TIRANA, Albania – President Bush, enthusiastically welcomed as the first U.S. president in this former communist nation, served notice Sunday he is running out of patience with Russia’s objections to independence for neighboring Kosovo.
“Sooner rather than later you’ve got to say ‘Enough’s enough: Kosovo is independent,’” Bush said, telling Albanians what they wanted to hear.
Albania has eagerly embraced democracy and idolizes the United States. Three stamps have been issued featuring Bush’s picture and the Statue of Liberty, and the street in front of Parliament has been renamed in his honor.
Kosovo has been run by the United Nations and NATO since 1999, when Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic’s forces were ousted after a NATO air war ended his crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of Kosovo’s population.
The U.N. Security Council has been divided over Kosovo’s independence. The United States and key European countries support Kosovo’s statehood while Russia, traditionally a Serbian ally, opposes it. Moscow says it would set a dangerous precedent for other breakaway regions.
Bush said diplomats from the United States, Russia and European Union will try to find common ground on a formula for independence.
Negotiations must result in “certain independence,” Bush said. “That’s what’s important to know.”
Bush urged Albania to help maintain peace and calm in Kosovo as the independence talks move forward.