Kosovo Declares Independence
After months of international suspense, Kosovo has declared its independence. In a special session Sunday morning, the Kosovar parliament voted 109-0 in favor of severing ties with Serbia. “From now onward, Kosovo is proud, independent, sovereign and free,'’ said Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a former anti-Serb guerrilla leader.
After the declaration, Thaci personally signed 192 letters to nations around the world asking them to recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state.
Serbia remains strongly opposed to Kosovo’s independence. Serbian President Boris Tadic said that “Serbia will … do everything in its power to revoke the unilateral and illegal declaration of independence.”
In its attempts to annul Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Serbia is relying mainly on Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that any attempt by Kosovo to declare independence would be “immoral” and “illegal.”
Now that Kosovo has actually declared independence, Russia has called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and asked both the United Nations and nato to annul Kosovo’s declaration.
While Russia and Serbia are adamantly calling for Kosovo’s independence to go unrecognized, 20 or so EU nations—led by Germany, France, Italy and Britain—are planning to officially recognize Kosovo as an independent state. On Saturday, the European Union approved the deployment of an 1,800-strong EU peacekeeping force to Kosovo in order to secure the region and prevent the outbreak of violence.
United States President George Bush supports limited independence for Kosovo under international supervision.
America is taking Europe’s side in what could be a showdown between the EU and Russia. This issue goes far beyond Serbia and its breakaway province. Kosovo is relying on Europe to support and protect it, and Serbia could not stand against Europe if it were not for the fact that it has Russia’s support. Neither side can back down without being humiliated on the international scene—so if war is to be averted, expect both Europe and Russia to start making concessions as they work toward an EU-Russian treaty.