French embassy in PR: Kosovo has the sovereign right to apply for membership in the CoE

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Foto: Francuska ambasada

„The decision to apply to the Council of Europe belongs to Kosovo as a sovereign state. It is Kosovo’s future to become a member,” the French embassy in Pristina reacted tonight after the French ambassador to Belgrade said earlier today that it was a unilateral decision, as well as that France does not support such unilateral decisions.

On Thursday, Pristina took the first step in applying for membership in the Council of Europe.

The German ambassador to Pristina, Jorn Rohde, welcomed this decision of the Kosovan government. Rohde congratulated Kosovo on its application, saying that it belongs in the Council of Europe.

The decision was also hailed tonight by the French Embassy in Kosovo.

„The decision to apply to the Council of Europe belongs to Kosovo as a sovereign state. It is Kosovo’s future to become a member,“ the embassy said.

They underlined, however, that the current priority is the continuation of Brussels-led dialogue which, according to the embassy, will contribute to the „European rapprochement“ of Kosovo and Serbia and the long-term stabilization in the Balkans.

„We call on both sides to fully engage themselves in this regard and refrain from any unilateral actions that could fuel tensions,“ they said.

Earlier today, the French Ambassador to Serbia, Pierre Cochard, also called on both sides to refrain from any “unilateral moves.”

While addressing Pristina’s Council of Europe application, unlike the French embassy in Pristina, Cochard says that it is a unilateral decision, but one that his country does not support.

„We do not support unilateral decisions. In that context, we believe that the priority is the dialogue on topics – the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities in Kosovo, energy issues, issues of missing persons – that is the priority.“

The ambassador revealed that France is not the only country with the stance that unilateral moves should be avoided in the current situation.

„There is no support from France for it. We can understand Kosovo’s aspirations to join European institutions, and we welcome the fact that they have aligned themselves with European positions when it comes to Ukraine. However, we believe that these moves do not make things easier and can increase tensions. The priority is the dialogue currently being conducted by the European Union,“ the ambassador stated, reiterating that the dialogue takes priority.

Pristina took the first step yesterday in applying for membership in the Council of Europe. The decision was made during an online meeting of the Pristina government. The decision adopted today obliges the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora to conduct all membership procedures based on the legislation in force. This decision approved in principle the initiative for Kosovo’s membership in this international organization. Soon after, Kosovo submitted a membership application.

Top Kosovo officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister and the President of Kosovo, soon reacted, alleging that Kosovo „deserves“ to become a member of the CoE.

The President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, who is currently on an official visit to Lithuania, urged the representatives of this country to support Kosovo in the application process.

Official Belgrade, on the other hand, criticized Pristina’s move.

„It is a violation of all, not only principles, international public law, but also directly norms from certain agreements, from Resolution 1244 to the Washington Agreement,“ reads the reaction of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.

Serbia’s National Security Council held a session today concerning Pristina’s application.

The Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Selakovic, said that Pristina violated the Washington Agreement, prompting Belgrade to continue with its campaign of obtaining withdrawals of Kosovo’s recognition.

Selakovic claimed that four countries had withdrawn the recognition of Kosovo and that he forwarded diplomatic notes to the President of Serbia.

The Serbian MFA did not reveal the names of the countries in question, saying that the Serbian president would decide on whether he will disclose this information.

In the meantime, Selakovic’s Kosovan counterpart, Donika Gervalla, said they had not received any information about the withdrawals.

„The fact that they are talking about it only a few hours after Kosovo applied for membership in the Council of Europe speaks of two things: that they worked on it for a long time, unlike what they said publicly, or that it is untrue,“ Gervalla emphasized.

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