Pressure Mounts on Kosovo Independence
This is the first piece in a two-part series.
The final chapter soon may be written in the bloody Balkan wars that ripped apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s and re-wrote the map of southern Europe.
The United Nations Security Council is discussing a proposal to set the province of Kosovo clearly on the path to independence from Serbia.
The United States strongly backs an independent Kosovo, insisting that is the only way to bring stability to the region. But Russia, also a key player in the process, adamantly insists Kosovo stay a part of Serbia.
Kosovo's Prime Minister Agim Ceku is not ruling out simply declaring independence, but only if the European Union and the United States agree to recognize and support the new country.
Western officials say they don't want the U.N. process to stall to the point Kosovo would declare independence.
Meanwhile, Kosovo Albanians have already started working on a constitution. No ethnic Serbs are involved in the process, but members of the ethnic Albanian political parties that are a part of the process say it's very informal.
American and European politicians say anything short of independence could lead to violence, as the frustrated Albanians in Kosovo are determined to be free from Belgrade.
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