Kosovo celebrates 10 years of independence, Serbs boycott
PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The Kosovo Assembly, or Parliament, convened in a special session Sunday to celebrate the country’s 10 years of independence — a ceremony boycotted by the country’s ethnic Serb lawmakers.
Speaker Kadri Veseli pledged that “the second decade of independence would be focused on the economic well-being of Kosovo’s citizens.”
The second day of celebrations continued with a parade of military and police forces and a state reception.
In Feb. 17, 2008, Kosovo’s Parliament unilaterally declared independence from Serbia nine years after NATO conducted a 78-day airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanians.
Kosovo, one of poorest countries in Europe, has taken a first step to European Union membership by signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement. But the country faces serious challenges besides its relations with Serbia, including establishing the rule of law and fighting high unemployment, corruption and organized crime.
Kosovo is recognized by 117 countries, including the U.S. and most Western powers but Serbia still sees Kosovo as part of its own territory and has the support of Russia and China.
A day earlier in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Kosovo’s independence remains fragile and won’t be concluded without an agreement with Serbia.
Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania contributed.