Serbia’s Foreign Ministry says Sierra Leone has become the latest country to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation.
A document obtained by RFE/RL's Balkan Service on March 3 appears to confirm the decision, which would make the African nation the 18th country to reverse its stance toward Kosovo.
The Serbian state news agency Tanjug also appeared to confirm the decision, which comes during a visit to Sierra Leone by Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.
“The government of the Republic of Sierra Leone is of the considered view that any recognition it had conferred (expressly or by necessary implication) on the independence of Kosovo may have been premature,” the document states.
Kosovo, formerly an autonomous province of Serbia, unilaterally declared its independence from Belgrade in February 2008.
But Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state, nor does Russia -- a key traditional ally of Belgrade.
Since 2008, much of Kosovo’s foreign policy agenda has focused on attempts to gain international recognition of its independence.
European Union-facilitated talks on normalizing diplomatic relations between the two were derailed in November 2018 by Pristina's imposition of 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods and services in response to Belgrade's continued lobbying for countries to reverse their recognition of Kosovo.
The Kosovar government on February 27 announced it would temporarily and partly lift the tariff, a move that has been met with a mixed response in diplomatic circles.
The U.S. special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo, Richard Grenell, has described the move as a "half-measure."
The European Union, however, welcomed the announcement as a "first step" that "could have a positive effect" on restoring regional trade and "offer an opening" for the resumption of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
In a step toward improving ties, Serbian and Kosovar officials earlier this year signed deals to establish air, rail, and highway links between the two countries.
Dacic was quoted by Tanjug as saying that only 92 United Nations members now recognize Kosovo, compared with 96 that don't.
Serbia Claims Sierra Leone Is Latest Country To Rescind Kosovo Recognition