The European Stability Initiative (ESU), a Berlin-based think tank, has urged Kosovo to apply for membership in the Council of Europe (CoE) following Russia’s suspension from decision-making in the organization.
ESU’s proposal drew the support of Viola von Cramon, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Kosovo.
A previous ESU proposal to suspend Russia’s representation rights in the CoE was heeded and adopted by its assembly last week.
In their proposal on Kosovo, ESU argues that the aftermath of Russia’s suspension is good timing to accept Kosovo, and “demonstrates that the Council of Europe remains the most relevant institution bringing together European democracies committed to the European Convention on Human Rights.”
They also lay out the accession procedure based on the example of Montenegro, the last country to become CoE member in 2006.
A two third majority at the CoE Committee of Ministers is required to approve new memberships. The committee currently has 46 voting-members, of which 34 recognize Kosovo, amounting to more than two-third of the total.
While the required majority was not very different before Russia’s suspension, ESU argues that the time is right for CoE to show strong its commitment to human rights, democracy and rule of law by accepting Kosovo right away.
CoE members that do not recognize Kosovo can be classified in three groups:
Serbia, who considers Kosovo its integral territory, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where Serbs hold a veto in federal decisions.
Former USSR states who have territorial disputes within them: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine.
EU member states – Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Romania and Slovakia – roughly because of fears of secession of ethnic minorities within their states.
However, the ESU proposal clarifies that their vote against cannot stop the remaining 34 countries from opening the CoE for Kosovo.
MEP Viola von Cramon supported the proposal: “I have been advocating this for a long time and thus agree with the ESI’s proposal for Kosovo government to apply for CoE membership now. Citizens of Kosovo deserve full access to Europe’s oldest mechanisms for protection of human rights, including ECHR,” she tweeted.
Her statement was followed by Serbian foreign minister Nikola Selakovic’s warning that Kosovo’s membership in the European organization that defends human rights could result in regional destabilization.
Kosovo has struggled to get membership in a number of international organizations, including UNESCO and Interpol, as its efforts have been blocked by Russia and Serbia’s lobbying.
Russia is a strong supporter of Serbia, which in return is the only country in Europe besides Belarus not to condemn the invasion of Ukraine.
Kosovo has called for accelerated procedures for its EU and NATO membership, fearing that the close ties between Russia and Serbia could embolden the latter to destabilize Kosovo.