Kosovo formally declared its independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008. The United States recognized Kosovo’s independence on 18 February. Several other countries, including the United Kingdom, France and Australia have done the same, while others — such as Germany and Poland — have declared their intention to do the same and are expected to make recognition official in the course of this week. As expected, Serbia and Russia denounced the move as illegal. Several EU countries, including Spain, Greece, Romania and Cyprus, also refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Serbia recalled its ambassadors from the United States, the United Kingdom and France and demanded that these countries’ ambassadors leave Belgrade within 24 hours. Serbia will likely take similar steps against other countries that decide to recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Since the declaration of independence there have been several protests by Serbs in Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Kosovo, the Serbian-majority enclaves have been the focus of the protests and acts of violence. On 19 February, Serbs burned down a border-crossing post between northern Kosovo and Serbia and attacked another. Kosovo police officers had to retreat from the border posts and called in NATO peacekeeping troops for reinforcement. On 18 February, approximately 10,000 Serbs demonstrated against independence in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica. International troops deployed along the main bridge that links the northern part of the town (where Serbs live) with the southern one (inhabited by Albanians). There were no reports of violence.