Cyprus is the European Union’s lone holdout in supporting independence for Kosovo. Gee, why is that? Could it be their common history with Serbia with respect to having its territory eaten away for the sake of Muslim interests? “Pre-independence euphoria in Kosovo,” by William J. Kole for the Associated Press:
PRISTINA, Serbia – Thousands of wildly cheering pro-independence demonstrators marched through Kosovo’s gritty capital Monday as a sense of euphoria swept the breakaway province preparing to gain statehood early next year.
Kosovars, assured of staunch U.S. support and a promise of recognition from all but one EU country, reveled in hopes that a decades-old dream may be within reach despite fierce opposition by Serbia and Russia.
International mediators failed to negotiate a compromise on Kosovo’s future by Monday’s U.N. deadline.
“Independence means so much to us. It means a new identity and a new future for Kosovo,” said Agim Kastrati, a 19-year-old law student who marched through Pristina demanding a declaration of statehood early in 2008.
European Union foreign ministers meeting Monday in Brussels, Belgium, said they had “virtual unanimity” on recognizing Kosovo’s eventual independence, with Cyprus the sole holdout.
Yet the celebratory mood was tinged with uncertainty. Some wondered whether the seemingly imminent birth of a nation will re-ignite ancient ethnic hatreds and thrust the Balkans into a new cycle of bloodshed.
NATO, which maintains 16,000 peacekeepers in Kosovo, has boosted street patrols in a show of force aimed at discouraging extremists on both sides of the ethnic
“I don’t believe it’s possible for Serbs and Albanians to live together peacefully,” said Mimoza Sejdiu, 24, an ethnic Albanian at Monday’s rally. “I don’t see a common future as citizens of one country.”
In a sign of underlying tensions, Kosovo police said that over the weekend,
unknown assailants tossed a bottle of flaming liquid into a vacant house owned by Serbs in the town of Gnjilane southeast of Pristina and sprayed this menacing message: “Death to Serbs.”