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More countries, int'l blocs react to Kosovo's declaration of independence
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09:00, February 19, 2008

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Countries and international organizations continued to react with mixed stances on Kosovo's declaration of independence.

Following Serbia's ambassador recall from the United States in protest against America's recognition of Kosovo as "a sovereign and independent state," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Serbian President Boris Tadic Monday to stress the two countries' "strong relationship."

She also called called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a bid to iron out tensions between the two countries after Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence.

Portugal's Foreign Minister Luis Amado said Monday that his nation was on the way to recognizing Kosovo as an independent state, but must first consult domestically and with other European Union (EU) nations.

"We will take a decision at the time we consider most appropriate in close dialogue with our European partners," Amado told Portuguese media from Belgian capital Brussels, where he was meeting with EU Foreign Ministers on the issue.

According to a statement issued after a heated meeting among EU foreign ministers, member states would individually decide, in accordance with national practice and international law, on their relations with Kosovo.

Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin said Monday he would recommend the government establish relations with the authorities in Kosovo.

"Guided by the priority to maintain stability in the region as well as the solidarity with our EU partners, I will recommend to the Bulgarian government to adopt a decision, in accordance with national legislation, for establishing relations with the Kosovo authorities," Kalfin was quoted by local press as saying.

"This decision will be closely related to the further adoption by the Kosovo institutions of effective constitutional guarantees and other relevant legislation to ensure the fulfillment of the above mentioned principles as well as to the developments in Kosovo in the coming weeks," Kalfin said.

Australian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik announced Tuesday that the country intended to recognize Kosovo's independence.

"I'll suggest to the cabinet on Wednesday that we proceed with the recognition of Kosovo," said Plassink while attending the EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said Tuesday that Sweden was ready to recognize Kosovo. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said earlier that a vast majority of EU nations are likely to recognize Kosovo in "one form or another" over the next month and Sweden will be well within that time frame.

In a statement issued Monday, Panama's Foreign Ministry said the country would act with caution over the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo.

"The Panama government will act with a great deal of prudence faced with the unilateral declaration of independence issued by Kosovo, which hopes to separate itself from the former Yugoslavia," the statement said.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu meanwhile voiced support for Kosovo's independence.

"Kosovo declared independence after many years of making efforts for its people. We join in this happy result. The Islamic world will extend all support to the newly founded Kosovo," the Islamic organization said in a press release.

However, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos Monday reiterated his country's decision not to recognize Kosovo as an independent state, saying the move infringed on international law.

"The Spanish government has always defended international law. It did so when deciding to withdraw troops from Iraq and it does so now when it comes to secession," Moratinos told Spanish media from Belgian capital Brussels.

The Romanian parliament announced Monday that it would not recognize Kosovo independence, highlighting fears that such a move could fuel separatist moves in the Balkans.

"Conditions to recognize the new entity are not fulfilled," the parliament said in a declaration which received overwhelming backing from deputies.

"The parliament stresses that the decision in Pristina and the potential recognition by other states of the unilaterally declared independence cannot be interpreted as a precedent for other areas."

Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili said in an interview with the Tbilisi-based Rustavi-2 TV channel Monday that the Caucasus nation has no plan to recognize the independence of Kosovo.

Georgia's breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, have asked for recognition on their self-proclaimed independence after Kosovo.

Georgian Parliament Speaker Nino Burdzhanadze said earlier that Kosovo cannot be turned into a precedent for the two regions. "Kosovo is a special topic, and this issue may not be considered to be a precedent for resolving other conflicts," local media quoted her as saying.

Kosovo was a southern autonomous province within Serbia before the breakup of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Albanian-dominated region, which was plunged into ethnic conflict in the 1990s, has been under UN administration since mid-1999, after NATO air strikes drove Serbian forces out of the province.

Kosovo's proclamation of independence has drawn a fierce backlash from Serbia, which insists Kosovo is an inseparable part of the country.

The Serbian Interior Ministry filed criminal charges against Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, President Sejdiu and Parliament Speaker Jakup Krasniqi, accusing them of forming a false state on Serbia's territory.

Serbian President Boris Tadic called on all member states of the United Nations not to recognize Kosovo, and the Serbian Supreme Court dismissed Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence as a null, void and illegal act.

Source: Xinhua

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