WESTERN ELATION at the election success of moderates in Kosovo was undermined yester-day when European Union foreign ministers clashed with the poll's victor over his pursuit of independence for the province.
At a meeting in Brussels, the ministers welcomed the peaceful and orderly elections in Kosovo and diplomats said they were particularly heartened by indications that a reasonable proportion of Serbs took part. But in a clear sign of difficulties to come, they rejected statements from Ibrahim Rugova, the new Albanian leader, that his main priority would be the pursuit of independence.
Mr Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo won slightly more than 46 per cent of the vote, giving him a clear mandate to lead the province but denying him the overwhelming margin to rule alone.
The Democratic Party of Kosovo, led by the former rebel leader Hashim Thaci, gained 25.5 per cent of the vote and a coalition representing Kosovo's minority Serbs finished with marginally less than 11 per cent.
Mr Rugova is a moderate who stood out as a figurehead of peaceful opposition to Slobodan Milosevic, the former president, and who has long espoused the goal of independence - supported by the majority of ethnic Albanians. But his call for an independent Kosovo received a dusty response in Brussels.
Louis Michel, the Foreign Minister of Belgium, which holds the EU presidency, said "Our position has not changed. We do not favour independence."
Jaime Gama, the Portu-guese Foreign Minister, said that the UN Security Council resolution on Kosovo, which envisages wide autonomy for the territory but within the Yugoslav federation, should remain the guide to …