18 February 2008 Bucharest _ Kosovo's declaration of independence was welcomed on Monday by representatives of the Hungarian minority in Romania, who have called for recognition of the former Serbian province.
"Sooner or later Romania will have to recognise Kosovo as a new independent state," Marko Bela, leader of the Democratic Union of the Hungarians in Romania, UDMR, said.
This is at variance with Romania's official position, which is to withold recognition until Kosovo independence is declared to be in conformity with international law.
In a related development, leaders of the Szeklers National Council (CNS), an organisation of ethnic Hungarians in Romania, on Sunday argued that Kosovo's independence signalled European Union support for autonomist movements.
The Romanian press also reported that a group of ethnic Hungarians celebrated Kosovo's independence declaration Sunday night in the northern Romanian city of Cluj. Rally participants carried posters
with slogans such as "Well Done, Kosovo!", "Rights for Minorities", and "Long Live National Autonomy!".
Ethnic Hungarians comprise 6,6 percent of Romania's total population according to official data.
By contrast, representatives of the 30,000 or so ethnic Serbs in Romania echoed officials in Belgrade by expressing opposition to independence for Kosovo and warning that the creation of a new state
in the Balkans "would raise tensions in the region".