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2700Serbia: Kosovo to be independent Feb. 17

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  • Greg Cannon
    Feb 8, 2008

      Serbia: Kosovo to be independent Feb. 17
      By DUSAN STOJANOVIC Associated Press Writer
      Article Launched: 02/08/2008 05:38:24 AM MST

      BELGRADE, Serbia¬óThe 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
      Kosovo Albanians.