PRISTINA: Kosovo's prime minister hailed comments by U.S. President George W. Bush Sunday that the disputed Serbian province of Kosovo should gain independence.
A few hours after Bush spoke in neighboring Albania, Agim Ceku appealed to Kosovo's increasingly impatient ethnic Albanians to ensure the province remains peaceful while intensifying efforts for independence.
"President Bush said that Kosovo's people need to be calm," Ceku told reporters. "The only realistic, pragmatic and possible solution is independence for Kosovo and the time for such solution is now."
Bush said the discussions over Kosovo's independence cannot go on indefinitely.
"At some point in time — sooner rather than later — you've got to say 'Enough is enough. Kosovo is independent' and that's the position we've taken," Bush said during a news conference in Tirana.
Kosovo, a province of 2 million of which 90 percent are ethnic Albanians, has been run by the U.N. since mid-1999 when a NATO air war halted a crackdown by Serb forces on independence-seeking ethnic Albanian rebels.
"President Bush confirmed and gave full support to Kosovo's independence, and in one way he declared Kosovo independent," said Ceku.
The future of Kosovo has become another thorny issue in relations between U.S. and Russia.
Russia, an ally of Serbia, contends independence would set a dangerous precedent for the world's other breakaway regions. Serbia also opposes statehood for Kosovo, which it sees as the heart of its historic homeland.