Kosovo's government says it will apply to join the Council of Europe

·1-min read
Kosovo's government says it will apply to join the Council of Europe

Kosovo says it will apply to become a member of the Council of Europe, the continent’s top rights organisation.

The Balkan country's government said it had already ratified the relevant conventions on "human rights and elementary freedom".

The move comes after Russia quit the body on March 15 following its invasion of Ukraine.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 almost a decade after the war between ethnic Albanians and Serb forces ended in 1999. The move has been recognised by 117 countries including most EU nations.

Serbia -- and its ally Russia -- has refused to recognise Kosovo as a separate nation after 11 years of European Union-brokered negotiations.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said that his government will strongly object to Kosovo joining the Council of Europe and has called an emergency meeting.

He said Kosovo’s “mentors” in the West are behind the move, adding that Serbia would respond in a diplomatic and peaceful way.

“We are just a small, freedom-loving country which wants to preserve its sovereignty and the right to decision-making,” Vucic added.

Kosovo says it now has the necessary support of two-thirds of the 46-country organisation. The council already has an office in Pristina to assist with democratic reforms.

In November 2015, Kosovo failed to become a member of the UN cultural organization UNESCO after Belgrade lobbied against the application.

Kosovo successfully joined the international football governing body FIFA in May 2016.

Montenegro meanwhile became the latest country to join the Council of Europe on 11 May 2007.

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