The Kosovo government says it will apply to join the Council of Europe

Kosovo says it will apply to become a member of the European Councilthe continent’s most important rights organization.

The government of the Balkan country has stated that it has already ratified the related conventions on “human rights and elementary freedoms”.

The move comes after Russia left his body on March 15 following his invasion of Ukraine.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 nearly a decade after the war between Albanians and Serbian forces ended in 1999. The move was recognized by 117 countries, including most of the EU nations.

Serbia – and its ally Russia – has refused to recognize Kosovo as a separate nation after 11 years of EU-mediated negotiations.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said his government would strongly oppose Kosovo’s accession to the Council of Europe and called an emergency meeting.

He said Kosovo’s “mentors” in the West are behind the move, adding that Serbia will respond diplomatically and peacefully.

“We are just a small, freedom-loving country that wants to preserve its sovereignty and the right to decision-making,” added Vucic.

Kosovo says it now has the necessary support of two-thirds of the 46-country organization. The council already has an office in Pristina to assist in democratic reforms.

In November 2015, Kosovo failed to become a member of the United Nations cultural organization, UNESCO, after Belgrade lobbied the request.

Kosovo successfully joined the governing body of international football FIFA in May 2016.

Montenegro meanwhile became the last country to join the Council of Europe on 11 May 2007.