Demonstrators from all over Kosovo are expected to descend on the capital Pristina today to protest at the failure of the Kosovo government to name a date for the Serbian province to become independent.
At a press conference yesterday, elected student leaders said that at midday the protesters will march to the parliament building in Pristina and wait until a member of the government comes out to give them the date for independence. "If nobody comes out we will wait until they do," said Burim Balaj, a final-year law student wearing a T-shirt with the slogan, "Everybody for the independence of Kosovo."
Another student leader pointed out that today is a "big day" because 10 December is when negotiations to decide the final state of Kosovo come to an end. "It's important that we have a fixed date for independence because international and local politicians have constantly been playing a game with us, constantly postponing and deferring independence, and we are tired of it. We have waited eight years already."
Independence "is itself a compromise," he added, when what Kosovars really want "is union with Albania." Mr Balaj added: " As long as independence is delayed, the people ...will get more angry and frustrated."
Today is Kosovo's D-Day: the deadline for international mediators to get Belgrade and Pristina to reach a negotiated settlement. And with European and American mediators having thrown in the towel after 120 days of fruitless effort, the way is now theoretically open for the leaders of Kosovo's 90 per cent Albanian population to declare an end to eight years of limbo. But a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders today is highly unlikely as they are under pressure to act with prudence and in co-ordination with the US and Europe.
Kosovo's transition to independence has, as the International Crisis Group's latest report puts it, "been greatly complicated by Russia's firm support of Serbia's refusal to accept that it has lost its one-time province" .
But Bujar Bukoshi, prime minister in the Kosovo government in exile during the 1990s and recently re-elected as an MP, said: "Independence should be proclaimed very soon, co-ordinated with the international community, because all ways and means of reaching an agreement with Serbia have been exhausted.
"This is the final phase in the approach to independence, and I hope and believe it will finish peacefully. But there is a crazy side in Serbia - [they] could be unpredictable. Russia's new assertiveness has made independence more complicated ...and Kosovo is no longer an isolated small problem."