's been like this for
several hours now," he said.

"It's a day they have been waiting for for such a long time that
many of them are trying to figure out just how they got to this day."
President George Bush said Sunday that Kosovo's
status must be resolved before the Balkans can become stable and that
the United States supports the Ahtisaari plan which calls for a form of
supervised independence.
The European Union
decided Saturday to launch a mission of about 2,000 police and judicial
officers to replace the United Nations mission that has been
controlling the province since the end of the war with Serbia in 1999.
Kosovo has been under U.N. supervision and patrolled by a NATO-led
peacekeeping force since the end of the three-month war, in which NATO
warplanes pounded Serbia to roll back a campaign of "ethnic cleansing"
of the province's Albanian population under former then-President
Slobodan Milosevic.

The disputed province is dear to the Serbs, Orthodox Christians
who regard it as Serbian territory. But it is equally coveted by
Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, Muslims who have a 90 percent majority, and
two years of talks on its final status ended in failure last December.
"Its status must be resolved in order for the Balkans to be stable,"
President Bush told reporters during a news conference in Tanzania
Bush said the Ahtisaari plan -- named after former Finnish President
Marti Ahtisaari -- is the best option. The proposal would give Kosovo
limited statehood under international supervision.
President Bush added that "it's in Serbia's interest to be aligned with
Europe and the Serbian people can know that they have a friend in
"We are heartened by the fact that the Kosovo government has clearly
proclaimed its willingness and its desire to support Serbian rights in
Kosovo," Bush said.
said Thursday he would establish a new government office for minorities
and it would protect the rights of minorities after the province
declares independence.
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic has
promised his country will refrain from using force against Kosovo after
independence, though he has warned that Serbia will take punitive
diplomatic, political, and economic measures against the province.
Russia -- Serbia's historic ally -- has remained opposed to Kosovo's
independence. Russia, which has fought two wars against separatist
rebels in its southwestern republic of Chechnya, has said that U.S. and
European support for Kosovo's independence could lead to an
"uncontrollable crisis" in the Balkans.
The EU said Saturday that "around 1,900 international police officers,
judges, prosecutors and customs officials and approximately 1,100 local
staff will be based in headquarters in Pristina or located throughout
the judicial and police system in Kosovo."
The EU mission's objective is "to support the Kosovo authorities by
monitoring, mentoring and advising on all areas related to the rule of
law, in particular in the police, judiciary, customs and correctional
services," it said.

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