German media: Serbia’s “perfect trap” for Kosovo in the Council of Europe

When the proposal for the statute of the Union of Serbian Municipalities is finally on the table, Belgrade obstructs it in every way, writes Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, as reported by Deutsche Welle (DW). The thesis of the journalists of that newspaper is that Serbia is thus preventing the admission of Kosovo to the Council of Europe.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted by a convincing majority in mid-April to accept Kosovo as a member . But the last word is still given by the ministers of foreign affairs of the member states, DW reports from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

The regular annual meeting of ministers is held in mid-May.

“It seems that the support for Kosovo there is not as convincing as in the Parliamentary Assembly,” writes the Frankfurt paper.

“It is heard from several European capitals that before voting on admission, Kosovo must first allow the establishment of a community of Serbian municipalities and enclaves, in order to ensure the rights of the Serbian minority,” says FAZ.

“As we hear, they also share that argument in Berlin, among other things in the Chancellery,” it added.

According to the opinion of the author of the article, journalist Michael Martens , it is as if Serbia was given the “right of veto” even though it does not exist in the Council of Europe.

The text states that the Union of Serbian Municipalities was foreseen in the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina from 2013, but that “nothing” happened for a long time.

On the table is an informal draft of the ZSO Statute

According to Martens, “it was only in 2023 that the Serbian side finally presented the draft statute” which, however, did not meet the criteria of the Council of Europe. Since October of last year, it says, an “informal draft” has been on the table that comes from Brussels and Quinte.

Diplomats now, writes FAZ, demand that Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti forward that draft to the Constitutional Court of Kosovo for verification in order to vote on Kosovo’s admission to the Council of Europe.

The text adds that Kurti, during his visit to Germany last week, tried to explain that the Constitutional Court cannot deal with an informal document.

“It is striking that until now not a single elected representative of the Serbian community in Kosovo has been officially determined according to the plan of the community of municipalities proposed by the Western countries. In the four municipalities in the north of Kosovo, where Serbs make up the majority of the population, there are currently no elected Serb mayors,” the newspaper writes.

Namely, the Serbs boycotted both the elections and the referendum to replace the Albanian mayors, which could have been a prelude to early elections.

As Martens writes, this is also what Kurti tried to emphasize in Berlin – that only municipalities can join the Community of Municipalities and that they should not be allowed to do so from Pristina.

What does Vučić’s “trap” look like for Kosovo

According to the interpretation of the journalist, it is not surprising that there is no incentive from the Serbian side to form the Union as soon as possible. “Because, from the point of view of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who controls and directs Kosovo Serb politicians, this conflict is a perfect trap for Kosovo.”

Martens explains what this “trap” looks like: “Belgrade forbids Serbian politicians from its former province to accept possible initiatives to establish a community of municipalities or to support ideas that are consistent with the standards of the Council of Europe, but at the same time loudly complains that there is no Community.”

“That’s how they nurtured the golden hen of Serbian diplomacy in Belgrade in order to prevent the western integration of Kosovo,” writes FAZ. “With the left hand, conditions are set for Kosovo, and with the right hand, it is ensured that these conditions can never be fulfilled.”

The Germans devised a “way out of the Serbian trap”
It is added that Kurti spoke with German Foreign Minister Analena Berbock in Berlin , but nothing is known about the content of the conversation. Kurti also met with other politicians.

FAZ as the “motor” of Kosovo’s admission to the Council of Europe represents Social Democrat Frank Schwabe, leader of the delegation of Social Democrats and Greens in the Council of Europe.

According to reports, Schwabe is strongly in favor of member ministers not torpedoing what the parliamentarians of the Council of Europe have voted for. As one of the possible ways out, it is mentioned that the western draft of the statute of the Union of Serbian Municipalities should be sent to the “extraordinary constitutional lawyers” of the Council of Europe, instead of to the Kosovo Constitutional Court.

“It could be a way out of the Serbian trap, say the Social Democrat politicians in Berlin,” concludes Martens in an article for FAZ.

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