Press release analysis: Serbian delegations’ half-true claims about the NATO PA vote on Kosovo

anđela Milivojevic

By Andjela Milivojević

The Serbian delegation within the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) has issued statements criticizing the recent vote to advance Kosovo’s status associate member. However, an analysis of the statements shows that certain claims made by the Serbian delegation are false and appear to be an attempt to mislead the public regarding who is responsible for the outcome of the vote and Serbia’s failure to prevent Kosovo from becoming an associate member.

The delegation of Serbia in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly consists of deputies from all four parliamentary parties, however, in Sofia last weekend, Serbia was represented solely by SNS deputies: Goran Rakić, former head of Srpska Lista, mayor, minister and deputy prime minister of the „Government of the Republic of Kosovo“, as well as Nataša Jovanović, a former member of the Radicals and Zoran Dragišić.

After the NATO PA session, the delegation issued a statement in which it tried to highlight procedural errors that are supposed to create the impression among citizens that the decision was not made completely in accordance with the rules, and that there was an intention for Serbia’s voice not to be heard during the session.

This seems to be a way to divert attention from the question – why Serbia failed to prevent a positive outcome of the vote with talks about a „bad“ procedure.

The first claim of the Serbian delegation after the meeting of the NATO PA in Sofia from May 25 to May 27 reads that the delegation „was not consulted during the process of making this decision„.

This statement is not entirely true, because the NATO PA Standing Committee does not have to consult associate members like Serbia on issues related to the status of other associate members.

In addition, the NATO PA Standing Committee decided to advance the Kosovo Assembly from a parliamentary observer to an associate member in March this year, on the anniversary of the beginning of the bombing of the FR Yugoslavia.

The Serbian delegation also announced that its representatives „were not given the opportunity to speak before the vote on granting the status of an associate member of the so-called ‘Assembly of Kosovo’ nor after the confirmation of this decision.“

However, NATO PA rules only allow associate delegations like Serbia to „speak and propose text and amendments“ – they do not give the right to speak or comment immediately before or after the vote.

Neither Malta nor Kosovo, which received associate member status, had the opportunity to address the assembly.

The recording of the entire session, which is publicly available, shows that the vote to advance the status of Kosovo and Malta to associate members followed the protocols specified in the agenda of the assembly.

As an associate member, Serbia also has no right to vote on such matters, which is information that the Serbian delegation did not clearly specify in their statement.

The statement also failed to even mention that Goran Rakić, as a representative of the Serbian delegation, gave a three-minute speech on the first day of the NATO PA session, on May 25, when the security challenges of the Western Balkans were discussed.

Rakić himself shared a video of that speech with his followers on Facebook. In his speech, Rakić spoke about the poor situation among Kosovo Serbs and the security problems they face.

The statement of the Serbian delegation did not even mention that a day before the vote, a meeting was held with the French and Romanian delegations where they had the opportunity to present their views. At that meeting, Serbia appealed to the representatives of the two countries not to support the advancement of Kosovo’s status, warning of dangerous consequences for the Serbs.

While Romania underlined it would not vote against Serbia’s position, France did not give any guarantees.

Bearing in mind that all this information was omitted from the statement, citizens are led to believe that the Serbian delegation did not have a single opportunity to express their views and that this right was denied contrary to the rules.

The next assertion of the Serbian delegation concerns the issue of consensus.

Although 14 countries abstained from supporting Kosovo, including France and Italy, the Serbian delegation portrayed it as a lack of consensus: „The results of the vote show that there was no consensus within the NATO Parliamentary Assembly,“ although this did not affect the final outcome of the vote.

A sentence formulated in this way can lead to a misunderstanding among citizens of what exactly happened and how the decision was adopted if there was no consensus.

Although politically there was no consensus, in the procedural sense the voting was in accordance with the rules because the NATO PA decision-making process requires only a majority and not the consensus of all members in order for a decision to be adopted.

In a political sense, there was clearly no universal support for Kosovo by NATO PA members, unlike for Malta, which was unanimously granted associate member status at the same session.

By this selective presentation of information and by making misleading claims that it was not consulted or allowed to speak, the Serbian delegation appears to be trying to manipulate public opinion and portray the voting process as illegitimate.

The media additionally contributed to this, which transmitted the statement of the delegation without checking whether the claims made in it are correct, which is a consequence of ignorance of the rules and procedures within the NATO PA.

Some of the headlines:
ALO: TWO NATO POWERS REJECTED PRISTINA. The decision of the PA was made WITHOUT CONSENSUS – the Serbian delegation was denied the floor
Novosti: NEITHER FRANCE NOR ITALY SUPPORTED PRISTINA: PA NATO made a decision without consensus – the Serbian delegation was denied the floor
Sputnik: A dangerous precedent! PA NATO made a decision without consensus: the Serbian delegation was denied the floor before the vote

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