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Kosovo to create own army to 'protect sovereignty'

Kosovo's government proposed on Thursday creating a 5,000-strong army to "protect sovereignty" of the ethnic Albanian territory, six years after it seceded from Serbia. The army would double the size of the current civil emergency Kosovo security force (KPS), said a statement issued after a cabinet session. Since the end of 1998-1999 war between independent-seeking ethnic Albanian guerrillas and Belgrade forces under the command of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, NATO has been in charge of maintaining peace and security in Kosovo.

EU, Iceland and Nordic mackerel quota talks break down

Negotiations over mackerel fishing quotas have fallen apart, Iceland said Thursday, extending a dispute dubbed "the mackerel war" that has been a thorny issue in the country's EU membership bid. The European Union, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway left a meeting in Edinburgh on Wednesday without reaching an agreement for 2014. Iceland's government said that the parties should leave it there. "It is evident that the opportunity to reach an agreement for the 2014 fishing season has slipped away," the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries said in a statement.

Gunmen preventing OSCE monitors from entering Crimea

Gunmen were preventing a group of 40 military observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) from entering Crimea on Thursday for a monitoring mission, a Western diplomatic source told AFP. "They are stuck but they are not turning back. They are not being allowed in by two groups of armed people -- very professional, very well-trained," the source said. The source said the standoff began at around 1100 GMT and quoted the gunmen as saying "they were told not to let in a group but they were not sure if this was the one".

Gunmen preventing OSCE monitors from entering Crimea

Gunmen were preventing a group of 40 military observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) from entering Crimea on Thursday for a monitoring mission, a Western diplomatic source told AFP. "They are stuck but they are not turning back. They are not being allowed in by two groups of armed people -- very professional, very well-trained," the source said. The source said the standoff began at around 1100 GMT and quoted the gunmen as saying "they were told not to let in a group but they were not sure if this was the one".

Wales says Scottish independence battle will benefit UK

By Belinda Goldsmith CARDIFF (Reuters) - Scotland's fight for independence is unlikely to succeed but the battle will benefit the entire United Kingdom by leading to a rebalancing of powers, the leader of Wales, Carwyn Jones, said on Wednesday. Jones, first minister of the Welsh Assembly, opposes Scotland's bid to leave the United Kingdom, arguing it is risky and that the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that dates back 307 years is stronger together.

RugbyU: England braced for Welsh 'hate' - Nowell

Wales will be motivated by their hatred of England when the sides face off in Sunday's Six Nations showdown at Twickenham, according to English wing Jack Nowell. England are bidding to avenge last year's 30-3 loss to Wales, which enabled Warren Gatland's side to secure the title, and defeat would likely be fatal to either team's hopes of winning this year's championship.

Flood of migrants an "emergency," Spanish official says

Barcelona, Mar 4 (EFE).- Spain's interior minister said Tuesday that the pressure being exerted by undocumented migrants on the borders of the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco is an "emergency." The latest massive entry attempt on Tuesday of some 1,500 sub-Saharan migrants confirms that statement, Jorge Fernandez Diaz told reporters. The minister said that some 40,000 migrants are currently waiting in Morocco to find ways of getting into Spain, while another 40,000 are in Mauritania with the same intention.

Kosovo to create national army of 5,000 soldiers

By Fatos Bytyci PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo's government ordered the creation of a national army on Tuesday by upgrading a lightly armed civil response force six years after the majority-Albanian country seceded from Serbia. The army will comprise 5,000 active soldiers and 3,000 reservists for a landlocked country of 1.7 million people bordering Serbia, Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia.

Key facts about the 2008 Russia-Georgia war

The tug-of-war between Kiev and Moscow over Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking autonomous Crimea region recalls Russia's brief 2008 war in tiny Georgia. The five-day conflict left then Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili reeling and exacerbated tensions between Moscow and his Western supporters. Moscow justified its occupation of a significant chunk of Georgian territory with Tbilisi's alleged military attack on separatist South Ossetia which enjoyed Russia's backing.

Football: Kosovo get ready for international bow

Kosovo are gearing up for their FIFA-approved debut on the international scene when they play a friendly match against Haiti, the first in their six-year history as an independent state. "This match will break the ice, it is the end of isolation" of Kosovo in international football, their federation (FFK) chairman Fadil Vokrri told AFP ahead of the match. The match against Haiti will overcome a long impasse that saw Kosovar teams in all sports internationally isolated after Pristina unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008.
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