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Feb 19, 2008 at 04:21pm IST

Recognition to Kosovo sparks Serbia-US row

New Delhi: The EU has decided to leave it up to national governments to recognise Kosovo's independence.

The EU has vowed to work for stability in Kosovo while leaving each member free to decide on recognising its independence.

At a news conference in Brussels, EU Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana said that the entire Western Balkans would one day join the bloc.

Seventeen EU states have recognised Kosovo so far. Russia, meanwhile, has refused to do so.

"The February 17 declaration of independence by Serbian province's Kosovo local Assembly is a blatant breach of norms and principles of international law, above all of the UN Charter, that undermines the foundations of the international relations system," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.

Outside Europe’s borders, the USA also formally recognised Kosovo as an independent state on Monday.

"In light of the conflicts of the 1990s, independence is the only viable option to promote stability in the region. The United States supports the Ahtisaari Plan and will work with its international partners to help implement it," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, referring to a plan formulated by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari to build a multi-ethnic Kosovo.

Rice further rejected Russia’s argument that Kosovo could be a precedent setter for similar secessionist movements.

Meanwhile, Serbia has recalled its ambassador to the US in response to Washington's recognition of Kosovo's independence.

"This decision by the United States will not turn the false state (of Kosovo) into a real one," said , Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said. He added that US recognition showed "the true face of America."

"America violated international law for its own interests," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Kosovo expects recognition from up to a hundred other states, like Greece, Slovakia and Bulgaria.

With inputs from Associated Press and Press Trust of India