Kosovo celebrates anniversary

Albanians in Kosovo are marking the first anniversary of the province's unilateral declaration of independence.

Source: B92, Beta, Tanjug

After unsuccessful negotiations between Belgrade and Priština which lasted nearly three years, on this day in 2008, Kosovo declared independence.

At a special ceremonial session of Kosovo’s assembly on Feb. 17, 2008, the Declaration of Kosovo Independence was adopted and proclaimed by Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci. The plan for a unilateral declaration of independence had been announced just the day before.

Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu said today that Kosovo’s unilateral independence declaration a year ago brought to life the dreams of many Kosovo generations. Speaking at a ceremonial session of the Kosovo assembly, Sejdiu said the independence declaration was the most important decision in the province's history and that it had given Kosovo the status of a subject in international relations.

“We’re proud of what our predecessors accomplished, but we are very lucky that it fell to us to live and work in a Kosovo that is an independent and sovereign state,” said Sejdiu.

“A year ago the biggest project sought by many generations was undertaken, a project which today symbolizes the names of two great heroes: Ibrahim Rugova, who was the spiritual and political leader of independence, and Adem Jashari, a hero of the struggle for liberation,” he said.

According to the president, only a year after its independence declaration, Kosovo was continuing to take careful steps forward, adopting a constitution, symbols, a flag and a national anthem, and was now in the process of forming the Kosovo Security Forces, justice agencies and the Kosovo Constitutional Court.

Kosovo Assembly Speaker Jakup Krasniqi said that the unilateral independence declaration was the accomplishment of aspirations dating back over a century.

“The date of Feb. 17 marks the moment of the creation of the Kosovo people’s great desire for freedom. This nation, which has never yielded during its painful history, today bows to fallen freedom fighters,” said Krasniqi.

Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said that Feb. 17 was the birthday of all Kosovo citizens, as that day a “state” was born, which had been a century-long goal .

In central Priština large crowds gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of independence.

According to KiM radio, the streets of Priština were flooded with Kosovo flags, and music and sirens could be heard blasting out of passing cars and vehicles.

Students and citizens in many Kosovo towns will later organize a walk under the title “Walk to Independence.”

A concert by the Kosovo philharmonic will follow, and fireworks in all large Kosovo towns are planned for 22:00 CET. Sejdiu pardoned or shortened the sentences of 62 people convicted of various crimes to mark the anniversary of Kosovo’s unilateral independence declaration.


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