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The International Court of Justice sitting in the Hague has ruled that Kosovo’s 2008 unilateral declaration of independence is not illegal under international law.

The court, the United Nation’s main justice body, was asked to rule on the matter by Serbia, which approached it in October 2008 after some 69 nations, including 22 European Union members, recognised Kosovo as a sovereign nation.

Serbia may have hoped for better from the court when it asked it to intervene. For Belgrade the ruling is a major setback.

For Kosovars however, it is the best result possible,
even if most people feel their independence is already assured and there is no going back to being part of Serbia.

The EU looks after Kosovo’s border security and maintains a 10,000 strong peacekeeping force. Kosovo’s Serbian minority may now seek greater self-governance for northern Kosovo, where they are in a majority, and where Serbia has created parallel administative, school and health services. The ruling also means more nations may recognise Kosovo. Currently only 69 do, although 22 of them are EU members.

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