KOSOVO is celebrating 10 years of independence from Serbia in two days of festivities that started on Saturday amid reminders of the obstacles to the country’s full acceptance.

President Hashim Thaci said during a panel at the Munich Security Conference that his country’s decade-long history was “a story of success,” but he lamented the European Union’s lack of unity over Kosovo’s status as a membership candidate.

“We are not yet a member of the UN, while our journey to the EU is far too complicated,” Thaci said.

Five of the 28 EU member countries haven’t recognised Kosovo’s independence.

Thaci said through an interpreter that “if there were unity in the EU for Kosovo ... I’m convinced that the state of Kosovo would be a more sustainable and stable country”.

“Kosovo is the most pro-European, pro-American and pro-Western state in the Balkans. We are proud of this fact,” he said.

Kosovo is recognised by 117 countries, including the US and most Western powers, and has joined about 200 international organisations.

Serbia, which for centuries has considered Kosovo the cradle of its civilisation, still sees it as part of its own territory and has the support of Russia and China.

In Belgrade, Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dacic said Kosovo’s independence remains fragile and will not be concluded without an agreement with Serbia.

“This is one unsuccessful experiment,” Dacic insisted. “This is violence against Serbia, violence against international legal order.”

Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008, nine years after NATO conducted a 78-day airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanians.

It has since gained 116 diplomatic recognitions as an independent state, of which one have been withdrawn. The international community continues to be divided on the issue of Kosovan independence.

Notably, 112 out of 193 (58 per cent) United Nations (UN) member states, 23 out of 28 (82 per cent) European Union (EU) member states, 25 out of 29 (86 per cent) NATO member states, and 36 out of 57 (63 per cent) Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states have recognised Kosovo.

The government of Serbia does not recognise it as a sovereign state, but has begun to normalise relations with the government of Kosovo in accordance with the Brussels Agreement.

The EU states that do not recognise Kosovo’s independence are Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania, and Greece.

Germany has told Serbia that it must accept the sovereignty of Kosovo if it wants to join the European Union, in a blunt message that was welcomed in Pristina as it prepares to mark a decade of independence from Belgrade.

German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel met Kosovo’s leaders in Pristina on Wednesday and Thursday before travelling to Bulgaria to meet top EU and Balkan diplomats to discuss the bloc’s recently announced enlargement strategy.

“If Serbia wants to move toward the European Union, the building of the rule of law is a primary condition, but naturally also the acceptance of Kosovo’s independence,” Gabriel said alongside Kosovo’s prime minister Ramush Haradinaj.

“That is a central condition to take the path toward Europe.”

The main independence ceremony was set to take place yesterday, when Thaci and foreign minister Behgjet Pacolli are due back in Kosovo.

British singer Rita Ora, who was born in Kosovo as Rita Sahatciu and left the country with her family a year later, headlined a concert in Pristina.

At a news conference, Ora said she was more nervous than when she performed at the Oscars.

Ora and fellow British singer Dua Lipa are seen by some as among Kosovo’s best ambassadors to the international community.

In Mitrovica, the centre of the Serb-dominated part of northern Kosovo, posters declaring “Ten years of the occupation of Kosovo and Metohija” were put up in many places, the Kosovapress in Albania reported.

Walls in the city were covered with graffiti, the Serbian flag and a sign reading in Serbian: “Kosovo is Serbia – Crimea is Russia.”

Mitrovica resident Branislav Krstic said: “Unfortunately, the Serb community has not made up their mind yet about this independence.” He added: “Neither is Belgrade certain how they see the status of Kosovo.”