EU okays Kosovo mission

Updated: 2008-02-16 16:42

The European Union finally approved on Saturday the deployment of a civilian mission composed of more 1,800 personnel in Kosovo on Saturday.

The formal approval came early Saturday after two days of efforts to forge consensus among the 27-nation.

"The silent procedure was not broken," said the source, meaning that no EU nations expressed objections until midnight on Friday.

As the EU was divided over sending the mission of police, judges and customs officers to Kosovo, a low-key approval was adopted to avoid rejection.

Half a dozen EU members, such as Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Spain, have opposed the mission and Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.

The EU has been determined to okay the mission in Kosovo before the Serbian breakaway province is supposed to declare unilaterally independence on Sunday.

The EU claims that the mission would help the transition of power from the U.N. to local authorities, mainly help fighting corruption and organized crime, and hunting for war crime suspects.The U.N. has administrated Kosovo since the end of the war in 1999.

The EU is expected to start from next week the deployment of the mission, called EULEX, and complete total deployment in four months' time.

Most EU members will take part in the mission, with Germany and Italy as the backbone of it. Non-EU countries, such as Turkey, Croatia and the United States, will also make contributions.

Kosovo's unilateral independence effort has been supported by most EU nations and the United States, who said would rapidly recognize Kosovo.

But the move has not been supported by the UN, which has not authorized the EU deployment of a civilian mission to replace the UN mandate in Kosovo, where 90 percent inhabitants are ethnic Albanians.

Serbia and Russia strongly oppose Kosovo's independence, saying that the move would trigger similar moves in other part of the world.

They said the recognition of Kosovo was illegal and violating Serbia's territory integrity and sovereignty.

Top World News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours