Allowing Kosovo to join the Council of Europe (CoE) is contrary to international law, the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and human rights, Serbian National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dačić said in a discussion with Tiny Kox, president of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Dačić and Kox met on Tuesday (17 May) on the sidelines of a PACE Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy in Crete and discussed the importance of multilateralism for strengthening security and responding to intelligence challenges in Europe as well as the European outlook for the Western Balkans.

Kosovo filed for membership of the CoE last week after Russia, who would have vetoed its membership on behalf of Serbia, exited at the start of the Ukraine war.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after a NATO bombing campaign against Belgrade put an end to a brutal war waged on Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians by the regime of Slobodan Milošević between 1998 and 1999.

Belgrade still refuses to recognise Pristina’s independence and has sought to put obstacles to Kosovo becoming an EU candidate, joining UNESCO, and becoming a member of NATO.

Following Kosovo’s application, President Aleksander Vucic accused Kosovo of breaking international agreements.

“We will not recognise Kosovo’s independence, but our response must be smart and wise, to preserve peace and stability, to be firm, strong and persistent in protecting our interests in the desire to reach a solution by compromise and respect what was signed,” Vučić said, as reported by local media.

He said the application would cause problems in the region and questioned who had persuaded Kosovo to submit a request at this particular moment.

Still, this response was more measured than a stark warning issued a week earlier, when he threatened a response that would be “much stronger than they think” and would not be “just a statement to the media”.

Dačić also met with the former Greek Prime Minister and PACE rapporteur, George Papandreou.