February 17, 2008 / 5:45 PM / 11 years ago

Vatican calls for moderation in Kosovo, Serbia

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican called for “prudence and moderation” in Kosovo and Serbia after the breakaway province declared independence on Sunday.

The Holy See urged politicians in the region to show “a decisive and concrete commitment to ward off extremist reactions and violence”, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

The respect of all ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in Kosovo must be ensured, he said, and he called for its Christian artistic and cultural heritage to be safeguarded. Albanians make up 90 percent of Kosovo’s population.

“The Holy Father continues to look with affection at the people of Kosovo and Serbia, is close to them and is praying at this crucial moment of their history,” the statement said.

Earlier on Sunday Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, which vowed to resist it.

Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Robert Woodward

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