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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 18:08 GMT
Recognising Kosovo: Balkan views
An ethnic Kosovo Albanian boy carries a Nato flag on a bridge decorated with Albanian flags near the town of Kacanik, Kosovo

Two of Serbia's neighbours Croatia and Hungary have officially recognised Kosovo's independence, with a similar move expected on Thursday by Bulgaria.

Here, readers in the three Balkan nations, as well as in Serbia and Kosovo, give their reaction to the move.

CROATIA

This is the best possible decision. I am very happy that my country finally recognised the Republic of Kosovo. Finally Kosovo Albanians have their chance to develop and prosper in their own country. We should not forget that the break-up of Yugoslavia started in Kosovo. This means that the terrible acts that were encouraged by Serbs started in Kosovo and spread to every non-Serbian community living in Yugoslavia. Good call Croatia, and good luck Kosovo.
Miroslav Toska, Split, Croatia

I am Croatian, and aside from all the conflicts between Serbs and Croats, I disagree with the state of Kosovo. It is clearly a state created by western powers for their own strategic purposes. I probably risk being shot by my fellow Croats for this statement, but I support Serbia and do not recognise Kosovo. Kosovo was never a republic like Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Macedonia. Those were always the republics, Kosovo was always Serbia.
Igor, Croatia

Croatia didn't recognise Kosovo to make Serbia even more bitter. We are about to become a Nato member state next month and we all know that the USA are the ones who control Nato, so we had to follow them on this issue. However, Serbia and Croatia have improved their relations over last couple of years, especially in economic terms, and it would be a pity for this to undermine those achievements. Serbia will have to face up to the fact that Kosovo is no longer theirs and get on with concentrating on issues such as the economy, relations with the EU, education, and infrastructure. All the best to the people of Kosovo and congratulations on reaching your dream.
Pero, Split, Croatia

I agree with my government's decision to recognise Kosovo and I think we should have done it already because other states recognised us when we declared our own independence. I think that we will still have good diplomatic relations with Serbia because they only hurt themselves by recalling their ambassadors. I wish Serbia all the best. I hope they turn to the future and forget the past because that's the only way they can progress. The same goes for Croatia.
Diana, Zagreb, Croatia

HUNGARY

Apart from maintaining the highbrow idea of democracy and complying with the recommended position of the EU, these three countries have their own particular reasons for recognising Kosovo's independence. Croatia may hope that the recognition accelerates it joining the EU. The Hungarian government came in for open criticism for delaying the announcement of accepting Kosovo's independence. According to the spokesperson of the ministry of foreign affairs, the adjournment was necessary for avoiding atrocities against the Hungarian minority on the national holiday (15 March) in Serbia where assaults against Hungarians have become more frequent recently. A joint announcement of three neighbours of Serbia also has a more impressive effect.
Daniel Bacsatyai, Pilisvorosvar, Hungary

The Hungarian decision to recognise Kosovo was absolutely unnecessary and pointless. Budapest knows well Kosovo is incapable of existing without the support of the international community and will be a failed state like Bosnia. I wonder how strong the American pressure on the Hungarian government was at the time of the visa negotiations in Washington DC.
Laszlo, Budapest, Hungary

We Hungarians are a weak nation. We can't take responsibility alone, only together with Croatia and Bulgaria. This step should have been taken a lot earlier. The Hungarian state is in a way also responsible now for the big Hungarian minority living in the northern region of Serbia. These people are now at risk of beatings again by right-wing Serbs. Serbia should realise finally that Yugoslavia or one Serb nation is just a fiction today and that there's no future in Europe for a radical Serbia. Romania, Spain, Russia not recognising Kosovo only shows that they don't and won't provide fundamental rights to their minorities.
B Cseh, Dunaujvaros, Hungary

BULGARIA

I certainly don't agree with the decision to recognise Kosovo as an independent state. It is part of Serbia's heritage, and the problems in the region are longstanding ones that have affected all sides, most of all the Serbs. Serbia will always see Kosovo as part of its country, just as England will always view Cornwall as part of its territory. It's a sad day to see our government set this illegal precedent.
Teville, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

I doubt this is the correct step for Bulgaria. My country should side with Romania and Greece in this case. Kosovo is not a country, but only a territory. There is no such thing as Kosovar, but rather Serb and Albanian. Kosovo declared its independence, contradicting international laws, but with the strong support of the US. I did not see one journalist ask Mr Bush why he supports Kosovo's independence. The EU seems to think that Albanians are more important then Serbs and this is a sufficient reason to declare unilateral independence. Macedonia is in heavy political crisis, caused by the Albanian party there because of Kosovo independence. The Balkans will remain an unstable region with this "new country".
Radoslava, Sofia, Bulgaria

Kosovo is a political and demographic reality. Even though the unilateral act of Kosovo's parliament has little legal value, the fact is there is a large population of ethnic Albanians there who were mistreated during the rule of Slobodan Milosevic. However, if Kosovo is to be independent, then the top quarter of the territory, including Mitrovica, should either be granted full autonomy in the newly created state, or remain in the territory of Serbia as it is populated mainly by Serbs who lost the protection of their homeland.
Nikolai Georgiev, Sofia, Bulgaria

KOSOVO

This is a very important decision. All these three countries have closer economic, political, social, cultural, even ethnical links with Serbia than Kosovo. It's in their interest to have better relations with Belgrade rather than Pristina. With that said they're recognising Kosovo. As a result, Belgrade should understand there is only one prosperous way forward for the region - the European way, as Sofia, Budapest and Zagreb have done. There may be a brighter chapter for all of us, if Serbian leaders follow their neighbours' example.
Safet, Pristina, Kosovo

I am glad that neighbouring countries are recognizing Kosovo's independence and showing that they are ready to accept that Kosovars are able to have their own state and leave the past behind. Macedonia and Montenegro should not hesitate to do the same.
Xhemail Grisholli, Pristina, Kosovo

For all the countries that haven't recognised Kosovo yet, they should bear in mind that Kosovo didn't start the break-up of Yugoslavia. It was the Serbs. First they started the war with Slovenia then with Croatia then with Bosnia and then with Kosovo. We all know how many people died because of the regime of Milosevic and his wars in this region. I am truly amazed how Serbian people still vote for the likes of Kostunica and radical parties. I think it is time for the whole region to move forward and work hard in order to get into the EU, where finally all the countries will be equal.
Petrit, Pristina, Kosovo

SERBIA

I am a Serb, and I don't blame the Croats. They have lots of debts to pay off which they incurred during their struggle for their own independence. For example to Germany, which rushed to recognise Croatia before anyone else, or to the United States. So Croatia now has no choice but to take orders from the US on decisions such as this.
Nik, Novi Sad, Serbia

Croats, Hungarians and Bulgarians were always against Serbs, fighting them in both World Wars. Today just shows that they will never be our friends. I hope that they will at least receive a few dollars or euros, so these decisions are not in vain.
Kozak, Srbobran, Serbia

I watch with the regret what the EU is doing to my country. The EU has shown its weakness by allowing the US to pressure all smaller EU states to change their decisions and recognise Kosovo as a state. How can you blame Serbs for using the same methods of resistance like the Albanians did previously? You have created a much bigger problem and pushed away eight million Serbs from the EU. Thank you for destroying the weak Serbian democracy.
Nemanja Petrovic, Belgrade, Serbia



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