Russia has warned that if, as expected, Kosovo achieves its independence from Serbia, it will encourage separatists across the world. Moscow is a close ally of Serbia and both strongly oppose Kosovo’s plans to unilaterally declare independence within months.
Alluding to pro-Russian separatist movements in Georgia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “It will set a precedent for several territories, not only Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but – according to our figures – for some 200 regions in states around the world. If we allow someone to do something, many others will expect the same treatment.”
Belgrade wants to hold on to what it sees as an important part of Serbian cultural heritage. But ethnic Albanians, who make up around 90 per cent of the province’s population, have long been waiting for independence.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci assures them the wait will soon be over. “We’ll proclaim our independence as soon as possible. Everything that we will do, we’ll do through our close cooperation and coordination with our partners Washington and Brussels,” he said.
Washington and Brussels back Kosovo’s plans, although some EU countries have voiced concerns. The EU has proposed a 1,800-strong force to replace the UN mission that’s been in place since 1999.