Sunday, February 17, 2008
At 15:00 GMT today, Kosovo announced its independence from Serbia. Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi declared that Kosovo would become a democratic country and would respect the rights of all its communities. It is expected that several countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and most members of the European Union, will recognise its independence on Monday. Serbia and Russia are against an independent Kosovo. Approximately 10% of Kosovars are of Serbian descent, the majority is Albanian.
The declaration was passed unanimously by the Kosovar parliament, who subsequently signed it. The Prime Minister told MPs that “We have waited for this day for a very long time”, and that “the independence of Kosovo marks the end of the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia”. He also said that Kosovo would be working to follow the plan drawn up by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, and the United Nations. MPs have also selected a new flag (pictured on the right), showing the shape of the country in gold, on a blue background, with six white stars.
The Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica said that the declaration made Kosovo a “false state”. Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic had this to say about the declaration:
|“||Let me be very clear. The Republic of Serbia shall never accept any violation of its territorial integrity. We shall never recognise Kosovo’s independence. We shall not waiver, we shall not yield, should this cowardly act proceed unchecked. Not now. Not in a year. Not in a decade. Never.||”|
He had previously said that if Kosovo were to declare independence, “we shall undertake all diplomatic, political and economic measures designed to impede and reverse this direct and unprovoked attack on our sovereignty.”