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Kosovo declares independence

February 17, 2008

The BBC:

Kosovo’s parliament has unanimously endorsed a declaration of independence from Serbia, in an historic session.

The declaration, read by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, said Kosovo would be a democratic country that respected the rights of all ethnic communities.

The US and a number of EU countries are expected to recognise Kosovo on Monday.

Serbia’s PM denounced the US for helping create a “false state”. Serbia’s ally, Russia, called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting.

Correspondents say the potential for trouble between Kosovo’s Serbs and ethnic Albanians is enormous.

Serbia’s Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica blamed the US which he said was “ready to violate the international order for its own military interests”.

“Today, this policy of force thinks that it has triumphed by establishing a false state,” Mr Kostunica said.

“Kosovo is Serbia,” Mr Kostunica said, repeating a well-known nationalist Serb saying.

The Washington Post:

Kosovo’s parliament declared the disputed territory a nation on Sunday, mounting a historic bid to become an “independent and democratic state” backed by the U.S. and European allies but bitterly contested by Serbia and Russia.

Serbia immediately denounced the declaration as illegal, and Russia also rejected it, demanding an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

President Bush said the U.S. would work to prevent violence after the declaration and the European Union appealed for calm, mindful of the risk that the declaration could plunge the turbulent Balkans back into instability.

“Kosovo is a republic _ an independent, democratic and sovereign state,” Kosovo’s parliament speaker Jakup Krasniqi said as the chamber burst into applause. Across the capital, Pristina, revelers danced in the streets, fired guns into the air and waved red and black Albanian flags in jubilation at the birth of the world’s newest country.

Sunday’s declaration was carefully orchestrated with the U.S. and key European powers, and Kosovo was counting on swift international recognition that could come as early as Monday, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels, Belgium.

Doug Muir thinks independence is the “least bad” outcome. The Serbian Church disagrees, calling for a “state of war.” For once, the Georgians agree with the Russians.

And, in fact:

The breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are planning to ask Russia and the UN to recognise their independence following the declaration of independence by Kosovo, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.

“In the near future, Abkhazia will appeal to the Russian parliament and the UN security council with a request to recognise its independence,” self-declared Abkhaz president Sergei Bagapsh was quoted as saying by Interfax.

“South Ossetia will in the near future appeal to the Commonwealth of Independent States and the UN with a request to recognise our independence,” South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoity was quoted as saying by the news agency, referring to a grouping of ex-Soviet states that includes Russia.

Both leaders said the moves were prompted by Kosovo’s decision to declare independence today.

Who will recognize Kosovo?

Diplomats said about 20 EU nations — led by Britain, France, Germany and Italy — are keen to recognize Kosovo’s break from Serbia. However, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Romania are vehemently against it. Slovakia, too, has voiced doubts but could move toward recognizing Kosovo’s statehood, diplomats said.

And over what timeframe?

Not very many advocates of national self-determination actually get states.I expect we’ll be studying this case, and dealing with its effects, for a while.

Chirol has pictures of the celebrations in Germany.

Sofia Echo has a decent backgrounder.


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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.