Serbia ‘not happy’ with Israel’s establishment of ties with Kosovo

Serbia’s foreign minister says the government is “not happy” with Israel’s decision to recognize Kosovo, a former Serbian province whose statehood Belgrade denies and has waged a diplomatic battle to de-legitimize.

The reaction came a day after Israel and Kosovo established diplomatic ties, in what was a major victory for Pristina’s efforts to gain full global recognition of the independence it declared in 2008, following a war with Serbia in the 1990s.

Kosovo has since been recognized by much of the Western world, but its rejection by Serbia’s key allies Russia and China has locked it out of the United Nations.

Until Monday, Israel was another key holdout on Belgrade’s side.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, right, unveils a sign that will be placed at the Kosovo embassy in Jerusalem when it opens in the future; in Jerusalem, February 1, 2021. (Courtesy)

“We have invested serious efforts in our relations with Israel in recent years and we are not happy with this decision,” Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic says on public broadcaster RTS.

Israel’s move will “undoubtedly influence relations between Serbia and Israel,” he adds.

Since establishing ties in 1991, the countries have maintained good relations, with growing Israeli investment in the Balkan state.

In exchange for Israel’s recognition, Kosovo also became the first Muslim-majority territory to recognize Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital.

The deal was brokered last year by the administration of former US president Donald Trump.

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