Kosovo expects quick recognition by “100 countries”

PRISTINA, Serbia – Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said on Friday about 100 countries were ready to recognize the province’s independence from Serbia as soon as it was declared.

“We have confirmation by around 100 countries that they are ready to recognize Kosovo’s independence immediately after we declare it. We will have a powerful and massive recognition,” he told a news conference.

Thaci was speaking after his regular weekly meeting with Joachim Ruecker, head of the Kosovo mission of the United Nations which has administered the territory since NATO expelled Serbian forces in 1999.

Thaci did not name any countries or specify when he plans to declare independence.

In Belgrade, Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo Slobodan Samardzic said in a statement a declaration could come as early as next weekend.

“The government is getting more and more relevant information that Thaci will illegally declare unilateral independence on Sunday, February 17,” Samardzic said. The date is the most frequently mentioned in Kosovo, but not confirmed.

The United States and most of the 27-member European Union back self-determination for Kosovo and its 90-percent ethnic Albanian majority. But Russia, allied with Serbia against Kosovo’s secession, has blocked an independence resolution in the U.N. Security Council.

The date for the declaration is the subject of great speculation in Kosovo, with mid-to-late February or early March heavily backed. Thaci has made clear the timing will be carefully coordinated with Western powers.

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