Kosovo marks decade of independence as Rita Ora headlines celebrations

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Kosovo is celebrating 10 years of independence from Serbia in two days of festivities that started on Saturday amid reminders of the obstacles to the country’s full acceptance.

President Hashim Thaci said during a panel at the Munich Security Conference that his country’s decade-long history was “a story of success,” but he lamented the European Union’s lack of unity over Kosovo’s status as a membership candidate.

“We are not yet a member of the UN, while our journey to the EU is far too complicated,” Thaci said.

Five of the 28 EU member countries haven’t recognised Kosovo’s independence. Thaci said through an interpreter that “if there were unity in the EU for Kosovo … I’m convinced that the state of Kosovo would be a more sustainable and stable country”.

Kosovo Independence Anniversary
Kosovo-born British singer Rita Ora meets with Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Kosovo is recognised by 117 countries, including the US and most Western powers, and has joined about 200 international organisations.

Serbia, which for centuries has considered Kosovo the cradle of its civilisation, still sees it as part of its own territory and has the support of Russia and China.

In Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Kosovo’s independence remains fragile and will not be concluded without an agreement with Serbia.

“This is one unsuccessful experiment,” Dacic insisted. “This is violence against Serbia, violence against international legal order.”

Kosovo Independence Anniversary
Thousands of people walk down the main pedestrian zone in Pristina, Kosovo, on the 10th anniversary of the country’s independence (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

The main independence ceremony is taking place on Sunday, when Thaci and Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli are due back in Kosovo.

British singer Rita Ora, who was born in Kosovo as Rita Sahatciu and left the country with her family a year later, headlined a concert in Pristina.

At a news conference before the show, Ora said she was more nervous than when she performed at the Oscars.

Ora, fellow British singer Dua Lipa, American singer Bebe Rexha and two-time world judo champion Majlinda Kelmendi are seen as Kosovo’s best ambassadors.

Kosovo Anniversary Concert
Kosovo-born British singer and actress Rita Ora performs during her concert (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Walls in the city were covered with graffiti, the Serbian flag and a sign reading in Serbian: “Kosovo is Serbia – Crimea is Russia.”

“Unfortunately, the Serb community has not made up their mind yet about this independence. Neither is Belgrade certain how they see the status of Kosovo,” Mitrovica resident Branislav Krstic said.

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