Kosovo: Independence 'in few weeks', new prime minister says

Pristina, 10 Jan. (AKI) – Serbia’s breakaway Kosovo province, which has been under United Nations control since 1999, will unilaterally declare independence in a few weeks, according to its new prime minister, Hasim Taci.

 “I assure you that we will declare independence in a few weeks,” Taci said after taking office of prime minister. “It’s already an accomplished fact, we just have to declare it,” added Taci, who was sworn in by the parliament late on Wednesday.

“We are working hand in hand with our friends, the US, EU and NATO,” Taci said. “We are preparing to make Kosovo an independent and sovereign state at the beginning of this year,” Taci said.

“We will make our dream a reality very soon and Kosovo, as an independent state, will soon become a part of free world states,” he stated.

“Today, we will start implementing what we had promised in the campaign,” said Taci, a former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), which started a rebellion against Serbian rule in 1998.

Taci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (DPK) won 17 November elections and has formed a governing coalition with president Fatmir Seidiu’s Democratic Alliance of Kosovo (DSK).   

Taci pledged his government would strive for economic reforms, better pays and pensions, and a reform of the health and educational systems. Kosovo's economy is in shambles and experts have said it will not be able to function without foreign economic assistance for some time to come.

But the head of the UN administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), Joachim Ruecker, told the parliament that the “next steps must be taken in a close cooperation with the international community and require a high degree of responsibility”.

The ethnic Albanian majority province has been under UN control since 1999.

Serbia opposes Kosovo's independence and its key ally Russia has blocked secessionist moves in the UN Security Council.

But the United States and most European Union countries have said they would recognise Kosovo's independence even without the approval of the Security Council immediately after the presidential elections in Serbia set for 20 January and the run-off on 3 February.

Serbian leaders have said they would declare independence “null and void” and threatened possible economic sanctions against the province if it declared independence.

Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica has said Belgrade would break off moves to join the EU if the bloc recognised Kosovo independence, bypassing the UN.  

Kosovo gets most of its electricity from Serbia, which may cut off supplies if the province declares independence. But Taci said he would eliminate frequent shortages and guarantee Kosovans electricity on 24-hour basis.


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