Thursday, January 03, 2008

Kosovo will declare independence 'very soon,' President Sejdiu says

Kosovo will declare independence from Serbia shortly, President Fatmir Sejdiu said Saturday. He did not, however, name a date.

"At this moment, I cannot define the precise date when Kosovo will proclaim independence, but I can say it will happen very soon," Sejdiu said after talks with Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski.

"For us, there is no alternative to independence," he said.

Although it is formally a part of Serbia, Kosovo has been run by the U.N. since 1999, when NATO airstrikes ended a bloody crackdown by Serbian forces on ethnic Albanian separatists.

Talks this week between independence-seeking ethnic Albanians and Serbs bent on keeping the province reached a dead end.

Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians refused to soften their demand for full independence, increasing the likelihood the province will declare statehood unilaterally in the coming months. International mediators overseeing the talks are due to report to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon by Dec. 10.

Crvenkovski said his tiny Balkan state — which has a restless ethnic Albanian minority of its own — would not be the first country to recognize Kosovo's independence.

"The only logical way is that Macedonia, as a candidate member for NATO and the EU, will follow their common policy," he said.

Sejdiu was in Macedonia for a one day visit.

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