Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

PACE committee recommends that Kosovo* be invited to become a member of the Council of Europe

The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has recommended that Kosovo* be invited to become a member of the Council of Europe.

Approving a draft Opinion during a meeting held today in Paris, based on a report by Dora Bakoyannis (Greece, EPP/CD), the committee welcomed an extensive list of commitments made in writing by the Kosovo authorities and pointed out that “membership would lead to the strengthening of human rights standards by ensuring access to the European Court of Human Rights for all those who are under Kosovo’s jurisdiction”.

The full Assembly – bringing together parliamentarians from the 46 member states of the Council of Europe – is due to debate the committee’s recommendation on Thursday 18th April˚ during its forthcoming spring plenary session, when it will vote on a final Opinion on Kosovo’s application for membership. The final decision on membership is taken by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.

Membership of the Council of Europe would “catalyse momentum for Kosovo to continue to make progress in strengthening human rights, democracy and the rule of law and address outstanding challenges and matters of concern”, the committee pointed out, citing issues such as the gap between normative standards and their effective implementation, the need to improve the protection of the rights of non-majority communities, and fostering a climate conducive to trust, reconciliation and inclusion.

The committee welcomed as “a major breakthrough” the implementation of the Constitutional Court’s judgment in the case of the Visoki Dečani monastery, adding that the establishment of the Assocation of Serb majority municipalities should be a “post-accession commitment” for Kosovo which would help to ensure the protection of the rights of Kosovo Serbs, and that expropriations should be conducted “in the strictest respect of the law” and in full compliance with the Ahtisaari Plan.

Noting the deterioration in the security situation in Kosovo’s northern municipalities, the committee pointed out that “the risk of open violence in Kosovo is all too real”, and said that security depended on “the protection of the rights of the Serb community, the de-escalation of tensions and the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia”.

Acknowledging the “unprecedented circumstances” of the application, given that a number of Council of Europe member states do not recognise Kosovo as a state, the committee called for “diplomacy, dialogue and compromise”, and invited the Committee of Ministers to ensure that Kosovo’s membership was “without prejudice to individual member states’ positions as regards the statehood of Kosovo”.

The committee also recommended that the Assembly open a monitoring procedure for Kosovo, to ensure compliance with its commitments and obligations, as from its accession.

* Throughout this text, all reference to Kosovo, whether to the territory, institutions or population, shall be understood in full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and without prejudice to the status of Kosovo.

˚ Subject to the adoption by the Assembly of its final agenda.