On 17 February 2008, the Kosovo Assembly declared the independence of Kosovo. In the following days, while Serbia, supported by other countries, announced that it considered this declaration null and void, a number of states recognised Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state. Amongst them were all the members of the Contact Group (France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States) with the exception of the Russian Federation. Other states announced that they would not recognise the effects of the unilateral declaration of independence. As of 23 June 2008, 29 Council of Europe member states out of 47 have recognised Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state.
The declaration of independence represents a momentous political challenge for Europe. The fact that many observers had predicted it as a possible scenario does not diminish the uncertainty and the volatility of the current situation.
The months to come are key to evaluate the impact of the declaration of independence, in Kosovo and the region, and to appreciate whether, especially after the entry into force of the constitution and the restructuring of the international presence, there are authorities in Kosovo capable of ensuring good governance, the respect of the rule of law and human rights for the benefit of all the people in Kosovo. The Parliamentary Assembly should, therefore, follow the situation in Kosovo to assess these developments and make appropriate recommendations, with special attention to be given to the peaceful coexistence and reconciliation of all communities in Kosovo, the protection of the rights of communities, the presence of functioning democratic institutions at all levels and their capability to operate and ensure good governance.
At the same time, the Assembly should reassess the priorities of the Council of Europe as regards its activities in Kosovo. Most importantly, it should clearly affirm that the split between those Council of Europe member states who recognise Kosovo as a state and those who do not should not hamper the continuation of the Council of Europe’s work in Kosovo in the areas listed in Recommendation 1822 (2008), which the Assembly adopted in January 2008, as this would run counter to the interests of the people in Kosovo.