Anniversary of declaration of Kosovo's independence
Monday marks the sixth anniversary since Kosovo's Albanians unilaterally declared independence, on February 17, 2008.Source: Beta, Tanjug
The authorities in Priština began their four-day celebration on Friday, and announced that leaders of the United States, Germany, Britain, Austria, Italy, Croatia, and Holland, were among those who congratulated them on the anniversary.
According to the data of Kosovo's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the procalamation has been recognized by 106 countries - the Kingdom of Lesotho being the latest.
These include all former Yugoslav republics except Bosnia-Herzegovina, and 23 out of EU's 28 member-states.
A day after the proclamation was made, the first two countries to recognize Kosovo were Afghanistan and the United States. France, Albania, Turkey, Britain, Australia, and Senegal followed.
Serbia rejected the unilateral proclamation as illegal under its Constitution.
Reacting to the anniversary on Monday, the Serbian Government Office for Kosovo said that Serbia "will never recognize the independence of its province."
Authorities in Belgrade, those in power currently and those who will come in the future, will always consider Kosovo and Metohija a part of the Republic of Serbia, said the statement, and added:
"Six years ago, on February 17, 2008, for the first time on the soil of the modern, 21st century Europe, the so-called independent state of Kosovo was proclaimed by force, without the consent of the United Nations Security Council. Built on the deprivation of Serbs of their rights, on ethnically motivated murders whose perpetrators to this day remain nameless, on desecration of holy Serb Orthodox places, andon historical revisionism... that creation is not, and never will be a state."
The statement notes a number incidents that took place in Kosovo since the end of the 1999 war, including the killings of farmers in Staro Gacko, of children in Goraždevac, the terrorist attack on a Niš Express bus in Livadice, and the March 17, 2004, violence against Serbs. The office stressed that "there have been no guilty persons for those crimes, no evidence, not even any suspects."
Serb-owned property is still being taken away or destroyed, the office said, while privatizations "overnight turn the property of the state of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija into the property of the self-proclaimed state."
"The state of Serbia and the government of the Republic of Serbia have in the past few months done everything they could to create conditions for peaceful and safe life of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija. However, until equal criteria have been established for all residents of Kosmet (Kosovo and Metohija), until all criminals, regardless of nation and religion, are found and brought to justice, mutual trust and reconciliation cannot be built," the statement concluded.