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Kosovo PM Calls For End To Exodus On Independence Anniversary

Kosovo marked the seventh anniversary of independence from Serbia on February 17 with Prime Minister Isa Mustafa urging citizens not to leave the mainly ethnic Albanian territory as it grapples with a deep economic crisis.

"People have no reason to leave Kosovo, they have a reason to stay," Mustafa told lawmakers at a special parliamentary session, calling for action against unemployment, poverty, corruption and organised crime.

An economic crisis has over the past few months sparked a mass exodus of tens of thousands of impoverished ethnic Albanians in search of a better life in EU countries.

In Focus: Kosovo's Youths Stream Abroad

More than 20,000 people have left Kosovo so far this year.

More than 100 countries, including the United States and most of the EU's 28 member states, have recognized Kosovo's independence.

Serbia still refuses to recognize the move.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Kosovo on the occasion. In a February 17 statement, Kerry praised last year's parliamentary elections, the first held on all of Kosovo’s territory, as "an important moment in building a thriving, multiethnic democracy."

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa