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Statement by Barack Obama on the Independence of Kosovo

February 17, 2008

Chicago, IL - Senator Barack Obama today released the following statement on the independence of Kosovo and its implications for Serbia.

"Today's announcement of independence by the leadership of Kosovo ends a chain of events that began with the bloody break-up of the former Yugoslavia. Kosovo's independence is a unique situation resulting from the irreparable rupture Slobodan Milosevic's actions caused; it is in no way a precedent for anyone else in the region or around the world.

"Kosovo's independence carries with it important responsibilities. The international community has devoted enormous resources to Kosovo's political, economic and social development for nearly a decade, with results not always meeting expectations. I hope that Kosovo's government and people act with urgency to ensure that Kosovo becomes a positive example of democratic governance and the rule of law. All the people of Kosovo, be they of Albanian, Serb or other origin, must be able to live in a free, tolerant and prosperous society where minority rights and religious sites are fully protected, and the people of Kosovo have a stake in one another's success.

"Serbia and its people have also suffered terribly over the past two decades. Serbs deserve a more peaceful, prosperous, and hopeful future. This month's re-election of President Boris Tadic was a critical step in moving Serbia closer to the goal of full integration into the democratic West, including membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions that can help bring more stability and prosperity to the people of Serbia. Serbia ultimately belongs in the European Union. The EU and Serbia should rapidly deepen their ties, a move that would help demonstrate to the Serb people that they are indeed genuinely part of the West.

"I honor the service of all Americans, military and civilian, who have worked so hard to bring peace to the Balkans. The United States must continue to work with our European allies on behalf of the security and prosperity of the entire region. I am convinced that, with our support, Serbia and Kosovo can emerge as models of democratic and economic growth, and their people can know a bright future."

Barack Obama, Statement by Barack Obama on the Independence of Kosovo Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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