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EU Rejects Call For Kosovo Independence - 2001-11-19

European Union foreign ministers have rejected a call by Kosovo's moderate Albanian leader, Ibrahim Rugova, for independence. But they said Kosovo's status must be resolved through a dialogue with Yugoslavia, which claims sovereignty over the province.

The European Union said it is happy about the peaceful and orderly elections that took place Saturday in Kosovo, in which Mr. Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo claimed victory.

Mr. Rugova immediately issued a call for independence for the province, which is administered by the United Nations.

Belgian Foreign Minister, Louis Michel, whose country is the current E.U. president, told reporters that the 15-nation bloc opposed such a step. "We have not changed our minds so far, which means that we are not in favor of independence for Kosovo," he said.

Mr. Michel's Austrian colleague, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said Saturday's elections were not about independence. And E.U. foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority must stick to the U.N. resolution calling for autonomy for the province in the Serb-dominated Yugoslav Federation.