( dpa ) - Australia will recognize independent Kosovo, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Monday.
"The sorry history of Kosovo means that we've got to do whatever we can do to ensure the citizens of that part of the world are protected into the future," Rudd said.
"This would appear to be the right course of action. That's why diplomatically we would extend diplomatic recognition at the earliest opportunity."
The alacrity with which Canberra recognized Kosovo was in contrast to New Zealand, which withheld recognition.
A Serbian community organization wrote to Rudd to complain about the decision to support independence.
Marko Marinkovich, president of the Serbian Orthodox Welfare Association, said "we consider this declaration of independence unilateral, we consider this illegal, immoral, unethical and is against any democratic laws."
But Australia's Albanian community expressed joy.
Sezar Jakupi, president of the Australian Albanian Community Association, said that "within the community there's an overwhelming sense of joy and relief" and that "the people of Kosovo, the Albanians, have gone through a lot of struggle and hardship."
Around 2,000 of the Melbourne Albanian community were expected to celebrate around a video screen where Jakupi was expected to be hooked up to Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
Jakupi said Australians from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece were united in celebrating Kosovo's independence from Serbia.