( dpa ) - France on Monday became the first EU member nation to recognize the independence of Kosovo when President Nicolas Sarkozy sent a letter to his Kosovar counterpart, Fatmir Sejdiu, informing him of the fact.
"I have the honour of informing you that, from this moment on, France recognizes Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state," Sarkozy declared in the letter. "I propose to you that our two countries establish diplomatic relations."
Sarkozy and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner have been at the forefront of Western diplomats demanding that Kosovo become an independent state.
Kouchner has a special interest in the fate of the region, having been the first UN Special Representative and head of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo from July 1999 to January 2001.
"I wish that the new chapter opening between France and Kosovo will lead our two countries to develop their relationship not only politically but also in the cultural, university and economic spheres," Sarkozy wrote.
He went on to say that France "attached great value to Kosovo's independence contributing to the stability of the western Balkans."
Earlier Monday, the United States also formally recognized the state of Kosovo.