Montenegro recognized the independence of Kosovo on Thursday in defiance of staunch opposition from its traditional ally Serbia and warnings at home that the move could reignite instability in the Balkans.
The decision by Montenegro’s government is certain to raise tensions with Serbia. Montenegrin recognition of Kosovo represents a major blow to Serbia’s diplomatic efforts to maintain a claim over Kosovo, which declared independence in February.
Kosovo is considered by Serbs to be the cradle of their Orthodox Christian religion and statehood.
Montenegro and Serbia comprised a single state until 2006, and Montenegrin officials sided with Serbia throughout the ethnic wars in the Balkans in the 1990s.
Montenegro’s Foreign Minister Milan Rocen said that the decision, reached after intense pressure from the United States and some European Union countries, was reached unanimously among government ministers.
He said that Montenegro’s decision was reached in coordination with Macedonia. Both countries are trying to one day become members of the European Union and NATO.
“This is not a decision against Serbia, but for our future,” Rocen said.