UNITED NATIONS -- Martti Ahtisaari, the former president of Finland and Nobel peace prize laureate, says Kosovo will remain an independent state regardless of a pending advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice.
The court's opinion is expected to be issued later this year.
"I think it's important for everybody to start understanding that whatever happens in the international courts proceedings, Kosovo is an independent state and will remain an independent state," Ahtisaari said. "And I think that's a fact that everyone has to take into consideration particularly those who have an ambition to try to join the European Union."
Ahtisaari, who is a former UN special envoy for the Kosovo status process, was speaking at UN headquarters in New York.
Currently, 69 of the UN's 192 member states recognize Kosovo as an independent state.
Officials in Serbia have consistently vowed to challenge the Kosovar sovereignty declaration of February 2008 through legal channels.