International recognition of Kosovo as a sovereign state should gain momentum with the expected ruling by the International Court of Justice on the legality of its split from Serbia, a European Union envoy said on Tuesday.
The Hague-based court is likely to respond later this year to a request by Serbia to review Kosovo's declaration of independence.
Kosovo's Albanian majority backed by the Western countries declared independence in 2008 nine years after Serbia moved ethnic cleansing in a 1998-1999 war. Nato stopped the Serbian forces in a 78-day bombing.
Kosovo is recognized as an independent state by 62 countries from mostly European Union and also Muslim countries around world such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia.
The ICJ's advisory ruling should soothe tensions, Pieter Feith, EU special representative to Kosovo and top international envoy overseeing its independence, told reporters in Brussels.
"I am working on an assumption the ruling will broadly give some comfort to the position of Belgrade and some support to the position of Kosovo," he said.
"I hope and I assume this will lead to a new wave of recognitions."
Good cooperation in the western Balkans is vital for the success of EU aspirations of countries in the region, still struggling with the difficult legacy of bloody wars that followed the collapse of Yugoslavia.
Tainted by rampant corruption, organised crime and poor rule of law, Kosovo is seen as a laggard in the region's efforts to join the 27-member bloc. EU diplomats say it is unlikely to see much progress while it remains under international supervision.
Feith said Kosovo, home to some 2 million people, was already functioning as a sovereign state but weak institutions and ethnic tensions meant it still needs oversight.
On Tuesday, EU governments also voted to extend the EU's police and justice mission (EULEX) by two years to 2012.
The EU has around 2,000 police and customs officers, judges and prosecutors helping local institutions but also dealing with sensitive cases related to corruption and war crimes.
ReutersLast Mod: 08 Haziran 2010, 23:42