THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Kosovo won a major victory on the world stage Thursday as the United Nations' highest court said its 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia was legal.
The nonbinding opinion, passed in a 10-4 vote by court judges, sets the stage for Kosovo to renew its appeals for further international recognition. The tiny Balkan country has been recognized by 69 countries, including the United States and most European Union nations. It needs 100 for full statehood.
The International Court of Justice's opinion, read by court president Hisashi Owada, says international law contains no "prohibition on declarations of independence" and therefore Kosovo's declaration "did not violate general international law."
"This is a great day for Kosovo, and my message to the government of Serbia is 'Come and talk to us,'" Kosovo's foreign minister, Skender Hyseni, said after leaving the court.