Kosovo asked the UN Security Council to back its bid for UNESCO membership, which would raise Kosovo's profile in international diplomacy but is fiercely opposed by Serbia.
"We call on all members of the Security Council to support Kosovo's bid to (join) UNESCO. You can do that even though you may not yet recognize Kosovo," Kosovo's Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci told the council.
But Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic accused Kosovo of failing to protect Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries from attacks, which he argued showed poor credentials for joining UNESCO.
Kosovo and Serbia fought a war in 1998 and 1999, and the predominantly ethnic Albanian territory unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
It has been recognized as a state by more than 100 countries, including the United States and a majority of EU member states.
Dacic told the Security Council that while attacks by Islamic State jihadists on religious sites draw a worldwide outcry, "those who desecrate and destroy the Serbian cultural heritage (...) seek membership in UNESCO with a pat on the shoulders as an act of reward."
Thaci accused Serbia of attempting to "keep us isolated from opportunities in education, science and culture" by denying membership in the UN organization.
A vote by the member states of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Kosovo's request is expected in November.
Thaci said Kosovo is also seeking to join INTERPOL and the Council of Europe.