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Sweden recognizes Kosovo

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Sweden recognizes Kosovo
10:51 CET+01:00
Sweden has recognized Kosovo's independence from Serbia, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

"The government has today decided to recognize the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state with its independence for the time-being supervised by the international community," the ministry said in a statement.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt would send a letter to Kosovo leaders to inform them of the Scandinavian country's decision to recognize the province's secession from Serbia, it said.

The Swedish government "regretted that no agreement could be reached in the United Nations Security Council" on Kosovo's status.

The decision to approve Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia was fraught with difficulty, according to Reinfeldt and Bildt, who characterized the Kosovo issue as a grey area of international law.

The Prime Minister said that the government had been guided by the fact that Kosovo had been under UN control since 1999.

Social Democratic foreign policy spokesman Urban Ahlin welcomed the move but was critical of the "inflexible process" that had delayed the decision until March 4th.

"We are at the end of the group of EU countries. Have we gained anything from that?" Ahlin wondered, speaking to news agency TT.

Ethnic Albanian-majority Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia on February 17 and has since been recognized by the United States and many Western countries.

But Russia has vehemently opposed the unilateral move and Western recognition of it, reflecting Moscow's historical ties with Belgrade, which continues to claim Kosovo as a Serbian province.

More than 20 countries have already recognized Kosovo's sovereignty, including European heavyweights Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

Among Sweden's Nordic neighbours, Denmark has already recognized Kosovo while Finland and non-European Union members Norway and Iceland have all said they intend to do so.

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