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Kosovo 'Supervised' Independence Ends

  • RFE/RL

The NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping mission (pictured) will continue, along with the European Union's EULEX policing mission.

The NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping mission (pictured) will continue, along with the European Union's EULEX policing mission.

U.S. President Barack Obama has hailed the end of international supervision for Kosovo's independence as a "historic milestone."

In a written statement issued on September 10, Obama said: "Kosovo has made significant progress in solidifying the gains of independence and in building the institutions of a modern, multiethnic, inclusive and democratic state".

Kosovo took another step towards full sovereignty on September 10 as Western powers in the International Steering Group (ISG) formally announced the end of their supervision.

The ISG, made up of 23 European Union members, the United States, and Turkey, had overseen Kosovo since its 2008 unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a former guerrilla commander in the country's 1998-99 war, hailed the step as an "act of trus.t"

Thaci's government has yet to extend its writ to a strip of northern territory populated by minority Serbs and propped up by Serbia.

Thaci told media that his government has a plan to include the northern Serbs in Kosovo's institutions but he maintained that the help of the international community was needed.

"The main precondition is that the international community pressures Belgrade to remove the illegal structures of police and the Serbian intelligence agency," he said. [These] are directly led by the former spokesman of Slobodan Milosevic who is now the new prime minister of Serbia, Ivica Dacic, and who, at present, is also the minister of interior."

International oversight will still continue in the shape of 6,000 NATO peacekeepers and over 1,000 European Union police officers, prosecutors, and judges tasked with tackling deep-rooted corruption and sporadic ethnic violence in Kosovo.

Kosovo's two million majority ethnic-Albanian population has been under some form of international administration since a NATO bombing campaign forced then Serbian strongman leader Slobodan Milosevic's troops out of the Serbian province in 1999.

Serbia has never accepted Kosovo's independence.

It dismissed the sovereignty announcement as meaningless.

With reporting by AFP and dpa