The government of Serbia encouraged mass demonstrations in the streets of Belgrade against the Kosovo announcement of independence. An estimated 200,000 people took part in the protest and as the evening wore on, hundreds headed for the United States Embassy to express anger at American support for Kosovo. Protestors trashed rooms, ripped down an American flag and set the building on fire. Firemen later found the body of one of the protestors who apparently died in the evening’s confusion. The United States issued a strong condemnation of the riot and said it would “hold the Serbian government personally responsible for th safety and well-being of our embassy employees.” The European Union also made clear its disapproval of acts of violence. Serbia has withdrawn its ambassadors from Autria and Germany because their governments have recognized Kosovo independence.
Lost in the night of rioting was increased concern in many parts of Europe which harbor separatist groups within their nations. Spain has problems with both Basque and Catalan separatists who might take hope from the success of Kosovo. Russia is always concerned about the issue of separatism since its nation contains many diverse ethnic and racial groups who not only have differing historical devlopments but are Muslim in religion.
The question of the hour is not so much the independence of Kosovo, but does it open a pandora’s box of separatist desires.