NATO guards Kosovo border amid Serb tension
The territory's declaration of independence has caused international ripples; analysts look to East Timor and Montenegro as examples of how Kosovo might fare.
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The Washington Post reports violent Serb demonstrations were symbolic of the minority group's determination to resist the idea that a new international border had been created. Serbs make up just over 5 percent of the population; 90 percent of the territory is ethnically Albanian. A map of the country's ethnic makeup can be found on the BBC's website.Skip to next paragraph
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"This is Serbia," said Dragan Mitrovic, a 48-year-old resident of Mitrovica, which is about 18 miles south of the border posts. "The Serbian army and Serbian police should be here."
Such sentiments, international officials worry, could inflame tensions and destabilize the new state. The Washington Post reports that international officials were concerned Serbian radicals were being bused into northern Kosovo, close to the border, and could try to provoke a violent response from the former Serbian province into crisis. Neighboring Serbia strongly opposes independence in Kosovo, which it considers to be part of its own territory.
A EU mission plans to supervise Kosovo's independence, but will not deploy for 120 days, allowing some time for anger to dispel within Belgrade, Serbia's capital.
The commander of the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo Wednesday blamed minority Serb leaders for the attacks on two border posts, Agence France-Presse reports.
"Some local leaders took a huge responsibility yesterday," the French general told reporters in Pristina, adding: "The leaders should think deeply of their responsibility when they trigger this type of demonstration."
Germany joined the growing rank of nations in recognizing Kosovo, the third major EU power to do so. The 27-member EU remains sharply divided over the issue.
Eighteen EU member states overall have backed Kosovo's independence, either formally recognizing it, or declaring their intention to do so. Three others – Cyprus, Romania, and Spain – have explicitly refused recognition.
Serbia's parliament declared the split illegal and recalled its ambassadors from nations that recognized Kosovo's independence. Russia's foreign ministry has sent angry letters of protest to their capitals.
Russia, Serbia's strongest international ally, said the deployment of an EU police and judicial mission to Kosovo had no legal basis. The Russian Itar-Tass news agency reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Russia had confirmed its position on "non-acceptance of Pristina's unilateral actions on declaration of the region's independence."