Despite huge state-sponsored protests in Serbia, the rulers of the newly independent Kosovo say that their aim is social harmony, democracy and a plural secular settlement in the troubled region.
As soon as the breakaway province’s parliamentary body declared independence on 17 February 2008, its leaders held a press conference during which they welcoming the promise of a new European Union mission in Kosovo, expressed thanks to representatives of the international community and asked for further global cooperation.
The Kosovo parliament has pledged to fulfil its obligations as set out in a package of proposals put forward by Martti Ahtisaari, the former Finnish president and special United Nations envoy to Kosovo.
“Welcome to independent Kosovo”, Fatmir Sejdiu, the new president told the packed media gathering. He said independence was the fulfilment of the majority’s will, and he promised that the new state of Kosovo would be a democratic, secular and multi-ethnic state.
Sejdiu also promised Kosovo’s Serbian minority, many of whom are fearful about the implications of the change, that the new state authorities would protect their safety, cultural heritage, language and identity.
Meanwhile, said that the declaration of independence marked a turning point in Balkan history.
“This event will change the history of Europe and the Balkans… From now on Kosovo is an independent, sovereign republic”, declared parliamentary speaker Jakup Krasniqi Krasniqi.
Kosovo’s Albanian majority has sought independence for more than two decades, a position that was strengthened when Yugoslavia started to disintegrate in the early 1990s.
The territory has been under a United Nations administrative mission since 1999, following a NATO-led bombing campaign that pushed Serbian army and police forces out of the breakaway province.