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Kosovo takes 'historic step' towards joining Council of Europe

A Kosovo Albanian child holds the Kosovo flag during the military parade celebrations to mark the 15th anniversary of Kosovo's declaration of independence in Pristina in 2023.
A Kosovo Albanian child holds the Kosovo flag during the military parade celebrations to mark the 15th anniversary of Kosovo's declaration of independence in Pristina in 2023. Copyright ARMEND NIMANI/AFP or licensors
Copyright ARMEND NIMANI/AFP or licensors
By Euronews with AFP, AP
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"Today's decision marks a historic step, perhaps the most important since our independence," said Kosovo's Foreign Minister.

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Kosovo took a step towards joining the Council of Europe on Monday, amid fiery opposition from Serbia. 

According to AFP, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe "transmitted for opinion" Kosovo's membership application to its Parliamentary Assembly, though it is unknown when this verdict will be delivered. 

The Council of Europe is an international organisation founded after World War II to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe.

It established the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which protects the rights of every citizen within the 46 states that signed up. 

Kosovo Foreign Minister Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz welcomed the decision stating on Facebook their candidacy was approved with a two-thirds majority.

"For our new state, today's decision marks a historic step, perhaps the most important since our independence", she said, but warned the accession process remained "long and difficult".

Kosovo gained independence from Serbia in 2008, though Belgrade still opposes any international recognition of its former province. 

101 countries formally recognise the tiny Balkan state, populated mostly by ethnic Albanians, as independent, including the UK, US, France and Germany. 

In May, Pristina submitted a bid to join the Council of Europe, shortly after Russia was expelled for invading Ukraine. 

The exit of Moscow - long an ally of Serbia - was widely viewed as making it easier for Pristina to enter.  

"We will vote against so-called Kosovo joining the Council of Europe," Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters.

"This day will remain as a day of shame for the Council of Europe," added the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivica Dacic.

The Serbian President spoke to reporters a day after local elections in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo that were overwhelmingly boycotted by the Serb parties and voters there.

As a result, ethnic Albanians were elected.

Vucic praised the vote boycott by the Kosovar Serbs, saying that it represented “a peaceful political uprising.”

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