The former culture minister of Serbia Predrag Marković has indicated that the country will appeal to Pope Francis for support in its attempts to block Kosovo from joining UNESCO.
The appeal marks the latest in a prolonged and complex battle between Serbia and its small, Albanian-majority neighbour as to Kosovo’s recognition on the international stage. The Executive Board of the UN’s cultural arm has already ratified Kosovo’s application for membership; the decisive vote by member states as to its membership status will take place next month
Ivica Dadić, Serbia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and the head of the SPS, has argued that Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, be barred from consideration by UNESCO on legal grounds relating to the ongoing activity of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Priština. Now, Mr Marković has cited the current Pope’s nationality as further cause for Serbian optimism.
In an interview with Serbian TV station Palma Plus, Mr Marković noted that Pope Francis hails from Argentina, another state not to recognise Kosovan independence. Because of this, he argued, the papal state “could play a major role on the issue of Kosovo’s admission to UNESCO.” Pope Francis’s personal position on the matter is not known. Mr Marković has also claimed that Kosovo lacks the facilities and expertise to preserve its precious artefacts of Serbian cultural heritage in keeping with international standards.
Kosovo’s Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Salimi has previously claimed that 15 of the world’s “most influential” states intend to vote in favour of Kosovo’s membership.