Kosovo is celebrating 10 years of independence from Serbia in two days of festivities that started amid reminders of the obstacles to the country's full acceptance.
President Hashim Thaçi 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."
Five of the 28 EU member countries haven't recognised Kosovo's independence.
Thaçi 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 is the most pro-European, pro-American and pro-Western state in the Balkans. We are proud of this fact."
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. Dacic insisted:
"This is one unsuccessful experiment. This is violence against Serbia, violence against international legal order."
In Mitrovica, the centre of the Serb-dominated part of northern Kosovo, posters declaring "10 years of the occupation of Kosovo and Metohija" were put up in many places, the Kosovapress in Albania reported.
Walls in the city were covered with graffiti, the Serbian flag and a sign reading in Serbian: "Kosovo is Serbia - Crimea is Russia."
Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008, nine years after NATO conducted a 78-day airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanians.
Last month, the Ministry of Defence announced that reservists with specialist skills will join the UK contribution to the NATO mission in Kosovo.
Cover picture courtesy of Pixabay.