Kosovo is voting in the second round of local elections, amid growing certainty the province is headed for independence from Serbia. Ahead of Monday’s deadline by the West for a solution on the issue, Agron Bajrami, editor of the Albanian paper Koha Ditore, said: “I think the 10th of December will confirm what we all expect, that the additional process of negotiations led by the Contact Group, Troika, has failed, and therefore, after the 10th, we would expect a new process to begin, which should conclude with a declaration of independence of Kosovo.”
Russia is calling for more time for talks, insisting a solution is still possible. But ethnic Albanian leaders in Kosovo say they are ready to unilaterally declare independence. Moscow is backing Belgrade’s resistance to the move, warning it will set a dangerous precedent in Europe.
“Things won’t get better,” said one Belgrade resident. “I think Albanians will be independent. I hope violent doesn’t escalate in Kosovo and Serbia.” Yesterday NATO leaders pledged to maintain and possibly increase their forces in Kosovo, which has been run by the UN since 1999.