Kosovo to formally apply for EU membership this week

Kosovo will apply for membership of the European Union this week, said Prime Minister Albin Kurti on Tuesday.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting Kurti said Kosovo ranks first in the region in terms of rule of law, freedom and democracy.

"We are entering a new phase in our relations with the EU. This is in line with the wishes of our citizens, who deeply believe that our future lies in the EU, as well as democratic states with which we share common values such as freedom, democracy, equality, and rule of law," said Kurti.

He added that it is time for Kosovo to turn its potential candidate status into official candidate status.

Kosovo will be the last country in the Western Balkans to apply for the EU membership process.

"The EU is a place of peace, security, equality, and prosperity. Therefore, the Republic of Kosovo naturally has a place in this common house," said Kurti.

Kosovo, predominantly inhabited by Albanians, broke from Serbia in 1999 and declared independence in 2008. It aspires for EU membership and aims to gain a visa-free regime for the EU zone.

But Serbia has not recognized Kosovo’s independence and sees its former province as its territory.

Kosovo is also not a member of NATO or the United Nations.

European Council President Charles Michel in early December said the EU will give an update on Kosovo's visa liberalization.

Kosovo is among a handful of countries in Europe which is outside the EU’s visa-free regime.

Source: Anadolu Agency