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Rajoni

Analysis of REL: Kosovo's ambitions for membership in the Council of Europe, towards the finish line or blocking?

Analysis of REL: Kosovo's ambitions for membership in the Council of

Kosovo could take a step closer to membership in the Council of Europe on April 16, when its Parliamentary Assembly will consider a report recommending its membership.

A vote will be held in Strasbourg, and if two-thirds of national parliamentarians, representing the organization's 46 member states, give the green light, the matter will go before the Council of Europe's foreign ministers exactly one month later, and they will make the final decision.

Membership in the Council of Europe – a goal of Kosovo since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008 – would mean, among other things, the representation of its parliamentarians in the organization's Parliamentary Assembly. Kosovars could also present their cases to the European Court of Human Rights. The country would also join the European Broadcasting Union, paving the way for its participation in the annual Eurovision Song Contest.

The chances are that two-thirds of the votes will be reached. A report on this issue was approved on March 27 by the Committee for Political Affairs and Democracy of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which stated that "Kosovo's aspirations to join the Council of Europe should receive a positive response."

Now, 12 of the 46 member states of the Council of Europe do not consider Kosovo an independent state - less than the blocking minority.

They include Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the five EU countries: Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

They do not have any common ground, but most of these countries are against the independence of Kosovo either because of their internal territorial disputes, or because of their issues with minorities, who could potentially seek independence.

However, not all representatives of these countries can vote according to the political views expressed from their capitals about Kosovo.

Ukrainian representatives, for example, will have "one free vote" and other countries may follow suit.

There are likely to be plenty of representatives who will choose to abstain – which would pave the way for a green light for Pristina. It is also significant that the author of the report, Dora Bakoyannis, is the former Foreign Minister of Greece and the sister of the current Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Consequently, the possibility cannot be excluded that the Greek delegation - despite the formal position of non-recognition of Kosovo - will support its membership in the Council of Europe.

So there will be a numbers game in Strasbourg.

Deputetët e partisë në pushtet të Hungarisë, Fidesz, ka të ngjarë të votojnë kundër Kosovës, pavarësisht njohjes së Kosovës nga Hungaria. Kjo reflekton lidhjet gjithnjë e më të ngushta të Budapestit me Serbinë.

Në këtë mes mund të ndihmojë edhe grupi i atyre që Këshilli i Evropës i quan “juristë të shquar”, të cilët e kanë studiuar çështjen e anëtarësimit eventual të Kosovës nga pikëpamja ligjore.

Ata kanë pohuar se vlerësimi për shtetësinë, në fund të fundit, është një vendim politik, dhe kanë theksuar se prania e Kosovës në organizatat ndërkombëtare nuk sjell ndonjë kompetencë ekzekutive, se autoritetet e Kosovës ushtrojnë juridiksion mbi territorin dhe popullsinë e Kosovës, se Kosova ka marrëdhënie ndërkombëtare dhe se Gjykata Ndërkombëtare e Drejtësisë ka konstatuar se shpallja e pavarësisë së Kosovës nuk ka qenë në kundërshtim me të drejtën ndërkombëtare. Pra, bazë ligjore për anëtarësim ka.

Ka disa arsye për këtë. Fillimisht, Rusia është përjashtuar nga Këshilli i Evropës menjëherë pas pushtimit në shkallë të plotë të Ukrainës, në shkurt të vitit 2022. Me Moskën jashtë organizatës, Serbia ka humbur një nga aleatët e saj më të mëdhenj në këtë luftë. Pastaj është edhe fakti se Kosova, tashmë, u është bashkuar disa organeve të lidhura me Këshillin e Evropës, si Komisioni i Venecias dhe Banka për Zhvillim e Këshillit të Evropës.

I lidhur me këtë zhvillim është edhe dialogu për normalizimin e marrëdhënieve mes Kosovës dhe Serbisë, i ndërmjetësuar nga BE-ja, i cili vazhdon në nivele të ndryshme diplomatike që nga viti 2011.

Është e drejtë të thuhet se ky dialog gjendet tani në nivelin më të ulët ndonjëherë, për shkak të një numri incidentesh që kanë ndodhur vitin e kaluar, përfshirë këtu vendimin e Prishtinës për përdorimin e targave të Kosovës, dorëheqjen masive të serbëve të Kosovës nga policia dhe zyra të tjera publike, zgjedhjet lokale pa pjesëmarrjen e serbëve dhe sulmin – e lidhur me Beogradin – në Manastirin e Banjskës, i cili ka rezultuar me vrasjen e një zyrtari të Policisë së Kosovës.

Por, para kësaj, është dukur se është bërë një përparim i madh me Marrëveshjen e Ohrit, të cilën Kosova dhe Serbia e kanë arritur verbalisht në mars të vitit 2023.

Në njërën nga pikat e saj thuhet se “Serbia nuk do ta kundërshtojë anëtarësimin e Kosovës në asnjë organizatë ndërkombëtare”. Dy dispozita të tjera janë, gjithashtu, të rëndësishme në këtë kontekst: se Kosova “do të angazhohet të sigurojë një nivel të duhur të vetëmenaxhimit për komunitetin etnik serb në Kosovë” dhe “do të garantojë sigurinë e pronave të Kishës Ortodokse Serbe brenda kufijve të saj”.

Në lidhje me këtë marrëveshje janë edhe dy gjëra që duhet të dihen. Së pari, ajo nuk është nënshkruar nga asnjëra palë, edhe pse kryeministri i Kosovës, Albin Kurti, ka shprehur së paku gatishmëri për ta bërë një gjë të tillë. Pra, ligjshmëria e marrëveshjes është e diskutueshme. Së dyti dhe më me rëndësi, nuk ka ndonjë pajtim se çfarë duhet zbatuar së pari.

Kosovo, in a certain sense, has moved first. This happened when its Government decided in March to hand over ownership of 24 hectares of land to the Monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Deçan, in the western part of Kosovo.

The Constitutional Court of Kosovo ruled in favor of the monastery as early as 2016, but successive governments of Kosovo have refused to implement that decision.

This turn has pushed Bakoyannis to recommend Kosovo's membership in the Council of Europe.

However, Kosovo has two other tasks to perform: the establishment of the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority and the handling of the issue of property expropriation in those municipalities. According to Bakoyannis's report, both of these issues should be a "post-accession commitment" of Pristina. And the question is whether the wider international community agrees with this.

If the matter goes to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, real politics, then, will be made around the decision of the Committee of Ministers next month. As in the Parliamentary Assembly, the decision could be taken by a two-thirds majority, but it would be unprecedented – ministers have, until now, always reached a consensus on accepting new members.

Serbia has already hinted that it will do everything possible to prevent Kosovo's membership, and it may succeed.

One scenario could be that no final decision is taken at all in May.

The so-called QUINT, made up of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, wants to see a real draft law, presented by Kosovo, on the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities, before agreeing that the issue to be on the agenda at the ministerial meeting.

They see this as their last chance to pressure Kurt to agree on this issue, as membership of the Council of Europe is the last western carrot offered to him. EU membership is still a dream.

For the establishment of this association, Kosovo and Serbia agreed in 2013, but the Constitutional Court of Kosovo has questioned the legality of the agreement, both for the executive powers that the Association would enjoy, and for its ethnic composition, as it seems that there can be no non-Serbs employed there – which, it is argued, would be unconstitutional.

So Kosovo could be given a boost this week during the vote in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, but the final decision by the 46 foreign ministers could be delayed for at least a year if more progress is not made in the coming weeks. REL