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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 minister said the step could destroy established international conventions of order and stability.

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Within Russia, The Moscow Times reports, even Mr. Lavrov's statement was not enough for some legislators. Kostantin Kosachyov, chairman of the Russian parliament's international affairs committee warned that Kosovo's recognition would encourage separatists in former parts of the Soviet Union.

"There are a lot of countries that have their own Abkhazias and South Ossetias, and half of them are on former Soviet territory ... and they will take serious offense," Kosachyov told Russian News Service radio. He added that already troubled relations with Georgia and the West would also suffer.

In contrast, Kosovo's Albanian population appeared jubilant Sunday, pouring onto streets to celebrate independence, reports the Bulgarian Sofia News Agency.

The Associated Press reports that the experience of other new states could offer clues as to the future of Kosovo. It has joined the ranks of Montenegro and East Timor as three states formed in the 21st century. Some analysts have warned that Kosovo will face major challenges in reaching the economic success of Montenegro avoiding the path of impoverished East Timor.

Montenegro has prospered since breaking with Serbia nearly two years ago with a peaceful referendum. Montenegro's economy today is booming with annual economic growth at 7 percent and foreign direct investment of $950 million, the highest per capita in Europe.

East Timor, by contrast, has been wracked by political instability and violence, including the attempted assassination of its prime minister and president on Feb. 11. It has struggled to provide jobs for its 1 million people. Unfulfilled expectations for improved living standards led to riots and protests that culminated in a military mutiny that triggered the government's collapse and an Australian-led military intervention.

Some analysts warn that Kosovo faces similar challenges to East Timor. Despite the influx of billions of dollars since Kosovo came under NATO protection and UN administration following the 1999 war that forced a withdrawal of Serb forces, Kosovo is one of Europe's poorest countries. Communist-era infrastructure is collapsing with current unemployment at over 50 percent. But Kosovo also has significant natural resources, including some of the largest lignite coal deposits in Europe.

One analyst expects the nation to develop quickly, reports the Associated Press:

"In a generation, Kosovo could become a major electricity exporting country, in a power-hungry region," said James Pettifer, a British academic and Balkan specialist.
"But the investments needed are long-termed and even under the most benign conditions would take time to come to fruition."

EU official Pieter Feith began his mandate as EU special representative to Kosovo, reports Agence France-Presse. Mr. Feith is to head the international civilian mission that will oversee Kosovo's independence. Dubbed EULUX, he said the EU misison would be present in minority Serb districts that oppose independence.

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