Kosovo declares independence from Serbia
By Shaban Buza 5 minutes ago
PRISTINA, Serbia (Reuters) - Kosovo declared
independence from Serbia on Sunday, ending a long
chapter in the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia.
The proclamation was made by leaders of the breakaway
province's 90 percent ethnic Albanian majority,
including former guerrillas who fought for
independence in a 1998-99 war which claimed about
10,000 civilian lives.
"We, the leaders of our people, democratically
elected, through this declaration proclaim Kosovo an
independent and sovereign state," said the text read
out in parliament by Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim
Kosovo will be a "society that respects human dignity"
and is committed to confronting the "painful legacy of
the recent past, in a spirit of reconciliation and
All 109 deputies present at the session in the capital
Pristina voted in favor with a show of hands. Eleven
deputies from ethnic minorities, including Serbs, were
Belgrade bitterly opposes the secession. Backed by
Russia, Serbs vow never to give up the territory, in
which their history goes back 1,000 years.
But the West supports the demand of Kosovo's 2 million
ethnic Albanians for their own state, nine years after
NATO went to war to save them from Serbian forces.
Kosovo will be the sixth state carved from the former
Serbian-dominated Yugoslav federation since 1991,
after Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and
It will be the world's 193rd independent country but
Serbia says it will never win a seat at the United
Serbs in the north of Kosovo will reject independence,
cementing an ethnic partition that will weigh on the
new state for years to come. Fewer than half of
Kosovo's 120,000 remaining Serbs live in the north,
while the rest are in scattered enclaves protected by
The United States and most EU members are expected to
quickly recognize Kosovo, despite failing to win
United Nations Security Council approval -- blocked by
Russia last year.
The EU will also send a supervisory mission to take
over from the current U.N. authorities.
(Writing by Douglas Hamilton; editing by Ellie Tzortzi
and Richard Meares)