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Reports: PM says Kosovo to declare independence Sunday

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  • NEW: Kosovar PM says Kosovo to declare independence Sunday, say agencies
  • Serbia and its ally Russia say they will oppose any independence decree
  • U.S., EU are expected to recognize the newly independent nation
  • EU finally agrees on security and administrative taskforce for Kosovo
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(CNN) -- Kosovo will declare independence from Serbia on Sunday, Kosovar prime minister Hashim Thaci has said, according to agency reports.

A Serbian boy plays in the street behind barbed wire in the southwestern Kosovar town of Orahova.

Thaci said that on Sunday the "will of the citizens of Kosovo" would come into force, according to reports carried by the AFP agency following his meeting with religious leaders.

The agency added that newspapers in the Kosovar capital Pristina said the official declaration would be at 1400 GMT, although the newspapers did not reveal their sources.

"Tomorrow will be a day of calm, of understanding and of state engagements for the implementation of the will of the citizens of Kosovo," Thaci is reported to have said to journalists, adding that it would be a "a day of thanksgiving for a sovereign and independent Kosovo."

Kosovo, a province of Serbia, is currently under U.N. control, with a majority ethnic Albanian population that wants independence; the minority Serbs generally want to stay part of Serbia. Serbia's government also opposes independence.

Earlier Saturday the European Union finally agreed on a security, administrative and legal taskforce to aid Kosovo once it makes its much anticipated declaration.

The EU force will be fully operational by early summer and may eventually grow to more than 2,000 people, including judges and law specialists as well as police and security experts. The hope is that it will help boost and build the necessary security, administrative and legal infrastructure for the new nation.

Foreign ministers from EU states will discuss Kosovo Monday and try to adopt a common position; several member states such as Spain and Greece, which have regions within their own borders pushing for independence, have indicated they will not recognize Kosovo. The United States has fully backed independence,

Thaci vowed Friday that the rights of minorities will be protected after the province declares independence. Thaci assured minority groups -- especially Serbs -- that they would have a role in society and government in a future Kosovo.

"We aim to build in Kosovo -- it being a country that can accommodate all the citizens of Kosovo -- a country of equal opportunities and of the most affirmative (action) possible for the minorities, primarily the Serbs," Thaci said in Kosovo's capital of Pristina.

But as Thaci spoke of independence, Serbia's prime minister called for unity and promised to reject any attempt by Kosovo to break away.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica spoke at a ceremony marking Serbia's National Day, which commemorates the birth of the Serbian state.

"All of our state institutions and citizens should be united today," Kostunica told the crowd in Orasac, site of the first Serbian uprising against the Turks in 1804.

"There should be no differences between us. This is why, as you know, the government of Serbia reached the historic decision yesterday to annul, ahead of time and for all time, the declaration of a fake state on Serbian territory."

Moves by Kosovo towards independence accelerated late last year after U.N.-organized talks to sort out the province's final status broke down and Thaci came to power. He made declaring independence his priority.

But Russia -- Serbia's historic ally -- has promised to block any recognition of an independent Kosovo at the United Nations. An emergency meeting at the United Nations Thursday failed to resolve the issue.


Kosovo has been under U.N. control since shortly after NATO warplanes forced out Serbian forces in 1999. NATO acted after Serbian forces repressed an uprising of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo with a brutal campaign that spawned reports of ethnic cleansing and an exodus of tens of thousands of refugees.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic has promised his country will refrain from using force against Kosovo after independence, though he has warned that Serbia will take punitive diplomatic, political, and economic measures. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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