Saturday 24 August 2019

Unesco rejects Kosovo membership bid

Unesco has narrowly rejected Kosovo's membership bid (AP)
Unesco has narrowly rejected Kosovo's membership bid (AP)

Unesco has narrowly rejected Kosovo's bid for membership, in a victory for Serbia and Russia and a blow to Kosovo's mission for global recognition as a state.

Those voting overall favoured Kosovo's membership, with 92 yes votes, 50 no votes and a few dozen abstentions.

According to the UN cultural agency's rules, however, the bid would have needed the support of two-thirds of those voting, or 94 yes votes.

Kosovo has been recognised by 111 countries since it declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Russia has blocked Kosovo from becoming a full UN member.

Kosovo had promised that if it became a Unesco member, it would protect the cultural heritage of Serbs, despite tensions after the 1998-99 war.

Serbia had warned that allowing Kosovo into Unesco would fuel tensions and hurt an EU-brokered dialogue.

The US delegation supported Kosovo's bid but no longer has voting rights in Unesco over a funding flap.

The close result and large number of abstentions caused initial confusion in the vote tally. The outcome surprised many delegates inside Unesco's Paris headquarters.

Kosovo applied for membership in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in September, and last month the Unesco executive board recommended that it be admitted during the body's General Conference this month.

Russia's delegation argued for the vote to be delayed, but the request was rejected and the vote went ahead.

Kosovo came under UN and Nato administration after a 1999 Nato-led air war halted a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News