Council of Europe Ministers’ Committee Concludes Without Discussing Kosovo’s Membership

Savet Evrope

The 133rd session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) has concluded without addressing the issue of Kosovo’s membership. The annual meeting, attended by foreign ministers from CoE member states, spanned two days and saw participation from 46 ministers.

Despite anticipations and efforts, Kosovo’s application was not included on the agenda. This session was expected to be the final step for Kosovo’s accession to the international organization, following the approval of their membership report by the Political and Finance Committee and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Liechtenstein’s Foreign Minister, who chaired the session, stated, “The acceptance of Kosovo was mentioned multiple times within the national declarations of ministers. We received a letter from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommending Kosovo’s membership and did everything to advance this process under our chairmanship. The Committee of Ministers is currently considering the way forward.”

Ministers’ Reactions on Kosovo’s Membership

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto reiterated his country’s opposition to Kosovo’s membership, emphasizing the need for a successful conclusion of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. French Foreign Minister Jean-Noël Barrot expressed concerns that Kosovo’s membership could cause divisions among CoE members, suggesting that the issue be revisited later after certain conditions are met.

Key Discussions and Decisions at the Session

During the session, ministers reaffirmed their support for Ukraine’s path to justice and recovery. They also adopted the Framework Convention on Artificial Intelligence, marking the first international instrument on this subject. Additionally, a declaration was passed to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Council of Europe.

The next meeting is scheduled for November 13, when Lithuania will hand over the presidency to Luxembourg. The 134th regular session will take place on May 13-14, 2025, in Luxembourg.

Kosovo’s Path to Council of Europe Membership

Kosovo’s journey towards CoE membership has been challenging. After receiving support in the Parliamentary Assembly and fulfilling conditions related to the Visoki Dečani Monastery, European and American officials began urging Pristina to take concrete steps towards establishing the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities (ASM). This was initially a post-accession obligation, but Kosovo was asked to show a tangible effort towards this commitment, such as submitting a draft statute to the Constitutional Court.

Despite months of international pressure, Kosovo’s government hesitated. However, just before the Committee of Ministers’ session, Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz sent a letter to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, committing to send a draft related to the ASM, albeit one prepared by the Kosovo government rather than the EU’s proposal.

Optimism in Pristina Despite Setbacks

Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani expressed optimism, stating that Kosovo will eventually become the 47th member of the Council of Europe. She emphasized Kosovo’s commitment to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, thanking all countries that have supported Kosovo so far.

Gërvalla-Schwarz criticized certain member states for siding with Serbia’s lobbying against Kosovo’s membership, which she claims denies Kosovo’s citizens the rights and opportunities offered by the CoE. She maintained that Kosovo has met all criteria for membership and that today’s decision was merely a postponement, not a halt.

“Membership for Kosovo cannot be stopped, even if delayed due to opposition or Serbian lobbying. We are on the right path and doing a good job. We have left no stone unturned in the interest of Kosovo,” she concluded.

Mijačić: Any advice to Pristina at the expense of existing EU demands won’t lead Kosovo to CoE

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