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Pressure Mounts on Kosovo Independence

Milorad Radivojevic places flowers near the vandalized gravestone of a relative buried in the town of Svinjare. He has been unable to return to his village since an ethnic Albanian mob burned and looted Serb property there in 2004.
Emily Harris, NPR
Milorad Radivojevic places flowers near the vandalized gravestone of a relative buried in the town of Svinjare. He has been unable to return to his village since an ethnic Albanian mob burned and looted Serb property there in 2004.
Sala Hajdari escaped to a nearby Catholic village when Serb armed forces attacked her ethnic Albanian village in March 1999. She said she hopes her 13-month-old granddaughter, Devlina, never experiences anything similar.
Emily Harris, NPR /
Sala Hajdari escaped to a nearby Catholic village when Serb armed forces attacked her ethnic Albanian village in March 1999. She said she hopes her 13-month-old granddaughter, Devlina, never experiences anything similar.

This is the first piece in a two-part series.

The final chapter soon may be written in the bloody Balkan wars that ripped apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s and re-wrote the map of southern Europe.

The United Nations Security Council is discussing a proposal to set the province of Kosovo clearly on the path to independence from Serbia.

The United States strongly backs an independent Kosovo, insisting that is the only way to bring stability to the region. But Russia, also a key player in the process, adamantly insists Kosovo stay a part of Serbia.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Agim Ceku is not ruling out simply declaring independence, but only if the European Union and the United States agree to recognize and support the new country.

Western officials say they don't want the U.N. process to stall to the point Kosovo would declare independence.

Meanwhile, Kosovo Albanians have already started working on a constitution. No ethnic Serbs are involved in the process, but members of the ethnic Albanian political parties that are a part of the process say it's very informal.

American and European politicians say anything short of independence could lead to violence, as the frustrated Albanians in Kosovo are determined to be free from Belgrade.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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International Correspondent Emily Harris is based in Jerusalem as part of NPR's Mideast team. Her post covers news related to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She began this role in March of 2013.