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Current situation in Kosovo

Addendum to the report | Doc. 11018 Add. | 21 December 2006

Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy
Rapporteur :
Lord David RUSSELL-JOHNSTON, United Kingdom

My report on the current situation in Kosovo was adopted by the Political Affairs Committee on 18 September 2006. Since that date, among the various developments, there have been two particularly significant ones which, as rapporteur, I feel duty-bound to underline in order to update my report.

The first development relates to the adoption by Serbia of a new constitution. Following the adoption by the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, on 30 September 2006, a referendum was held on 28 and 29 October 2006, by which a majority of Serbian citizens voted for the constitution.

It has to be said that the need to adopt a new constitution was long overdue given that the previous constitution adopted under the Milošević regime on 28 September 1980 no longer reflected the political reality in the wake of the break-up of the federal state of Yugoslavia.

However, the hasty manner in which both the constitution was adopted and the referendum was organised cannot be welcomed, a point which was emphasised by my colleague, Mr Alexander Fomenko, in his report on the mission of the Ad hoc Committee of the Bureau to observe the constitution referendum (see Doc. 11102, notably paragraph 12). Clearly, this process was dictated by political expediency. The inclusion in the preamble of the new constitution of a provision declaring Kosovo an integral part of Serbia, at a time when publication of the outcome of the United Nations status talks was still expected before the end of the year, amply illustrates this point.

The second development relates to the timing of the proposals on the status of Kosovo. Mr Martti Ahtisaari, the United Nations’ special envoy for Kosovo, is preparing a comprehensive proposal for settling Kosovo’s status and was due to present his proposal by the end of the year 2006.

However, following the call for parliamentary elections in Serbia for 21 January 2007, and amid much speculation about the timing of Mr Ahtisaari’s proposal, Mr Ahtisaari announced on 10 November 2006, after consulting the Contact Group in Vienna the same day, that he would “present his proposal for the settlement of Kosovo’s status to the parties without delay after parliamentary elections in Serbia”.

It is my view that the debate to be held in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at its January 2007 part-session is both timely and useful.