By Fatmir Aliu and Bojana Barlovac
Kosovo will become fully independent in September, the International Steering Group, ISG, which oversees the newborn country, announced on Monday.
The group of 25 states, which have been overseeing Kosovo since it declared independence from Serbia in 2008, said that the country had successfully implemented the provisions of the UN Comprehensive Settlement Proposal, more commonly known as the Ahtisaari Plan, which were a precondition to its full independence.
The 15th meeting of the Steering Group, ISG, also decided to terminate the mandate of the International Civilian Representative, ICR, which will come to an end at the final meeting of the ISG in Pristina.
The Steering Group underlined the need for the principles and spirit that have governed Kosovo so far to continue into the period that follows “the ending of supervised independence.”
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008. Since then 89 states, including 22 EU Member states and the US, have recognized the country.
“We commit ourselves to continue supporting Kosovo’s quest for further international recognition and its aspirations toward membership of relevant international organizations,” the group said.
During the meeting in Vienna, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has pledged to continue the cause of creating a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Kosovo, for all its citizens.
“We are determined to make Kosovo a success story, and an example of peace, stability and prosperity,” Thaci told the ambassadors at the ISG meeting in Vienna.
“Our institutions stand ready to move out from under the supervised umbrella, and incorporate the principles of the Ahtsaari Planin to our modern constitution and laws, so that they may continue to serve our entirely independent nation,” he added.
Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the Austria’s most influential opposition party, the far right Freedom Party, has dubbed the decision a clear provocation that would jeopardize the safety of local Serbs.
“It is frightening that autonomy has not been requested for the Serbs in the north, those whom the Muslim Albanians have not expelled from Kosovo,” Strache said in a statement.
Pieter Feith, International Civilian Representative, said after the meeting that there are sufficient guarantees that Pristina will take full responsibility when it comes to respecting the rights of all people, especially the Serbian community.
Oliver Ivanovic, the outgoing State Secretary in the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo said that the office of International Civilian Representative had even failed to implement the Ahtisaari plan properly, and that they would leave Kosovo full of social tensions.