From Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty
SLLOVI, Kosovo (RFE/RL) — With his newborn state on the eve of its first anniversary, Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci made a symbolic trip to the tiny village of Sllovi, not far from the capital, Pristina.
There, he visited a baby girl, Pavaresia, whose name means “independence” in Albanian. She, like her country, was born on February 17, 2008.
Thaci urged his fellow citizens to join in celebrating Kosovo’s first year as an independent state.
“I call upon all the citizens of Kosovo, regardless of their ethnicity, to celebrate with dignity and pride. It is a year of historical success for Kosovo,” Thaci said.
“Kosovo has a safe future; therefore we should celebrate with dignity and be proud. We will have a state protocol of the highest level, but we will also have a big celebration for all our citizens.”
After years as a Serbian province and international protectorate, Albanian-majority Kosovo unilaterally declared independence a year ago amid support from the Western community.
The move outraged officials in Belgrade, and threatened to send waves unrest through the fledgling country, particularly in North Mitrovica and other Serbian-majority enclaves.
A year later, however, Kosovo is still standing.
The country has a new constitution, a national anthem, an army, and a flag. A European law-and-order mission has successfully assumed control from the United Nations. There have been no major outbreaks of violence.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Stewart Jones says it has been a year of “tremendous hard work and achievement.”
“Both the government and the people of Kosovo have much to be proud of. The new constitution, dozens of new laws, hundreds of kilometers of new roads, dozens of new schools,” Jones says. “Everywhere you look in Pristina — and I just visited a couple of weeks ago — you can see manifestations of progress.”
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