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With independence looming, Kosovo to pick a flag

The province, expected to declare statehood in coming days, is also drafting a constitution and will choose an anthem.

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Kosovo's bid for independence edged a step closer this week with the news that the new state's constitution, flag, and national emblem are to be decided in parliament in coming days.

After months of drafting, senior officials in the Kosovo government have said that the constitution upon which the new state will rest is almost complete, and they have short-listed designs for the flag and emblem.

The short list was supposed to be kept secret, but a source close to the Kosovo Symbols Commission, tasked with choosing the flag, described the final three designs that are to be presented to the parliament for selection.

The first, according to the source, is an outline of a map of Kosovo on a blue background, with yellow stars representing the aspiring state's ambition of eventual membership in the European Union. The second is a simple tricolor of red, white, and black vertical stripes. The third design is identical, but carries a spiral motif on the white segment.

The three designs have been whittled down from almost 1,000 entries in a public competition launched last year. The rules stipulated that the flag must not carry any image associated with an ethnic group but should be politically neutral to avoid aggravating tensions between the Albanian majority and Serb minority in Kosovo.

The condition has meant that designs based on Albania's flag, the black double-headed eagle on a red background that flutters above graves of Kosovo Liberation Army guerrilla fighters throughout the breakaway province, would not be considered. The flag is synonymous in Kosovo with the Albanian community and is the first choice of many Kosovars.

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