Kosovo awaits recognition, China deeply concerned

Updated: 2008-02-18 11:49

Kosovo looked forward on Monday to recognition by the Western powers headed by the United States, who went to war to save its Albanian majority, but Russia served notice the new state will never be forced on its Serb allies.

Kosovars wave US flags as they celebrate Kosovo's declaration of independence in Kosovo's capital Pristina, February 17, 2008. Kosovo's parliament declared the disputed territory a nation on Sunday, mounting a historic bid to become an 'independent and sovereign state' backed by the US and key European allies but bitterly contested by Serbia and Russia.[Agencies]Related Pictures

Fireworks brought to close a day of celebration in the Kosovo city of Pristina, where parliament adopted a declaration of independence from Serbia and proclaimed the new Republic of Kosovo a "sovereign state".

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Kosovo's 2 million Albanians were left guessing which country would be first to recognize the sixth state to be carved from former Yugoslavia. European Union foreign ministers meet on Monday to discuss Kosovo's secession from Serbia. Swift recognition is expected from Britain, Germany, France and Italy as well as the United States, the Reuters reported.

Proposing the independence declaration to parliament, Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said Kosovo would be a country of "all its citizens," a gesture to the 120,000 Serbs still living in its territory.

But Serbia and Russia swept that aside quickly.

"We'll strongly warn against any attempts at repressive measures should Serbs in Kosovo decide not to comply with this unilateral proclamation of independence," Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said ahead of an emergency session of the UN Security Council, which is called by Moscow.

Serbs in Kosovo, with the full backing of Belgrade, reject the territory's secession, reinforcing an ethnic partition that NATO and the United Nations have failed to erase since the 1998-99 war.

Serbian riot policemen clash with young protesters in front of the US embassy in Belgrade February 17, 2008. Kosovo Albanians declared independence on Sunday, drawing instant condemnation from Serbia and triggering angry scenes outside the US embassy in Belgrade.[Agencies]Related Pictures

Protests were called for midday on Monday in Serb towns in Kosovo, the Reuters reported.

In New York, seven Western countries sitting on the UN Security Council said the body could not agree on the future of Kosovo. NATO troops bombed Kosovo for 11 weeks in 1999 to force a withdrawal of Serb forces, and the United Nations has taken control ever since.

Beijing: China deeply concerned

China expressed grave concern over Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao on Monday.

"Kosovo's unilateral act can produce a series of results that will lead to seriously negative influence on peace and stability in the Balkan region and on the realization of building a multi-ethnic society in Kosovo, which China is deeply concerned about," said the Chinese spokesman.

Beijing said the settlement of the Kosovo issue concerns the peace and stability in the Balkan region, the basic norms governing international relations and the authority and role of the UN Security Council.

The spokesman added that China has always held that the best way to resolve the Kosovo issue is that Serbia and Kosovo reach a plan acceptable for both sides through negotiation.

"China calls on the two sides of Serbia and Kosovo to continue to seek a proper solution through negotiation within the framework of international law, and the international community should create favorable conditions for this," Liu said.

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