Pristina - Kosovo leaders Monday signed the new nation's constitution, saying it bolstered the legitimacy of their break with Serbia and guarantees equal rights.
More than 30 countries have recognized Kosovo's February 17 declaration of independence, and the former Serb province's leaders have been intent on locking in the symbols of statehood.
"This is a fundamental act for Kosovo," Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said at the ceremony in the capital Pristina.
"Today we are giving legitimacy to our act of declaration of the independent, sovereign and democratic Republic of Kosovo," he said.
The constitution of Europe's newest nation takes effect June 15. Modelled partly on the US constitution, it offers guarantees to minority Serbs in a country with an overwhelming ethnic Albanian majority.
Kosovo is "a state of free citizens that will guarantee the rights of every citizen, civil freedoms and equality of all citizens before the law," the preamble says.
The European Union's envoy for Kosovo, Peter Feith, congratulated the committee of Kosovo lawmakers who drafted the constitution.
"Kosovo will have a modern constitution," he said at the ceremony.
Feith's prior approval was required to ensure that the text was in line Finnish diplomat Martti Ahtisaari's proposal of internationally supervised independence for Kosovo. He approved it last week.
After the signing, the new constitution was presented to President Fatmir Sejdiu, who said it would "pave the way for the long awaited process of Euro-Atlantic integration."
"Today we've made an important step in our sovereignty by drafting our modern constitution." he said. "Today we have proved to the democratic world our seriousness." (dpa)
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