Kosovo parliament adopts constitution

April 9th, 2008 - 7:16 pm ICT by admin  

Pristina, April 9 (DPA) Kosovo’s parliament unanimously passed a new constitution Wednesday, less than two months after Pristina declared independence from Serbia with Western support. The 107 legislators taking part in the session unanimously backed the document, which would come into effect June 15. Leaders of the vastly dominant Albanian majority hailed the “historic act”.

“Today is the most important day since the Feb 17 declaration of independence,” President Fatmir Sejdiu said and added, “the constitution takes Kosovo to a new level of democracy”.

Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said that after the independence claim and recognition by “world’s most powerful countries … the new reality of Kosovo will have more support” with a constitution.

The US and leading European Union countries recognised Kosovo soon after it declared independence. Washington Tuesday opened an embassy in Pristina, signalling continued strong support.

Serbia, backed by Russia, continues to insist on sovereignty over the breakaway province, accusing the West of violating international rules with its support of Kosovo.

Belgrade has also instructed the minority Kosovo Serbs, grouped in enclaves, to refuse cooperation with authorities in Pristina and also with the EU mission sent to help the province’s first sovereign steps.

The Albanian leaders again sought to allay Serb fears that they would be driven out of their homes from the new state.

Kosovo has been under UN administration since NATO ended a conflict there in mid-1999 by ousting Belgrade’s security forces.

Foreign missions however failed in the past nine years to end hatred and mistrust among Kosovo’s ethnic groups and the potential for violence remains high - particularly as the rhetoric in Serbia heats up in the run-up to May 11 parliamentary elections.

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