Bush recognizes Kosovo's independence
21 minutes ago
ARUSHA, Tanzania - President Bush on Monday recognized
Kosovo's bold and historic bid for statehood, saying
"The Kosavars are now independent."
Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership announced its
independence from Serbia over the weekend, and
suspense gripped the province on Monday as its
citizens awaited key backing from the United States
and key European powers.
"It's something that I've advocated along with my
government," Bush said in an interview on NBC's
By appealing directly to the U.S. and other nations
for recognition, Kosovo's independence set up a
showdown with Serbia outraged at the imminent loss
of its territory and Russia.
Kosovo had formally remained a part of Serbia even
though it has been administered by the U.N. and NATO
since 1999, when NATO airstrikes ended former Yugoslav
leader Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic
Albanian separatists, which killed 10,000 people.
In April 2007, U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari recommended
that Kosovo be granted internationally supervised
independence. But talks that followed failed to yield
an agreement between the ethnic Albanian leadership,
which pushed for full statehood, and Serbia, which was
willing to offer only autonomy.
"The Ahtisaari plan is our blueprint forward," Bush
said. "We'll watch to see how the events unfold today.
The Kosovars are now independent."
Serbia made clear it would never accept Kosovo's
statehood. On Monday, Serbia said it would seek to
block Kosovo from gaining diplomatic recognition and
membership in the U.N. and other international
Russian President Vladimir Putin has argued that
independence without U.N. approval would set a
dangerous precedent for "frozen conflicts" across the
former Soviet Union, where separatists in Chechnya and
Georgia are agitating for independence.
European Union nations have stood deeply divided over
whether to recognize Kosovo's independence as their
foreign ministers gathered in Brussels, Belgium, to
try to forge a common stance. Britain, France, Germany
and Ireland indicated they would push ahead with
recognition. But Spain, which has struggled with its
own separatist movement in the Basque region, called
Kosovo's declaration illegal.
On Sunday, Bush said the U.S. will work to prevent
violent clashes following the historic announcement.
"The United States will continue to work with our
allies to do the very best we can to make sure there's
no violence," Bush said several hours before Kosovo's
parliament approved the declaration.
Associated Press Writers William J. Kole and Nebi Qena
in Pristina, Dusan Stojanovic in Kosovska Mitrovica
and Jovana Gec in Belgrade contributed to this report.