Kosovo declares independence from Serbia

Kosovo declares independence from Serbia
Swissinfo.ch - Feb 17, 2008

Around a thousand Kosovo Albanian emigrants celebrate in front of parliament in Bern (Keystone)Kosovo has declared itself a nation, ending a long chapter in the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia.
Across Switzerland, which in 2005 became the first state worldwide to call for formal independence, thousands of Kosovars celebrated the birth of the world's newest country on Sunday afternoon by driving through towns and waving flags.

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey on Sunday repeated Switzerland's "total support" for Kosovo and said the issue of recognising the state would be discussed by the government over the coming weeks. Only then, the foreign ministry added, would talks on diplomatic relations be possible.

"From today onwards, Kosovo is proud, independent and free," said Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which battled Serbian troops in a 1998-99 separatist war that claimed 10,000 lives.

Belgrade bitterly opposes the secession. Backed by Russia, Serbs vow never to give up the territory, in which their history goes back 1,000 years. But the West supports the demand of Kosovo's two million ethnic Albanians for their own state, nine years after Nato went to war to save them from Serbian forces.

Kosovo will be the sixth state carved from the former Serbian-dominated Yugoslav federation since 1991, after Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Montenegro.

Serbs in the north of Kosovo, adjoining Serbia proper, 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.

Swiss support
Switzerland is home to ten per cent of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, making its fate a prominent political issue. Micheline Calmy-Rey has publicly declared her support for the province's independence and it was recently announced that a Swiss peacekeeping force would remain there until 2011.

Calmy-Rey, speaking on Sunday morning at a Mass for the Catholic Albanian mission in Wil, northeastern Switzerland, told the audience: "You have the privilege, but also the responsibility, to seize the opportunity to create out of your homeland a role model for Europe and for the world."

She urged those present to become ambassadors for a Kosovo "that would not become a mono-ethnic state but would view diversity and the protection of minorities as a true strength and value".

Calmy-Rey added that the protection of linguistic and religious minorities could only work with strong institutions, the will of the people and the "support, or at least the goodwill, of the powerful".

Not all Swiss however have been so supportive of an independent Kosovo. Swiss law professor Thomas Fleiner, who is also an advisor to the Serbian government, has claimed that Swiss support for Kosovo's independence is unconstitutional.

He said article 54 of the constitution requires Switzerland to do all it can to contribute to the "peaceful coexistence of peoples". A solution based on a compromise between the Serbs and the Kosovars would bring more security than a unilateral declaration of independence, he has argued.

On Sunday the Swiss foreign ministry added that it intended to keep on good terms with Serbia, pointing out it had supported the Serbian people and government during "dark years".

Divided EU
Sunday's declaration was carefully orchestrated with the US and key European powers, and Kosovo was counting on swift international recognition that could come as early as Monday, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels, Belgium.

However, the European Union's 27 nations were divided on Sunday over whether to recognise Kosovo's statehood.

Diplomats said about 20 EU nations – led by Britain, France, Germany and Italy – were keen to recognise Kosovo's break from Serbia. However, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Romania were vehemently against it. Slovakia, too, has voiced doubts but could move toward recognising Kosovo's statehood, diplomats said.

After the declaration of independence the 15-member UN Security Council, which also remains deeply divided on the future of Kosovo, said it was planning to meet on Sunday in an emergency session at the request of Russia.

swissinfo with agencies

HISTORY OF KOSOVO AND SERBIA: Until the 14th century Kosovo was the centre of the Serbian empire. It occupies a special place in Serbian history as the site of the battle of Kosovo Polje of 1389, in which the Ottomans smashed the Serbian army, and which became a symbol for Serbian resistance to the Ottomans.

After the Second World War Kosovo became an autonomous area within Serbia.

The Serbian army occupied the province in 1999. Hundreds of thousands of people fled the ensuing conflict – many of them to Switzerland. In the summer of 1999 Nato intervention forced the Serbs to withdraw.

Kosovo was placed under a transitional UN administration at the end of the war. Elections held in 2007 brought to power the Albanian Democratic Party, which had promised to declare independence.


CONTEXT Kosovo has been run by the United Nations, backed by Nato troops, since the alliance's 1999 bombing campaign to end a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

The 90% Albanian majority reject return to Serb rule. Newly elected leaders of the province promised to coordinate a declaration of independence with the US and the EU, which is due to take over supervision of the territory from the UN.

Also See: Kosovo 'tool kit for separatists' - BBC

FACTBOX: Where do countries stand on Kosovo? - Reuters


Pakistani Dream said…
It will be interesting to see if EU invites the Kosova to join the Union.
Anonymous said…
More than four IIIyrian Entities compose Albania.
All of them speaks Illyrian language but with different dialects. Three first has a very distinct Illyrian dialect named GEGE and the rest has another Illyrian dialect named TOSKE.
On 1912 they united in one single state and agreed to be named Eagle’s Land. SHQIPERIA.
The foreign “SKOLARS” named Albania based on the name of only one of the Entities.
This was not only Ignorance but also a big mistake of these “very educated Scholars“.
The situation then was so critical for SHQIPETARET, so they accepted any injustice and compromise. This was the big price they pay to gain the independence. Of course many other Illyrian entities was ignored. This has been done in purpose to use Illyrian territories as a trade merchandise to please slavics, which in return were used in two wars. The Slavics paid their price. They lost 56 million people 1908 – 1946. Illyrian paid bigger price. They were spread over 5 different states.
It's about time to recognize the historical right of Kosova (Dardania) to have its destiny fulfilled-That is full independence. Kosova never was a Serbian province. It was there, since the times of birth of European civilization, a very distinct Dardanian/llyrian identity. Always populated by Dardanias who, although under constant pressure of forcefully migration by Serbian shovinism, Tito's Yugoslavia & Milloshevic's Serbia, still make up 92% of the population. They speak ilirian language with the dialect GEGE. Serbs always have been a minority there. We know that Serbs appeared in Balkans (then llyria) only by the 6th Century AD, and they speak a language more similar to Ukrainian then Russian. They have always been a minority and 'the story' of Kosova being the Heartland of Serbia is just a pure Serbian nationalist fantasy. Facts Speak Louder Than Words and Serbian’s Lies Will Collapse by Themselves. Serbs always have been considered as oppressors there, not just by Albanian majority, but also by other ethnic groups too. Serbs just occupied Kosova during the rise of the Serbian nationalism early 20th century from Ottomans, who by then were loosing the Balkans after 500 years of occupation. The borders of Kosova are well established and recognized. Now Kosova should be Free!
To find the answer for the question “do you think Kosovo’s independence will strengthen separatist movements elsewhere”, please refer to:
Erich Hartman – top ace of all the time. German Luftwaffe Bf 109 Pilot.
Near the end of WWII, in early May 1945, Hartmann, then Gruppenkommandeur of famous Jagdgeschwader 52, and his Commodore, Hermann Graf, ground crew, family members, and other civilians, who had joined the squadron, seeking protection approaching Russian army, moved west in direction of territory already occupied by US troops. On May 8th, 1945, the soldiers and civilians surrendered to US troops in the region between Bavaria (German province) and Czech border. But on May 17th, the US Army delivered all of these German troops and civilians to the Red Army. How did the Russian troops treat the civilians? They tortured, raped German woman, children at least 12 years old. Some woman were shot after the rapes. Others were not so lucky. A twelve year old girl whose mother had been raped and shoot being raped by several solders. She died from these acts soon afterward. Then more Russian came, and it began all over again. During the night, entire German families committed suicide with men killing their wives and daughters, then themselves. This is the way the slavics treat the human been, the innocent civilians. This is the way the Serbs treated innocent Croatian, Bosnian and Dardanian civilians. If any entity of human been will be treated like that, then they are in title to ask and gain the independence.

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