Kosovo independence 'a reality'

Kosovo’s independence is a reality, Montenegro’s foreign minister said today, suggesting his government would recognise the new state even though that would anger traditional ally Serbia.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February. It has won recognition from the US and most nations in the European Union. But Serbia – backed by Russia – has refused to acknowledge the split.

Montenegrin recognition of Kosovo would be a major blow to Serbia, because the two Balkan republics have close historical and cultural ties. Montenegro was the only former Yugoslav republic which stayed in the union with Serbia after the federation broke up in 1991. Montenegro split from Serbia in 2006.

Serbian officials have appealed to neighbouring states to refrain from recognising Kosovo. In a latest bid to maintain claim on the region, Serbia has moved to question Kosovo independence at the International Court of Justice.

But Montenegrin foreign minister Milan Rocen said during a parliamentary debate that “an independent Kosovo is a political reality ... and Montenegro has no right to close its eyes before that fact”.

He said it was up to individual countries to decide whether to recognise Kosovo or not.

In Pristina, Kosovo’s President Fatmir Sejdiu urged Montenegro and Macedonia, another former Yugoslav republic, to recognise Kosovo’s independence quickly.

“It is a good answer from countries that are now sovereign and with which we were in a state union that is now destroyed and does not exist,” Sejdiu said.

Kosovo has been run by a UN administration since a 1998-99 war.

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