(Bloomberg) -- Serbia would consider leaving Council of Europe if its former province Kosovo is admitted into the human rights and rule-of-law organization, according to President Aleksandar Vucic. 

The Balkan nation has fought against international recognition of Kosovo and its membership in international bodies since Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008, following a war over the territory.

Most of the 46 Council of Europe members have recognized Kosovo as a country, but its bid to join the group is among the disputes that the European Union has sought to resolve over more than a decade of mediating talks between the Balkan foes.

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Accepting Kosovo’s bid to join the organization “would de-facto mean kicking out Serbia,” Vucic said in an interview to local broadcaster Prva TV on Friday night.   

“We’ll see if Serbia remains or not” if Kosovo is accepted into the Strasbourg-based organization, he said. “Maybe they would prefer to have Kosovo in the Council of Europe instead of Serbia.” 

Serbia still regards Kosovo as part of its territory, and has relied on China and Russia in challenging its sovereignty. Russia was excluded from the Council in Europe in 2022 following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Both Serbia and Kosovo aspire to join the European Union but need to normalize ties to qualify for potential membership.

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