2ND LEAD

Kosovo's parliament declares Independence

[TamilNet, Sunday, 17 February 2008, 01:47 GMT]
Kosovo's parliament has unanimously endorsed a declaration of independence from Serbia, in an historic session Sunday amid growing excitement among its ethnic Albanians, anger from its Serbs, and the launch of an EU mission to ease the birth of the world's newest state, AFP reported from Pristina, Kosovo. Tens of thousands of people had thronged the streets of Kosovo's capital, Pristina, since the morning. When news came of the declaration in parliament, the centre of the city erupted with fireworks, firecrackers and celebratory gunfire, BBC reported.

Celebrations have begun in Kosovo's capital Pristina ahead of an expected declaration of independence. Tens of thousands of Kosovans have been dancing in the streets, setting off fireworks and waving Albanian flags, BBC said in its report.

Kosovo Independence
Festive mood in Pristina (Photo: BBC)
Kosovo demography
Kosovo demography map (Graphics: BBC)
Kosovo Thanks sponsors
Pristina expresses gratitude to EU, UK and US (Photo: BBC)
In the flashpoint town of Mitrovica, in northern Kosovo, Nato peacekeeping troops have laid concrete and razor-wire barriers to separate Serbs from Albanians. Lieutenant-General Xavier de Marnhac, the French commander of the Nato peacekeepers, said his troops would react swiftly to any provocation from the Albanian or Serbian side of the divided town, BBC report added.

"The recognition of independence for Kosovo raises serious questions of international law as well as sensitive diplomatic difficulties.

"The United States and many European Union countries accept that Kosovo should no longer be formally part of Serbia.

"They will recognise a limited form of independence for Kosovo, as recommended in a report drawn up for the UN by the former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari," BBC said in a report that analyzed the legal implications of Kosovo Independence.

The EU is sending a major law and order mission to Kosovo, made up of 1,800 police and justice officials, including judges, in effect taking over from the current UN presence.

After the war over Kosovo in 1999, the UN Security Council took control. In resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999, it ordered the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (as it then was) to withdraw all its forces from Kosovo and hand Kosovo over to the UN.

Many Western governments argue that because 1244 does refer to general principles that G8 foreign ministers had agreed in advance of the resolution, these should be used as the basis for the acceptance of independence now, BBC report added.


Chronology:


External Links:
BBC: Kosovo vow as independence looms
AFP:  Excitement as Kosovo independence confirmed for Sunday
Wiki: Kosovo War
BBC: Legal furore over Kosovo recognition
BBC: Kosovo gears up for independence

 

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