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Kosovo gains full independence

The territory will acquire full sovereignty in September.

Kosovo Albanians holds Kosovo's national flag as Members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) march during a ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of Kosovo's independence in the main street of Kosovo capital Pristina in February 2012.
Kosovo Albanians holds Kosovo's national flag as Members of Kosovo Security Force (KSF) march during a ceremony to mark the fourth anniversary of Kosovo's independence in the main street of Kosovo capital Pristina in February 2012.
Image: AP Photo / Visar Kryeziu

THE INTERNATIONAL STEERING Group overseeing Kosovo’s independence has decided that the territory will acquire full sovereignty in September.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said ”the international supervision ends as of today”,  following a meeting in Vienna of the 25-nation ISG, which includes several EU states besides Austria as well as Turkey and the United States.

In January, the ISG had announced that Kosovo had made such progress that the “supervised independence” could be lifted by the end of the year.

This would include the closure of the International Civilian Office (ICO) led by Dutch diplomat Pieter Feith, although the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force or European rule of law mission EULEX will likely remain in place.

Kosovo, a two-million-strong majority ethnic Albanian republic, has been under some form of international administration since a NATO bombing campaign ousted Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic’s forces in 1999.

On February 17, 2008, it unilaterally declared independence from Serbia and has been recognised by 93 countries, including most EU nations.

However, it continues to face opposition from Belgrade, Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs and Russia.

In 2010 the UN’s International Court of Justice ruled that Kosovo’s secession from Serbia did not violate international law. Serbia had claimed that that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was a “flagrant violation” of Serbia’s territorial integrity.

- © AFP, 2012

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