Photo Credit: Estonian Foreign Ministry via Flickr
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci

Kosovo has expressed its firm intent to open its embassy in Jerusalem, should Israel recognize it as an independent state, Hashim Thaci, the president of the Balkan breakaway republic said. “If Kosovois recognized by Israel, I would place the Kosovo embassy in Jerusalem,” he told a local news show on Thursday, according to Kosova Press.

The Republic of Kosovo, in the former Yugoslavia, declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008. It has since gained diplomatic recognition as a sovereign state by 113 UN member states, but Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo as a state.

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The Kosovo Constitution says it is a secular state with no official state religion, offering freedom of religion and of conscience to all. However, according to a 2011 Census, 95.6% of the population of Kosovo are Muslim.

Israel has not recognized Kosovo’s sovereignty, but in 2015 suggested that it could change its position in the future. An Israeli Foreign Ministry official told The Jerusalem Post said in February 2008: “We haven’t decided when we’re going to decide, and instead will monitor events and consider the issue.”

During a visit to Israel in late October 2009, Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dačić said that “Israeli officials have confirmed that Israel will remain firm in its stand” not to recognize Kosovo, and in June 2011, then Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman stated that Kosovo’s independence is a “sensitive issue” and that Israel would consider recognizing Kosovo only after its neighbor Greece would do the same.

Things moved in Kosovo’s favor in 2011, when Serbia voted to recognize Palestine as member state of UNESCO, a move that was interpreted as anti-Israel. Serbia then declared that it would not oppose a UN resolution recognizing Palestinian sovereignty.

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