Thursday, February 21, 2008

Serbia strikes back

Tonight's mob attack on the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade is a further indication that international acceptance of Kosovo's independence is not a foregone conclusion but could be a very long and painful process. The sacking and burning of the embassy came after a fiery rally by as many as 150,0000 in Serbia's capital, apparently encouraged by the government, according to the Reuters and Associated Press news services. One person, presumably a rioter, was reported killed. The riot in Belgrade came on the fourth day since Kosovo's parliament declared its independence and followed attacks by mobs on NATO checkpoints on Kosovo's border. The NATO forces have been stationed in Kosovo since attacks on ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of the population, in 1999. The United States and several members of the European Union immediately recognized the new country, promptly an angry reaction from Serbia, which accused the Western nations of undermining its territorial integrity. Serbia considers Kosovo the heart of its historic civilization. Russia and Spain, which are battling long-term insurgencies, also opposed recognition. Kosovo was a self-governing part Serbia, which is what remains of the former Yugoslavia. Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia broke away from Yugoslavia in a bloody war in the 1990s.

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