Kosovo has taken the first step 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.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic also confirmed that Kosovo had applied for membership. Addressing the public three times in less than 12 hours, Vucic first announced this as a possibility last night from Brussels, then revealed that Kosovo will apply for membership, and finally, he confirmed this morning that it has already happened.
Kosovo’s possible application for membership was discussed in Berlin last week, during a joint address by Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Chancellor Olaf Scholz. On the same day, the Serbian President also met with Scholz. After the meeting, when asked whether Serbia will withdraw from the Council of Europe if Kosovo becomes a member, Vucic said that Serbia cannot „shoot itself in the foot“. Vucic also underlined that it will be decided in the parliament.
Moreover, he once again repeated an old promise that if Pristina officially sends a membership request, Serbia will intensify its efforts on obtaining withdrawals of Kosovo’s recognition.
In order for Kosovo to join the Council of Europe, it will require 2/3 of the support of the member states. There are currently 46 member states in this body, including Serbia.
The Russian Federation, however, was recently expelled from the Council of Europe, thus further boosting Pristina’s intentions to apply for membership.
Recently, the political advisor of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, Jeton Zulfaj, announced that Pristina managed to secure 2/3 of those votes.
The conditions and procedure for accession to the Council of Europe are regulated by Article 4 of the Statute of the Council of Europe:
Any European State which is deemed to be able and willing to fulfill the provisions of Article 3 may be invited to become a member of the Council of Europe by the Committee of Ministers. Any State so invited shall become a member on the deposit on its behalf with the Secretary General of an instrument of accession to the present Statute.
Pristina’s formal request – once it is applied – for admission to the Council of Europe will be decided by the Committee of Ministers of this body, whose job is to examine the requests, i.e. whether they fulfill a number of criteria in the field of democracy, rule of law and human rights. The decision is then made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The admission procedure into the Council of Europe is long and arduous. It takes at least a year to complete the procedure in the Parliamentary Assembly of this body within which it is necessary to appoint rapporteurs in the three Committees whose job it is to prepare reports to be adopted by the Committees, after which these reports are consolidated. The decision is then made during a plenary session when 2/3 support is requested.
Pristina started making more serious preparations for admission to this organization in 2015 in order to apply in 2017, which did not happen at the time. At that point, Serbia also had active diplomacy, including the activities within the Council of Europe, to prevent that from happening.
Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Pristina officials have been actively lobbying for Kosovo’s membership in international organizations, primarily for membership in NATO, the EU and the Council of Europe.
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