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Kosovo towards full independence

Tue 3 Jul 2012 Kosovo towards full independence

On 1 July it was announced by the International Steering Group (ISG) that Kosovo is about to receive full independency in September, almost four years after breaking away from Serbia. The ISG currently oversees the independence of Kosovo. The decision effectively means the end of international administration and supervision of Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence in 2008, but the NATO-led Kosovo peacekeeping force (K-For) or European rule of law mission EULEX will likely remain in place.

On February 17, 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia and has been recognised by 91 countries, including most EU nations. In January 2012, the 25-nation ISG that includes several EU, Austria, Turkey and the US, had announced that the Balkan territory had made such progress that "supervised independence" could be lifted by the end of the year. On 1 July, the ISG congratulated Kosovo for fulfilling the conditions required by the so-called Comprehensive Settlement Proposal (CSP), "including (passing) laws on cultural and religious heritage, community rights and decentralisation".

Hashim Thaci, the Kosovo prime minister, who attended the meeting, said it was an "historic day" and a "new step for Kosovo" but Serbia warned that the decision could pose a risk for ethnic Serbs. "When any international mission in Kosovo leaves, it can mean a greater danger for both Serbs and Serbia," Oliver Ivanovic, Serbia's state secretary for Kosovo said. Although the Kosovo's Serb community rejected the 25-nation ISG, Ivanovic acknowledged that Serbs and Albanians "are not able to function" without international mediation.

Last week, on 28 June more than 50 people got injured in clashes between police and Serbs who were visiting a historic battle site near the Kosovarian capital Pristina where the Ottoman Empire defeated the Serb army in the 19th century. The clashes took place after police said the Serbs were disturbing public order and turned them back. Nato peacekeepers said "this shameful action is contrary to the integrity of the maintenance of a safe and secure environment for all people in Kosovo".

Al Jazeera

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