Kosovo, officially known as the Republic of Kosovo, is a partially recognized state located in southeast Europe that is attempting to secede from its parent country, Serbia. One of the poorest countries in Europe, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008. However, Kosovo has thus far been denied full recognition, as well as membership in the United Nations and the European Union, because Serbia continues to claim Kosovo as its own. This position is arguably ironic, as Serbia itself was formerly part of Yugoslavia, but seceded in 1992, and split amicably from Montenegro in 2006.
As of July 2022, Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state at one time or another by a total of 119 nations. However, a handful of those recognitions are ambiguous or disputed, and several other countries have withdrawn their recognition due to political pressure from countries who favor Serbia's stance over that of Kosovo. As a result, the true number of countries that recognize Kosovo is closer to 99. (Full details in table after page text.)
Countries that Recognize Kosovo as an Independent State:*
|Category||# of countries||Total|
|Recognized Kosovo in 2008||54||54|
|Recognized Kosovo in 2009||11||65|
|Recognized Kosovo in 2010-2011||19||84|
|Recognized Kosovo in 2012-2014||25||109|
|Recognized Kosovo in 2015-present||10||119|
|Recognized, but withdrawn||20||99|
*For a full list of countries in each category, see table below.
Kosovo's declaration of independence and Serbia's reaction
Serbia’s initial response to Kosovo’s declaration of independence included charging Kosovo’s leaders with high treason, litigating the case at the International Court of Justice, and recalling Serbian ambassadors to countries that recognized Kosovo (as well as expelling those countries' ambassadors from Serbia). The International Court of Justice ruled in 2010 that Kosovo's declaration of independence did was legal according to international law, but Serbia has rejected that verdict.
Despite these initial tensions, relations between Serbia and Kosovo warmed over time. In December 2012, Serbian's Prime Minister Ivica Dačić agreed to appoint a liaison officer to Kosovo as a result of European Union (EU) negotiations on Kosovo’s status. Kosovo and Serbia normalized their relations in April 2013 with the Brussels Agreement, which stated that Belgrade (the capital of Serbia) recognized Pristina (the capital of Kosovo) as having administrative power over Kosovo and that Belgrade would consider Pristina a legitimate governing authority.
The Brussels Agreement enabled both nations to eventually join the EU, and was followed the exchange of liaison officers between the two nations in June of 2013. However, relations between Serbia and Kosovo took a step backward in November 2018, when Kosovo imposed a 100% import tax on all Serbian goods. Kosovo withdrew the tax on April 1, 2020.
Other partially recognized countries
Kosovo is not the only unrecognized country. Other potential countries that are not yet internationally recognized (and are therefore not yet in the U.N.) include Palestine, Israel, Western Sahara, and Taiwan.