The International Monetary Fund has offered Kosovo membership, giving one of Europe's poorest nations access to millions of dollars in IMF-backed loans.
The IMF announced on Friday that the executive board had certified a vote by the fund's Board of Governors to offer membership to the the small landlocked country, that broke away from Serbia last year.
It said Kosovo would officially become an IMF member when its representatives sign the relevant papers in Washington, where the 185-member fund is headquartered.
Kosovo's finance minister said recently that while it was close to joining the IMF, it had no plans to ask for money right away.
Kosovo broke away from Serbia in February 2008 and applied for IMF membership even though it is not a UN member. The IMF recognized Kosovo's secession last year and said it would consider its membership application, as a sovereign Balkan state, "in due course".
The IMF's voting structure allowed Kosovo to gain membership despite the objections of Serbia, Russia and others that have refused to recognize its independence.
Only the United States has an effective veto over the IMF's decisions, unlike the United Nations, where Russia could block Kosovo's efforts to join.
Fifty-eight countries have recognized Kosovo's secession, including the United States and most European Union countries, which have the majority voting power at the IMF. Kosovo has also applied for World Bank membership.
(Deutsche Welle, May 10)