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Kosovo independence process cannot be held back: EU
December 20, 2007 / 12:30 PM / 10 years ago

Kosovo independence process cannot be held back: EU

<p>Slovenia's Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel presents the EU Slovenian Presidency programme to the media at the European Council building in Brussels December 20, 2007. REUTERS/Thierry Roge</p>

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union must be ready to guide Kosovo on an unstoppable path to independence after the U.N. Security Council failed to agree on the Serb province’s future, the incoming EU presidency said on Thursday.

“The EU and Kosovo have to agree what to do next in a reasonable manner and without any blackmail. It’s clear that certain processes cannot be held back,” Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, whose country takes over the rotating EU presidency from January 1, told a news conference.

As expected, the U.N. Security Council failed on Wednesday to bridge deep divisions over the future of Kosovo, whose Western-backed independence drive is firmly opposed by Serbia and its ally Russia.

A large majority of EU states are expected to recognize an independence declaration by leaders of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority expected early next year. The EU is also preparing to take over police duties there from the United Nations.

“We are ready. If I interpret the mood right in the EU, we are prepared to recognize the reality that exists in the Western Balkans,” Rupel said, adding he expected the province’s status to be resolved by end-June at the latest.

Several countries, notably Cyprus and Greece, are reluctant to recognize any one-sided declaration of independence from Kosovo, either because of concerns over the legality of the move or the encouragement it may give to other separatist groups.

Reporting by Paul Taylor; writing by Mark John; Editing by Charles Dick

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