UNESCO’s Executive Committee adopted, on October 21, the resolution recommending the admission of Kosovo.
The decision is seen as a victory for Kosovo, which only declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia has been tying to use any means possible to block Kosovo’s international recognition. Recently Serbian government officials, representatives of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and the Serbian Orthodox Church urged members of UNESCO to reject Kosovo’s application for membership.
The decision of the UNESCO Executive Board was adopted with 27 for votes, 14 against and 14 abstaining.
Earlier on October 21 Kosovo's foreign minister Hashim Thaci wrote on the foreign ministry’s Facebook page that he was “at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris to give the final push before the vote for Kosovo's membership. I am grateful to the citizens of Kosovo and friends for help in lobbying.”
One of Serbia’s main arguments against Kosovo’s membership of UNESCO was based on the destruction and desecration of 35 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries in March 2004 by ethnic Albanian extremists. However, according to international community representatives, Kosovan membership to UNESCO would lead to an additional obligation for its government and people to take care of all its cultural heritage, including those with Serbian roots.
Serbia broadcaster B92 reported on October 21, citing Abbot Sava Janjic from the Visoki Decani Monastery in Kosovo, which is part of the Serbian Orthodox Church, that Pristina's membership to UNESCO would be very dangerous for Serb cultural heritage.
However, according to Janjic, “whatever the decision regarding the request of Kosovo to gain membership in UNESCO, all churches there will remain part of the Serbian Orthodox Church.”
Earlier this month Serbia’s prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, sent a letter to UNESCO member states expressing concern about Kosovo’s request for membership in the organisation.
Serbia’s deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister Ivica Dacic stated after the decision was announced that Serbia will keep fighting against Kosovo's membership in UNESCO, regardless of what the UNESCO's Executive Board decided, B92 reports.
The application for Kosovo’s admission to UNESCO was formally submitted by Albania, and supported by 45 countries.