Latvian media split on Kosovo's independence

(dpa) - A possible clash on Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia between the 27-nation European Union and Russia spilled into Latvian media headlines on Monday.

Russian-language newspapers in the Baltic nation of 2.3 million - where about one-third are ethnic Russians - echoed the Kremlin's fears that Kosovo will set a precedent for other breakaway regions in "frozen conflicts" remaining in Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

"Thus, one country came into existence. For now," said the lead article on the Russian broadsheet Telegraf under the headline "Kosovo has warped Europe."

"In the near future, new states could possibly be forming like mushrooms after the rain. Those wishing to follow Kosovo's precedent lined up yesterday. They are Spanish Basques, Abkhasia and South Ossetia."

It is feared that Moldova's Transnistria, Georgia's South Ossetia and Abkhasia would demand recognition as independent states, brushing aside Kosovo's "unique situation."

Latvian-language newspapers, however, supported Kosovo's independence, responding to Russia's objections.

"Moscow justified its angry opposition to Kosovo's independence, saying it will set 'a universal precedent' to separatists all over the world," Aivars Ozolins said in his column in the flagship daily Diena on Monday.

"However, Russia's own acknowledgment of its own participation in conflicts in Georgia and Moldova would mean to enliven aspirations for independence or larger autonomy on Russia's own territory - it could be Chechnya or Tatarstan - where those claims have more basis."

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