Kosovo was granted full sovereignty by the international community July 2, as the International Steering Group decided to end its political oversight process over the country. The territory will acquire full sovereignty in September.
"Today the International Steering Group has taken a historic and important decision on Kosovo," Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told reporters after a meeting of the group, DPA reported.
The group's Kosovo representative Pieter Feith, who announced the decision, said the young state had become a "modern, democratic, multi-ethnic" country.
International military and police units will still patrol Kosovo to lower the risk of ethnic violence; tensions are still high between majority ethnic Albanians and minority Serbs.
"I will communicate and cooperate with every single Serb leader elected in the North who respects the institutions of Kosovo," Thaci said, referring to the country's restive northern Serb enclave, which has been at the forefront of defying his government's authority, AP quoted.
The International Steering Group on Kosovo is composed of 23 European countries, Turkey, and the United States, and has been responsible for helping Kosovo establish democratic institutions. The mandate of the International Civilian Office, which operates under the International Steering Group, was to run out this year. The announcement July 2 affirmed expectations that Kosovo will enact remaining legislation guaranteeing and strengthening democratic institutions and human rights by September.
Serbia meanwhile was not pleased with the decision, saying it was bad news for its Serb minority.
"When any international mission in Kosovo leaves, it can mean a greater danger for both Serbs and Serbia," Oliver Ivanovic, Serbia's state secretary for Kosovo, told B92 television.
Feith, who will be leaving in September, has the power to annul laws put in place by the ethnic Albanian government and sanction or even sack politicians, AFP reported.
While Kosovo's Serb community rejected the International Steering Group "at the very beginning" and had little contact with it, "Any foreigner or foreign mission is better" as Serbs and Albanians "are not able to function" without international mediation, Ivanovic said.