KOSOVO DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on Sunday, ending a long chapter in the breakup of former Yugoslavia. The proclamation was made by leaders of the breakaway province's 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority, including former guerrillas who fought for independence in a 1998-99 war which claimed about 10,000 civilian lives.
"We, the leaders of our people, democratically elected, through this declaration proclaim Kosovo an independent and sovereign state," said the text read out in Parliament by Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci. Kosovo will be a "society that respects human dignity" and is committed to confronting the "painful legacy of the recent past, in a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness."
All 109 deputies present at the session in the capital, Pristina, voted in favor with a show of hands. Eleven deputies from ethnic minorities, including Serbs, were absent.
It will be the world's 193rd independent country but Serbia says it will never win a seat at the United Nations. Serbs in the north of Kosovo will reject independence, cementing an ethnic partition that will weigh on the new state for years to come. Fewer than half of Kosovo's 120,000 remaining Serbs live in the north, while the rest are in scattered enclaves protected by NATO peacekeepers. The United States and most EU members are expected to quickly recognize Kosovo, despite failing to win United Nations Security Council approval -- blocked by Russia last year.
The EU will also send a supervisory mission to take over from the current UN authorities.
MD: So far no serious incidents occured since the declaration of Kosovo's independence, but we'll see how it will be in the upcoming days/weeks. Many are afraid that this will lead to new tensions in the region, the creation of a Greater Albania and giving other regions courage to declare independency, like Abkhazia and Chechnya.