- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2007


Independence dream closer after report

PRISTINA, Serbia — For Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians, a new U.N. proposal opens the door to their long-awaited dream of independence.

U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari described Kosovo as an independent state in a document released Friday, and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Agim Ceku said yesterday that he expected Mr. Ahtisaari to recommend independence in his final report to the U.N. Security Council.

“Kosovo is definitely running the last mile toward independence,” Mr. Ceku told the Associated Press.

Serbia’s Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and other Serb leaders said they would call a special session of parliament to discuss what steps to take in response to the U.N. plan.

The ultranationalist Serb Radical Party, which won the most votes in January in parliamentary elections, demanded that parliament adopt a resolution binding all officials to fully oppose independence for Kosovo.


Soccer games halted over policeman’s death

ROME — Months after a game-fixing scandal shook Italian soccer, the sport was rocked again when rioting by fans left a police officer dead and scores of people injured.

The mayhem, during a game between Sicilian teams Catania and Palermo, prompted soccer officials to suspend matches this weekend for the first time in more than a decade.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi promised drastic measures and “radical change.”

“People must understand that there must be a turning point,” he said. “We can’t keep risking the lives of law police officers.”


Protesters target Basque attacks

MADRID — Nearly 200,000 activists yesterday answered a call from Spain’s conservative opposition and turned out in Madrid to protest any talks with the armed Basque separatist group ETA.

The march followed the bombing of a parking garage at Madrid airport at the end of December when two Ecuadoreans died.

The Popular Party (PP) headed the protest, and there were calls for the resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, blamed for favoring a dialogue with ETA.

Police said about 180,000 people took part while the PP-run city authorities put the turnout at 1.5 million.

“No negotiations with killers,” participants shouted. National flags were waved, and placards called for Mr. Zapatero to step down and said Spain deserved another prime minister.

The government’s communications secretary, Fernando Moraleda, said the rally was aimed more at the government than at ETA.


Ethnic Hungarians say no to secession

BRATISLAVA — The party representing the Hungarian minority in Slovakia yesterday insisted it had no ambitions for independence such as those held by Kosovo’s Albanians.

“In our program, you will find nothing which would threaten the territorial integrity of Slovakia,” Bela Bugar, leader of the Hungarian Coalition Party, told reporters at a meeting of party leaders.

He was reacting to claims made earlier by Boris Zala, head of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, who said that independence for Kosovo could encourage separatist ambitions in the Hungarian minority, which is half a million strong and makes up 10 percent of the population.

Communal tensions have a long history in Slovakia, which became independent in 1993 but was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire for centuries.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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