Kosovo wins recognition from US, European powers

Ethnic Albanians pour into the streets to cheer and dance as word of the recognition spreads.

kosovo government 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
kosovo government 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The US and major European powers said Monday they would recognize Kosovo a day after the province's ethnic Albanian leaders declared independence from Serbia. Giddy Kosovars danced in the streets. Kosovo's leaders sent letters to 192 countries seeking formal recognition and Britain, France and Germany endorsed the declaration. But other European Union nations were opposed, including Spain which has battled a violent Basque separatist movement for decades. US President George W. Bush said "the Kosovars are now independent." "It's something that I've advocated along with my government," Bush said in an interview on NBC's "Today." As word of the recognition spread, ethnic Albanians poured into the streets of Pristina, the capital, to cheer and dance. The republic's new flag - a blue banner with a yellow silhouette of Kosovo and six white stars representing each of the main ethnic groups - fluttered from homes and offices. But Serb-controlled northern Kosovo was tense, with thousands demonstrating against independence and an explosion damaging a UN vehicle. No one was hurt. By sidestepping the UN. and appealing directly to the US and other nations for recognition, Kosovo's independence set up a showdown with Serbia, outraged at the imminent loss of its territory, and Russia, which warned it would set a dangerous precedent for separatist groups worldwide. Russia persuaded the UN Security Council to meet in emergency session Sunday in an attempt to block Kosovo's secession. The council was to meet again later Monday. Despite calls for restraint, tensions flared in northern Kosovo, home to most of the territory's 100,000 minority Serbs. An explosion damaged a UN vehicle outside the ethnically divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica, where thousands of Serbs demonstrated, chanting "this is Serbia!" The crowds marched to a bridge spanning a river dividing the town between the ethnic Albanian and Serbian sides. They were confronted by NATO peacekeepers guarding the bridge, but there was no violence.