Serbia: Kosovo to be independent Feb. 17
By DUSAN STOJANOVIC Associated Press Writer
Article Launched: 02/08/2008 05:38:24 AM MST
BELGRADE, SerbiaThe Serbian minister for Kosovo said
Friday that his government has information that the
province's Albanian leadership will declare
independence on Feb. 17.
Slobodan Samardzic said in a statement that "the
government of Serbia is receiving relevant
information" that Kosovo's government will "illegally
declare unilateral independence of Kosovo on Sunday,
Feb. 17." He did not specify the source of
The Kosovo Albanian leadership has said that it will
declare independence from Serbia "in a matter of
days," but has never specified the exact date.
Serbia strongly rejects the statehood of Kosovo even
though the southern province has not been under its
control since NATO's bombing in 1999 to stop a
crackdown against the Kosovo Albanian separatists.
Samardzic's statement was issued after a meeting with
a senior European Union official, Stefan Lehne, who
was in Belgrade to clarify the bloc's plans to send an
EU policing and administrative mission to Kosovo.
Serbia has rejected the EU mission, saying it would be
a prelude to the province's independence.
Samardzic said that Serbia will not sign any
cooperation agreement with the EU, arguing that it
would amount to "the signature for the independence of
The Serbian government has been deadlocked over its
ties with the EU. Nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav
Kostunica's faction rejects closer ties with the EU
because of the Kosovo issue, while the pro-Western
groups allied to President Boris Tadic advocate quick
Serbian integration into the bloc.
The United States and most EU nations support Kosovo's
independence, saying they would recognize the
province's statehood soon after it is declared by