On Feb. 17, Kosovo's provisional government broke away from Serbia and renamed itself the Republic of Kosovo. A number of nations formerly recognized the republic Tuesday, including the United States, France, Germany, Ireland and Great Britain. But several other nations opposed the move, including Russia, Spain and China, while Serbia said it would attempt to block Kosovo from becoming a member of the United Nations.Kosovo's population is predominantly made up of ethnic Albanians, a majority of whom are secular Muslims. Albanians living in Queens said they thought Kosovo's break from Serbia was a positive move."I think this is a good thing for Kosovo," said Ardian Skenderi, who moved to the United States from Albania and now owns Astoria's Taverna Kyclades. "Those people have suffered so much for years."Nedzad Selmanovic, vice president of Ridgewood's Albanian American Islamic Center for Queens, said he hoped Kosovo's declaration of independence would bring peace to the region."We view Kosovo's independence as a rebirth of a nation," said Selmanovic, an ethnic Albanian who was born in Montenegro. "It has become a reality after 100 years of hardship, wars and the shedding of blood and tears of innocent people. We pray for peace and freedom." The Kosovo War of the 1990s is believed to have claimed the lives of 10,000 to 12,000 ethnic Albanians and 3,000 Serbs. During that conflict, an estimated million ethnic Albanian separatists were driven from Kosovo, causing NATO to intervene and end the war.The New York Times reported that Serb mobs who opposed Kosovo's declaration of independence attacked the nation's border Tuesday and set fire to several posts.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2008 Community News Group
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