Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, which means nothing unless recognized, has split the international community. The United States, Australia, and some of Europe's major powers — Britain, France, Germany, and Italy — have offered their support to the country, despite warnings from other influential countries and EU members.
Russia, China, and at least five EU states oppose the unilateral assertion of independence. Ethnic Serbs, who consider Kosovo the birthplace of their civilization, are rallying throughout the region, and urging Russia to help Serbia. There have also been attacks on NATO and UN properties, prompting armed UN forces to step in and guard the border. The situation will undoubtedly tighten already tense US-Russian relations.
Many of the countries opposing Kosovo's independence worry that a dangerous precedent could threaten stability in their own countries. Countries like Spain, which deals with Basque and Catalan separatist, oppose unilateral declarations of independence by their internal minorities and therefore by Kosovo. Turkey, whose Kurdish minority consistently seeks independence, went against this trend by recognizing Kosovo on Monday. Some credit Kosovo's Muslim population, as well as Turkey's participation in NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR), as motivation for recognition by Turkey.
For more details, click through these photos and read the captions! Do you think a negotiated independence settlement would have been better? Or, is it naive to think Serbia would ever cede Kosovo to the ethnic Albanians? And . . . do you think Palestine will follow Kosovo's lead and unilaterally declare independence?
- A Kosovan kisses the Albanian and US flags, as people gathered to celebrate in downtown Pristina on February 19, 2008.
- Javier Solana (left), the European Union's high representative for foreign and security policy, meets Kosovo's president.
- Angry Serbs destroyed two checkpoints on the Kosovo-Serbia border in arson attacks on Tuesday.
- NATO forces intervened on Tuesday for the first time since Kosovo declared independence on Sunday.
- Serbian students wave flags during a peaceful protest in downtown Belgrade on February 18, 2008.
- The United Nations Security Council met in New York, the day after Kosovo declared independence to discuss the situation.
- Kosovo Albanians celebrate on the day their prime minister proclaimed Kosovo independent.
- Kosovo's independence day.
- Kosovo Albanians celebrate.
- Kosovars climb letters reading "New Born" in Pristina on February 17, 2008.