Kosovo celebrates 10 years of independence, Serbs boycott

Kosovo-born British singer and actress Rita Ora performs during her concert in the capital Pristina on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, on the 10th anniversary of the country's independence. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Kosovo Security Force members march during a military and police force parade in Kosovo capital Pristina on Sunday Feb. 18, 2018, marking the 10th anniversary of the country's independence. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A child holding Kosovo national flag is carried down the main pedestrian zone in Pristina, Kosovo on Saturday Feb. 17, 2018, on the 10th anniversary of the country's independence. Kosovo is celebrating 10 years of independence from Serbia in two-day festivities around the country on Saturday. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A child dressed in Albanian national clothing is carried down the main pedestrian zone in Pristina, Kosovo on Saturday Feb. 17, 2018, on the 10th anniversary of the country's independence. Kosovo is celebrating 10 years of independence from Serbia in two-day festivities around the country on Saturday. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Protesters wave Serbian flags during a protest rally against 10th anniversary of Kosovo independence, in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Kosovo is celebrating 10 years of independence from Serbia in two-day festivities around the country on Saturday. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Kosovo Security Force members march during a military and police force parade in Kosovo capital Pristina on Sunday Feb. 18, 2018, marking the 10th anniversary of the country's independence. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Kosovo police members of special unit march during a military and police force parade in Kosovo capital Pristina on Sunday Feb. 18, 2018, marking the 10th anniversary of the country's independence. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Fans waving Kosovo flags cheer as Kosovo-born British singer and actress Rita Ora performs a concert in the capital Pristina on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, on the 10th anniversary of the country's independence. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

PRISTINA, Kosovo — The Kosovo Assembly, or Parliament, convened in a special session Sunday to celebrate the country's 10 years of independence — a ceremony boycotted by the country's ethnic Serb lawmakers.

Speaker Kadri Veseli pledged that "the second decade of independence would be focused on the economic well-being of Kosovo's citizens."

The second day of celebrations continued with a parade of military and police forces and a state reception.

In Feb. 17, 2008, Kosovo's Parliament unilaterally declared independence from Serbia nine years after NATO conducted a 78-day airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanians.

Kosovo, one of poorest countries in Europe, has taken a first step to European Union membership by signing a Stabilization and Association Agreement. But the country faces serious challenges besides its relations with Serbia, including establishing the rule of law and fighting high unemployment, corruption and organized crime.

Kosovo is recognized by 117 countries, including the U.S. and most Western powers but Serbia still sees Kosovo as part of its own territory and has the support of Russia and China.

A day earlier in Serbia's capital, Belgrade, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Kosovo's independence remains fragile and won't be concluded without an agreement with Serbia.

____

Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania contributed.

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