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Kosovo's Independence Day

The Kosovo Parliament declared the former Serbian province a nation Sunday, sending thousands of ethnic Albanians swarming the streets in celebration of the perceived end of the struggle for independence.

Kosovo intends to be recognized as Europe's newest country. Seventeen years after the dissolution of former Yugoslavia began the dissolution is complete reported The New York Times.

In Kosovo's capital, Pristina, jubilant people danced in the streets, fired guns in the air, and waved Albanian and American flags in celebration of the end of a period of struggle. A decade ago a civil war resulted in 10,000 deaths and was followed by years of limbo under UN rule.

"This is the happiest day of my life," the AP reported Mehi Shehu, 68 said. "Now we're free and we can celebrate without fear."

The leader's of the new nation signed a iron sculpture spelling "NEWBORN" during the celebrations.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and President Fatmir Sedjdui signed the deceleration and unveiled the new national crest and flag, a blue banner featuring a gold map of the nation and 6 stars standing for the main ethnic groups.

Thaci pledged Kosovo would be a "democratic, multiethnic state."

Kosovo appealed directly to the U.S. and other nations for recognition, sidestepping the U.N. The new nation was hoping for swift international recognition, that could come Monday, when EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels Belgium.

However, Serbia denounced the declaration of independence as illegal and is outraged by the immenent loss of a territory.

Russia has rejected the declaration, warning it will set a dangerous precedent for separist groups internationally and insisted on a emergency U.N. Security Council meeting Sunday.

The U.S., which Serbia Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, believes unlawfully propped up Kosovo, will continue to work to prevent violence. The European Union appealed for calm. Both are mindful of the risk that Kosovo's declaration could cause instability.

Just hours after the declaration, a hand-grenade was set off in a U.N. courthouse north a Kosovo. No one was injured.

All 27 EU nations plan to endorse an aid plan for Kosovo at the foreign minister meeting scheduled for Monday. However, Greece, Romania, Spain, Cyprus and Slovakia, among others, plan to reject Kosovo's independence.

Kosovo is still protected by 16,000 NATO-led peacekeepers, which will work to discourage violence. However, NATO does not have immediate plans to increase its force.

All 26 NATO nations will meet Monday at the alliance headquarters.