CoE Assembly begins discussion of situation in Kosovo

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, PACE, has begun its discussion of a draft report on Kosovo that points to poor respect for the rule of law as one of the main problems facing Kosovo.

The report, which was prepared by the CoE rapporteur for the political affairs committee, Bjorn Von Sydow, also stresses that the focus of the Council of Europe in Kosovo should be on standards, rather than status.

Many issues are tackled in Sydow’s report, which will be discussed and voted on today in Strasbourg, ranging from the rule of law and police to displaced people, property rights, and media.

The assembly, the report notes, should call on the EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX, the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, and Kosovo’s government to take concrete action to address the poor respect for the rule of law in Kosovo, which “affects the everyday lives of all persons in Kosovo, irrespective of the community they belong to, undermines their trust in the political system and the prospects of economic development”.

Actions recommended involve taking public stances to condemn corruption including in the political system and introducing without further delay comprehensive legislation on procurement which addresses the present legal and practical weaknesses.

The assembly also encourages the European Union to continue its policy of diversity on status and unity on engagement. 33 out of 47 member states in the Council of Europe have recognised Kosovo.

The EU is asked to strengthen its EULEX mission by improving its public image in Kosovo through a more developed and inclusive communication policy, and reinforcing its presence and role in the north of Kosovo.

The resolution also calls on the authorities in Pristina and Belgrade to find a “constructive and pragmatic attitude” in order to solve practical problems affecting Kosovo Serbs and other minority communities in or from Kosovo, including issues surrounding identity documents, energy supply, property rights, and dialogue and reconciliation between groups.

Kosovo government spokesperson Memli Krasniqi told Balkan Insight that PACE is a respected institution and has drafted a well-meaning resolution on Kosovo.

“As for the priorities set out in this resolution, the majority of them are already a priority for Kosovo’s government,” Krasniqi said. “These are the main areas that the government and many of its institutions are working on, such as fighting corruption, improving rule of law and particularly reforms in procurement legislation.”

On Monday Croatian President Ivo Josipovic addressed the assembly for the first time in his new post, and outlined the progress his country has made in protecting and promoting human rights and fighting organised crime and corruption. Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic will address the assembly today, while Macedonian President Gjorgje Ivanov is set to speak before the assembly on June 24.

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