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Kosovo Police Teargas Albanian Protesters

Ethnic Albanians running through tear gas today (epa) February 10, 2007 -- Police in Kosovo fired tear gas and used rubber bullets against ethnic Albanian protesters in central Pristina today.

Kosovar Albanians, angry about a United Nations' plan that they say grants them less than full independence, tried to break through police barricades.

Police arrested several people at the scene of the protest, near Kosovo's parliament building in central Pristina.

Several armored vehicles belonging to UN police also arrived on the scene.

The group Vetevendosje (Self-Determination), which wants immediate independence from Serbia, organized the demonstration.

UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari has offered a plan giving Kosovo limited self-rule.

Some Kosovar Albanians dislike the plan's provisions for a powerful European overseer and self-government for the Serbian minority.

Serbia has also expressed opposition to the plan.

(AFP, Reuters, dpa)

Spotlight On Kosovo

Spotlight On Kosovo

THE WORLD'S NEWEST NATION? The region of Kosovo has a population of more than 2 million, some 90 percent of whom are ethnic Albanians. It was one of the poorest regions in the former Yugoslavia, but has considerable mineral wealth and an enterprising population, many of whom work abroad but keep close contact with Kosovo. All ethnic Albanian political parties seek independence on the principles of self-determination and majority rule. They feel that Serbia lost its historically based claim to what was its autonomous province under the 1974 constitution by revoking that autonomy in the late 1980s and then conducting a crackdown in 1999 that forced some 850,000 people to flee their homes.

Since NATO's intervention that year to stop the expulsions, Kosovo has been under a UN administration (UNMIK). The UN has begun to gradually transfer functions to elected Kosovar institutions. The primary Serbian concerns are physical safety for the local Serbian minority, a secure return for the tens of thousands of Serbian displaced persons, and protection for historic Serbian religious buildings. The main problems affecting all Kosovars, however, are economic. Until Kosovo's final status is clarified and new legislation passed and enforced, it will not be able to attract the investment it needs to provide jobs for its population, which is one of the youngest and fastest growing in Europe. Prosperity is widely seen as the key to political stability and interethnic coexistence in Kosovo, as is the case in much of Southeastern Europe.

For an archive of RFE/RL's coverage of developments in the disputed region of KOSOVO, click here.