Source Pravda.Ru

Kosovo: Rugova calls for independence - 19 November, 2001 - News

Albanian leader calls for UN to recognise independent nation after election victory.

Ibrahim Rugova, leader of the moderate Democratic League of Kosovo, is set to be confirmed the winner of the province’s first elections since it was proclaimed a United Nations protectorate in the aftermath of the NATO campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999.

The Kosovo Action for Civic Initiatives, a non-government organisation monitoring the elections, claims that Rugova is the winner of the elections with 44.7% of the vote. The Democratic Party of Kosovo, led by ex-UCK leader Hashim Thaci, was second with 23.7%; the coalition of Serb parties was third (10.1%) and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, fourth, with 8.3%.

Rugova hailed his victory as the beginning of an independent Kosovo. “We take this opportunity once again to call for the recognition of the independence of Kosovo as soon as possible”, he declared.

A 120-seat national assembly will be formed after the election results are officially confirmed on Monday, November 19th. The Serbs will be allocated at least 10 seats. This assembly will function alongside, not above, the United Nations organism, governed by Hans Haekkerup, who has full powers over the national assembly, having the right to dissolve it. The United Nations organisation considers Kosovo as a province within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia but with a large degree of autonomy.

The Albanians’ claim for full independence sets the stage for another thorny Balkans issue, especially because there are unresolved “Albanian questions” in northern Greece and Montenegro, coupled with the fact that there is reported tension rising in Macedonia due to aggressive acts by the Albanian minority. The UNO does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state because this issue is politically charged for the Serbs: it is the birthplace of the Serbian nation.

Haekkerup stated that the current elections are “a step forward creating some of the preconditions for finding a settlement on the final status of Kosovo, but it will take some time yet”.