(dpa) - Kosovo passed a new constitution Wednesday, less than two months after it declared independence from Serbia with Western support.
The 107 legislators taking part in the session unanimously backed the document, which would come into effect on June 15. Leaders of the vastly dominant Albanian majority hailed the "historic act."
"Today is the most important day since the February 17 declaration of independence," President Fatmir Sejdiu said. "The constitution takes Kosovo to a new level of democracy."
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said that after the independence claim and recognition by "world's most powerful countries ... the new reality of Kosovo will have more support" with a constitution.
The United States and leading European Union countries quickly recognized Kosovo. Washington opened an embassy in Pristina on Tuesday signalling continued strong support.
Serbia, backed by Russia, continues insisting on sovereignty over the breakaway province, accusing the West of violating international rules with its support of Kosovo.
Belgrade has also instructed the minority Kosovo Serbs, grouped in enclaves, to refuse cooperation with authorities in Pristina and also the EU mission sent to help the province's first sovereign steps.
The Albanian leaders again sought to allay Serb fears that they would be driven out of their homes from the new state.
"This Constitution is ours, of all its citizens regardless of their ethnicity. We have decided to follow the path of the democratic and free countries," Thaci said.
According to Sejdiu, protection "guarantees to minority communities are now our constitutional obligation."
Belgrade and the Serbs, who have also boycotted the parliamentary and local polls late last year, are certain to continue ignoring Pristina and the EU in Kosovo.
The province has been under UN administration since NATO ended a conflict there in mid-1999 by ousting Belgrade's security forces.