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Learning English - Words in the News
18 February, 2008 - Published 11:50 GMT
EU faces up to Kosovo challenge
Kosovo independence celebration
Kosovo independence celebration

European Union foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels to try to agree their reaction to Kosovo's declaration of independence yesterday. The British and French foreign ministers insisted Kosovo was a unique situation. This report from Oana Lungescu:

Listen to the story

The British foreign secretary David Miliband and the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner stood shoulder to shoulder as they arrived for the meeting. They both rejected fears from Russia and several EU countries - such as Cyprus and Spain - that Kosovo sets a dangerous precedent.

Kosovo, Mr Miliband said, was a unique situation which deserved a unique response. Both ministers insisted that the whole Balkan region, including Serbia, would be part of the EU.

Their Slovenian colleague Dimitrij Rupel, whose country was the first to break away from Yugoslavia, described this as the end of the Yugoslav crisis. "I understand many EU members will recognise Kosovo", he said, "but this is not up to the EU as a whole".

Oana Lungescu, BBC News, Brussels

Listen to the words

stood shoulder to shoulder
literally, stood close together and next to each other; here, may also have a metaphorical meaning: had very similar views

refused to accept

sets a dangerous precedent
becomes a negative example of something that many countries are unhappy about (because some territories within those countries may decide to follow Kosovo's example and declare independence)

a unique situation
a situation that no-one has ever had or experienced before

has earned (because of its qualities and actions)


said firmly

to break away from
to stop being part of, to become independent from

accept the independence of

up to
the responsibility of

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