Kosovo declares independence from Serbia!

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  1. http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/02/17/kosovo.independence/index.html

    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.
    [​IMG] In Kosovska Mitrovica, a Kosovar Albanian waves an Albanian flag from his rooftop Sunday.


    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. [​IMG] Watch celebrations in the streets of Pristina »
    "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 Sunday.
    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 America."
    "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.
    Thaci 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
  2. Good for the Kosovan people! I hope that with the aid of the EU Kosovo becomes a prosperous country.
  3. I am so happy:smile: I am Albanian and ever since I was young I remember what they went through and all the people that were killed..I was very fortunate to not have lost an of my family member because they all lmoved to Ulqin, Yugoslavia because of the violence. Without America this would have never happened:heart:
  4. Wow!!! Congrats to the people of Kosovo!
  5. cnn.com

    Reports: Serb protesters attack U.S. embassy

    (CNN) -- Violence broke out Thursday as tens of thousands of Serbs protested Kosovo independence and reportedly set fire to the facade of the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, according to news agencies.
    [​IMG] An estimated 150,000 protesters took to the streets in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

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    Riot police fired tear gas at Serb rioters as protesters wearing masks broke into the embassy, according to the Associated Press and Reuters. The embassy was reportedly closed and not staffed
    Chanting 'Kosovo is Serbia," the crowds vowed to never accept the province's independence.
    Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, who earlier addressed the rally, said "Kosovo is Serbia's first name." He called the declaration of independence last Sunday illegal and has vowed to work to get it annulled.
    State railroads provided free transport to protesters, and schools across the country were closed Thursday for the "Kosovo is Ours" rally in the Serb capital, The Associated Press reported. [​IMG]Watch the Serb protests »
    Tensions also erupted at the Kosovo border checkpoint in Merdare -- about 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Kosovo's capital Pristina -- as several hundred Serbian army reservists clashed with NATO-led peacekeepers and police, AP said.
    Photographs showed demonstrators, many of them wearing their reservist uniform, hurling rocks and setting tires alight to create a wall of smoke before they charged past the checkpoint shouting "Kosovo is ours! Kosovo is Serbia.
    U.N. police said the demonstrators had come by bus from the Serbian town of Kursumlija and were largely army veterans who had fought with the Serbian side in Kosovo's 1998-1999 war, AP reported.
    Following the clashes, the demonstrators dismantled and returned to the Serbian side of the checkpoint, according to AP.
    Meanwhile several hundred Bosnian Serbs rallied in the Bosnian city of Banja Luka and in the Sarajevo suburb of Lukavica, AP said.
    Students in Lukavica were seen waving Serbian flags and singing Serbian patriotic songs while police in Banja Luka were stopping demonstrators from marching on the U.S. consulate there.
    The breakaway region has been recognized by the U.S. and several EU nations including the UK, France and Germany but the government in Belgrade maintains that Kosovo is a part of Serbia.
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    Amid simmering tensions in northern Kosovo, home to most of the region's Serb minority, there were fears that Thursday's rally could spill over into violence, as was seen at the Merdare border crossing, following attacks by Serb nationalists on western targets in Belgrade including the U.S. embassy earlier this week.
    The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade advised American citizens to stay away from the gathering, warning that "businesses and organizations with U.S. affiliations may serve as focal points for these demonstrations."
    "We wish to remind American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any protests," a statement said.
    On Thursday, Italy became the latest European nation to recognize Kosovo's sovereignty, AP reported.
    "The recognition of Kosovo's independence does not take away anything from our closeness to Serbia," Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi told reporters.
    Speaking in Romania on Thursday, Serbia's recently re-elected president, Boris Tadic, insisted his country would not cut itself off from the rest of Europe or give up its quest for EU membership amid rising anti-Western sentiment.
    "Serbia will not take the path of isolation," Tadic said in Bucharest, AP reported. "Serbia will not give up its future in Europe."
    Russia and China continue to oppose Kosovo's declaration of independence while Spain has expressed concern that recognition will give momentum to secessionist movements in other countries, such as the Basques in northern Spain.
    On Wednesday, the commander of NATO forces in Kosovo said he did not plan to step up security despite violent attacks by Kosovo Serbs which forced the temporary closure of two boundary crossings between Kosovo and Serbia.
    "We are going to maintain security in those two locations, but I do not intend to deploy any more forces there for the time being," Lt. Gen. Xavier de Marnhac told the news conference, a day after protesters set fire to the crossings. [​IMG]Watch flames ravage border posts. »
    The U.N. special representative to Kosovo, Joachim Ruecker, said the attacks were unacceptable.
    "Violence is absolutely not an option and will not be tolerated in Kosovo," Ruecker told a news conference Wednesday. But he added, "I tend to see this as a one-time incident, and I think it was responded to in an appropriate way."

    KFOR troops, which number 16,000, have mostly been patrolling Kosovo's international borders, which have not included the boundary line with Serbia.
    After Tuesday's attacks, however, Ruecker requested that KFOR troops deploy to the two crossing points, a spokesman for UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) said.
    The European Union is also sending in a force of 1,900 police officers, customs and judicial officials to support Kosovo's police force.

    Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu met Wednesday with new EU special representative, Pieter Feith, and afterward tried to reassure Kosovo's Serbs that they will be protected.
    "What is important for us is that we invite all of Kosovo's citizens, especially Serbs, to return to and share lives as soon as possible, especially the part of the population that has second thoughts about it," Sejdiu told a news conference. "Kosovo is one, internationally supported and with a vision for the future."
  6. This is just disgusting!
  7. Can't believe what I'm watching. This is truly sad. It started out as a peaceful protest.
  8. why is the West against the Serbs? what did they do specifically? Is it because they are upset by all the violence of the Albanians?

    and congrats to Kosovo for their independence!!
  9. This is my basic understanding of the conflict. Serbs have systematically oppressed ethnic Albanians for years. Albanians have stood up for themselves, and the world community has supported that. The violence being perpetrated right now are "fringe" Serbian groups upset about the Albanian declaration of independence. It seems like some of these folks were part of paramilitary serbian groups in the past responsible for persecution of Albanians.

    Italy, France, and Britain have supported Kosovo Independence, while Russia and China have come out against it.

    Hope that helps.
  10. No the serbs have caused the violence...The serbs are upset that Kosova has independence.

  11. :tup: Perfectly explained..
  12. Thanks. It's hard to keep track as an outsider, but I try to understand.
  13. thank you so much for taking the time to explain it to me.

    And the Serbs are disturbed by this independence because the land that is now officially Kosovo is what the Serbs think is the beginning of their civilization? Over land?
  14. You're welcome. I don't know if it is a land dispute as much as it is just ethnic hatred, nationalism and the feeling of being betrayed by the West. NATO bombed Serbia 7 years ago because of the Hitler-like treatment of the Albanians by Slovadon Milokevitch-my spelling is horrible.

    It was thought at the time that despite the past experience of the Albanians, Serbs and Albanians could exist as one country. Now, after 7 years of efforts of being one country, Kosovo has decided this will not work, and declared independence. Serbs feel obviously that Kosovo is wrong and should stay one country.
  15. The Serbs think that the Kosovo had no rights to secede from Serbia (history notwithstanding) and are now pissed off at all those countries that support K's claim for sovereignty.
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