EU - Kosovo bonds with US, EU powers on day one of independence
Newly-independent Kosovo moved quickly to seal diplomatic relations with Britain, France, Turkey and the United States
PRISTINA, February 19, 2008 - Newly-independent Kosovo moved quickly
Monday to seal diplomatic relations with Britain, France, Turkey and the
United States, to the soundtrack of a third boisterous night of celebrations.
Pristina-based diplomats from the four NATO allies filed through the office
of President Fatmir Sejdiu to present formal letters of recognition from their
capitals, a day after Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia.
"Today the Republic of Kosovo has been recognized by the most powerful
states in the world," Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told reporters, as revellers
poured backed onto the streets of the capital Pristina.
He reiterated that Kosovo would seek membership of international
institutions -- "including the United Nations" -- in the coming days.
Thaci added that he was in contact with the capitals of all European Union
member states, including Spain, which -- in the face of separatism in its
Basque region -- is refusing to officially acknowledge Europe's newest nation.
"I can understand the domestic situation in Spain," he said, adding that he
nevertheless expected Madrid's recognition in due course.
The survival of Kosovo -- small, landlocked, underdeveloped by European
standards, and highly dependent on infusions of US and European aid -- will
hinge very much on who its friends will be on the international stage.
Independence is bitterly opposed by Serbia, which covets Kosovo as the
cradle of Serb culture and religion, and by Russia. Many countries facing
separatist movements also have reservations.
As diplomatic formalities were played out in Pristina, Belgrade recalled
its ambassador in Washington, and Serbian President Boris Tadic warned the UN
Security Council of "irreparable damage" to the world order.
On the streets of Pristina, euphoric revellers waved US as well as Albanian
flags, lit firecrackers, blew whistles and honked car horns, in scenes
reminescent of independence eve and, on Sunday, independence night.
"It's an explosion of emotion," said one, as folk dancers performed in the
forecourt of the presidency where the foreign diplomats took turns meeting
Sejdiu and Thaci.
Turkey's representative in Pristina, Mustafa Sarnic, was the first to
present letters from his government -- historically telling, as Turkey emerged
from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire that once long ruled the Balkans.
But he deferred making the first public statement to Britain's envoy David
Blunt, who was followed by French representive Delphine Borione and, finally,
the head of the US mission in Pristina, Tina Kaidanow.
In presenting her letter from US President George W. Bush, Kaidanow said:
"The United States welcomes Kosovo's desire to attain the highest standards of
She also underlined a "special relationship" between the United States and
Kosovo, where Bush's predecessor Bill Clinton enjoys hero status for launching
the 1999 NATO air war to wrested the province from Belgrade's control.
Technically, Kosovo -- wrested from Belgrade's rule by a NATO air war in
1999 -- remains under interim UN administration, but that mission is expected
to be wound up in a matter of weeks.
Still pending is the full deployment of a 2,000-strong European Union
police and judicial mission that is expected to wield substantial influence as
it aims to smoothen Kosovo's transition to sovereignty.