Kosovo Moves Closer to Council of Europe Membership After PACE Vote

The Council of Europe voted to recommend Kosovo's accession, a significant milestone in its international integration, despite Serbia's strong opposition. This pivotal step brings Kosovo closer to joining Europe's leading human rights body.

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Kosovo Moves Closer to Council of Europe Membership After PACE Vote

Kosovo Moves Closer to Council of Europe Membership After PACE Vote

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted on Tuesday to recommend Kosovo's accession to the Council of Europe, marking a significant milestone in Kosovo's international integration since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008. The vote, which saw 131 deputies in favor, 29 against, and 11 abstentions, effectively forwards the decision on accession to the Committee of Ministers, the final hurdle for Kosovo's membership bid.

The report recommending Kosovo's accession was drafted by Greek rapporteur Dora Bakoyannis, who argued that Kosovo's membership would strengthen human rights standards by ensuring access to the European Court of Human Rights for all those under Kosovo's jurisdiction. During the debate, the representative of Kosovo's Parliament, Enis Kervan, urged PACE members to vote in favor, stating that Kosovo's membership would be "a tangible step towards ensuring access to justice for all our citizens."

However, Serbia's delegation, led by Biljana Pantić Pilja, strongly opposed the report, arguing that Kosovo's membership should be conditional on the establishment of the Community of Serb Majority Municipalities. Pantić Pilja criticized the report for not addressing the lack of progress on this issue, which she said is necessary for protecting minority rights. Serbia has warned that it may quit the Council of Europe if Kosovo becomes a member.

Why this matters: Kosovo's potential membership in the Council of Europe represents a significant step in its efforts to gain international recognition and integrate into European institutions. The Council of Europe is the continent's leading human rights body, and membership would provide Kosovo's citizens with access to the European Court of Human Rights.

Despite Serbia's opposition, Kosovo's chances of joining the Council of Europe have improved due to recent developments, such as the government's resolution of a land dispute with a Serbian Orthodox monastery. The vote in the Parliamentary Assembly is a pivotal step forward, but the final decision on Kosovo's accession now lies with the Committee of Ministers, which is expected to make its determination in May when the Council of Europe marks its 75th anniversary.

Key Takeaways

  • PACE voted to recommend Kosovo's accession to Council of Europe.
  • Kosovo's membership would grant access to European Court of Human Rights.
  • Serbia strongly opposed the report, citing lack of progress on Serb municipalities.
  • Kosovo's chances improved due to recent land dispute resolution with Serbian monastery.
  • Final decision on Kosovo's accession lies with the Committee of Ministers in May.