EU ministers meeting in the Belgian capital Brussels on November 19 warned Kosovo against any unilateral declaration of independence following weekend elections that revived local hopes of seceding from Belgrade. “Kosovo should have her independence (but) it shouldn’t be an unmanaged unilateral declaration,” Britain’s European Affairs Minister Jim Murphy reportedly said. The European Union wants Hashim Thaci, the former Kosovo fighter commander who seems to be set to lead the government that emerges from the polls, to avoid any rash moves that could provoke Serbia and its ally Russia. Noting a December 10 deadline for ending negotiations on the future of the ethnic Albanian-majority province, the EU foreign ministers called on Thaci to let the talks run their course, and do nothing to jeopardise international support.
Upon claiming victory on November 18, Thaci declared that voters had sent the world a message that the breakaway Serbian province was now ready for independence. The PDK leader appears certain to be named the prime minister of a grand coalition in spite of falling short of an outright majority in the November 17 elections. The opposition PDK was backed by 34 per cent of Kosovo’s electorate ahead of the ruling Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) with 22 per cent, according to a tally based on the official count of 90 per cent of ballots.