The Committee on Foreign Affairs and Democracy of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE) elected Peter Beyer from Germany as its new rapporteur for Kosovo yesterday. Beyer, a close associate and party colleague of Chancellor Merkel, won the race against Russian candidate Aleksei Kondratiev.
The Council of Europe has had rapporteurs for Kosovo since 1991, but the most recent election of rapporteurs caught the attention of the Kosovo public because of the Russian counter-candidate.
While referring to the news published by the German tabloid Bild, numerous Kosovo media reported that a scandal was being prepared in the Council of Europe over the possibility of appointing a special rapporteur who was allegedly a Russian spy.
„Kondratiev has been a member of the Russian Military Intelligence Service (GRU) since 2010. From 1999 to 2001, he was deployed to Kosovo as part of the Russian military. He never hid his anti-Kosovo and pro-Serbian views,“ the German tabloid wrote.
This information provoked reactions from Kosovo officials and CSO representatives.
“I have expressed my deep concern to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly for the candidature of Alexei Kondratiev as Rapporteur for Kosovo. He is a national security threat to Kosovo and we won’t accept his potential appointment and neither cooperate with him. The Council of Europe should think twice before taking such a step,” Kosovo Foreign Minister, Behgjet Pacolli tweeted.
The head of Kosovo’s mission to the Council of Europe and deputy Prime Minister, Mimoza Ahmetaj also expressed concern about Kondratev’s potential appointment.
An open letter against Kondratiev’s appointment – also signed by 49 Kosovo NGOs – states that Kondratiev was accused of trying to kidnap a woman in Kosovo in 2001 and that he evaded justice by fleeing to Russia.
„The Council of Europe Rapporteurs for Kosovo should lead by example. The rapporteur is someone who should talk about the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, as well as produce credible reports that will inform Council of Europe members about Kosovo“ – reads the letter written by CSOs.
Possibly the most famous Council of Europe special rapporteur for Kosovo was Dick Marty from Switzerland. In 2011, Marty wrote a report on the inhumane treatment of people and the trafficking of human organs, based on which Kosovo’s Special Court was established in 2015. The Special Court was established – following great pressure from the international community – to investigate the allegations presented in Marty’s report.
Beyer elected with 33 votes in favor, 6 opposed
Kosovo Foreign Ministry expressed satisfaction yesterday over Beyer’s appointment whom they referred to as „a friend of the Republic of Kosovo“. They added that during the „aggressive debate“ on Kosovo, the Russian delegation requested Mimoza Ahmetaj, Kosovo’s ambassador, to be expelled from the session as Kosovo is not a member of the Council of Europe.
„A 33 to 6 votes in favor of the German diplomat is also an indicator of Russian influence in the Council of Europe – which is minor and negligible when it comes to the European agenda, as most countries recognize Kosovo and support our Euro-Atlantic path,“ the Kosovo Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement, the Pristina-based Gazeta Express reported.
Beyer has visited Kosovo several times over the past year as a member of the German Bundestag delegation. He last visited Kosovo on the eve of the snap parliamentary elections when he conveyed CDU’s (Christian Democratic Union) open support to Kosovo Prime Minister candidate, Vjosa Osmani.
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