Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Friday, 10 October 2008 12:44 UK

Kosovo receives recognition boost

An ethnic Albanian celebrates Kosovo's independence in Mitrovica (February 2008)
Ethnic Albanians celebrated Kosovo independence in February

The governments of Montenegro and Macedonia have formally recognised Kosovo as independent following its secession from Serbia in February.

It means that, apart from Serbia, only Bosnia-Hercegovina among ex-Yugoslav republics has yet to recognise Kosovo.

Serbia reacted angrily, expelling the Montenegrin and Macedonian ambassadors and saying their countries had jeopardised regional stability.

About 50 countries have recognised Kosovo's independence so far.

But more than 140 have not.

Macedonia's Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki said his government approved the move after parliament adopted a resolution by an overwhelming majority to make the recommendation.

Montenegro and Serbia made up a single state until a referendum in 2006.

Montenegro hopes to become a future member of the EU and Nato; its foreign minister said the decision was guided by his county's national interests and that an independent Kosovo was a reality.

The BBC's Nick Thorpe in Pristina says that recognition by its neighbours brings both psychological and practical trading benefits for Kosovo.

The small country of only two million inhabitants, of which 90% are Albanian, has often appeared isolated in the western Balkans, our correspondent says.

Peace and stability

Serbian's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic described the decision to eject Montenegro's ambassador from the country as "proportionate".

He told the state news agency, Tanjug, that "regional countries have special responsibility in preserving peace and stability in the Balkans".

Earlier, Serbia said it was reinstating its ambassadors to the US and other Western nations that had angered it by recognising Kosovo's independence.

Serbia recalled many of its ambassadors in February from countries that backed Kosovo's unilateral declaration - a move that Serbia has condemned as illegal.

In a statement, the Serb government said the decision was made because of "continued diplomatic activity to preserve Serbia's territorial integrity and sovereignty".

It comes amid a week of both defeats and victories for Kosovan diplomacy.

On Wednesday, a substantial majority at the UN General Assembly agreed to allow Serbia to challenge the legality of Kosovan independence at the International Court of Justice.

It followed an earlier announcement by Portugal that it had recognised Pristina.

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