17 February 2008 Bucharest _ Romania looked set on Sunday to follow the European Union’s lead by joining a future EU mission in Kosovo, following the breakaway Serbian province’s unilateral declaration of independence.
However, Romania has so far signalled unwillingness to formally recognise independence for Kosovo.
Mircea Geoana, leader of the opposition Social Democrats, on Sunday asked for deployment of a Romanian police contingent within the EU force for Kosovo to be made only with parliamentary approval.
Such a deployment was foreseen last month by the country’s Supreme Council of National Defence, CSAT, which approved the deployment of 175 police officers and gendarmes in Kosovo, pending final EU approval for a police mission.
The CSAT is the authority responsible for coordinating national security.
While Romanian leaders remained firm in their view that Bucharest would not recognize Kosovo's forthcoming independence, unless it is declared in conformity with international law, the country's ethnic minorities expressed different views.
Leaders of the Szeklers National Council (CNS), an organisation of ethnic Hungarians in Romania, argued that Kosovo’s independence signalled European Union support for autonomist movements.
Szekler is another name for the Hungarians of east Transylvania. Some 600,000 Szeklers constitute the majority population in three counties in central Romania, and they have long campaigned for an autonomous region in Transylvania.
Representatives of ethnic Serbs in Romania, of whom there are some 30,000, echoed officials in Belgrade by opposing any future independence for Kosovo and warning that the creation of a new state in the Balkans "would raise tensions in the region".