Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German cabinet decided on Wednesday morning to back Kosovan independence. The decision will be formalized by the signature of President Horst Köhler. Germany's recognition of the new Balkan state follows that of the US and other EU nations.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, speaking in Brussels, described recognition of Kosovo as "proof that we Europeans are standing up for our responsibility towards the west Balkans."
"We are finally leaving the ghosts of the past behind us in order to be able to really look towards the future," he said, adding that he hopes that Kosovo's independence will bring peace to the region.
Germany's decision is in line with most other EU countries, although Spain, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus are all refusing to recognize the republic's sovereignty. Russia and China have also refused recognition.
Russia called an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to block the small nation's bid for independence. Serbia is expected to recall its ambassador in Berlin out of protest over the German government's decision.