The Irish government has officially recognised the independence of the Republic of Kosovo. Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, TD (photo) made the announcement, saying he was aware that the matter was painful for Serbs. However, he stressed that Ireland's recognition of Kosovo should not be mistaken for an act of hostility towards Serbia.
On February 17th the national assembly of Kosovo had passed a resolution declaring it was an independent democratic, secular and multi-ethnic republic, guided by the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection under the law. The EU has subsequently sent a group of 2000 policemen, customs officers, judges and prosecutors to Kosovo, in order to help the new republic over its initial security problems and create legal and social stability. The country is also still protected by a multi-national military force, provided by NATO.
A number of other countries have already recognised Kosovo's independence, including the USA, Britain, France, Germany and Italy. More Western countries have declared their intention to follow suit, while Russia - traditionally the closest and strongest ally of Serbia - has condemned Kosovo's declaration of independence.