Osmani: „Kosovo is not a case of secession but of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia“

„Kosovo is not a case of secession, but of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia“, and the International Court of Justice declared that „Kosovo’s independence is in accordance with international law“, Vjosa Osmani, the Kosovan President and a professor of international law – as she herself emphasized, said on Friday in Potsdam near Berlin.

When asked by a participant from Armenia at the conference on democracy and media freedom held in Potsdam, Germany as to what is preventing Kosovo from recognizing Armenians’ right to self-determination, Osmani said that „both Azerbaijan and Armenia should first recognize Kosovo’s independence.“

Emphasizing that she is „putting on her hat of a university professor of international law“, Osmani said:

„Kosovo is not a case of secession, it was a case of the break-up (cf. of former Yugoslavia). And there lies a big difference. Kosovo had a dual status within the former Yugoslavia. It was a constituent unit within Yugoslavia, with exactly the same rights at that time, as the Republics had in the Constitution of Yugoslavia. And under those rights was also the right to self-determination on one’s own status in case Yugoslavia goes through the break-up process“.

Furthermore, she also claims that „the International Court of Justice said that the case of Kosovo cannot be compared with others“, and that Kosovo „is now a case of an act of international law“.

„A comparison cannot be made because the case of Kosovo is not a question of secession, and when it is a question of independence – the International Court of Justice has firmly said that it is in accordance with international law,“ she emphasized again.

Speaking from the aspect of human rights, Osmani claims that the people of Kosovo „show sympathy, solidarity, support to all people around the world who are victims of human rights abuse“.

„We don’t choose territories, we don’t just show solidarity for those who live in this territory, that territory, this country, that country. We show solidarity to anyone who is a victim of human rights abuse because we have felt it on our own skin. We know what it’s like when you don’t have the right to live in your home, when you’re kicked out of your home, when you become a refugee, when you lose everything you have, but most importantly, when you lose the people you love for the simple fact that you’re of different ethnicity from the aggressor,” she said.

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What does the 1974 Constitution of SFRY say?

According to the Constitution of the former SFRY from 1974, Kosovo had the status of an autonomous province within the Republic of Serbia. It foresaw that citizens within a province exercise their sovereign rights when it is in the common interest of the Republic of Serbia as a whole.

Also, according to the same constitution, the territory of the former SFRY consisted of the territories of six republics, which could not be changed without the consent of the republic, and the territory of the autonomous province could not be changed without the consent of the province itself. Also, the frontier of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia could not be changed without the consent of all republics and autonomous provinces.

The first article of the 1974 Constitution mentions the right to self-determination, including the right to secession, which Albanian experts and those who defended the struggle of Albanians for independence from Yugoslavia have referred to in recent decades. Article 1 of this constitution refers to the „Peoples of Yugoslavia“, while Albanians in the former Yugoslavia had the status of a „nationality“.

Article 1
The nations of Yugoslavia, proceeding from the right of every nation to self-determination, including the right to secession, on the basis of their will freely expressed in the common struggle of all nations and nationalities in the National Liberation War and the Socialist Revolution, and in conformity with their historic aspirations, aware that further consolidation of their brotherhood and unity is in the common interest, have, together with the nationalities with which they live, united in a federal republic of free and equal nations and nationalities and founded a socialist federal community of working people — the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in which, in the interest of each nation and nationalities separately and of all of them together, they shall realize and ensure: socialist social relations based on the self-management by working people and the protection of the socialist self-management system, national freedom and independence, the brotherhood and unity of the nations and nationalities, the uniform interests of the working class and the solidarity among workers and all working people, possibilities and freedoms for the all-round development of the human personality and for the rapprochement of the nations and nationalities, in conformity with their interests and aspirations on the road to the creation of an ever richer culture and civilization in a socialist society, the unification and adjustment of efforts to develop the economic foundations of a socialist society and
the prosperity of the people, a system of socio-economic relations and uniform foundations for a political system that will ensure the common interests of the working class and all working people and the equality of nations and nationalities,
the linking of Yugoslavia’s aspirations with the progressive strivings of the mankind.

Article 4
The Socialist Autonomous Provinces are autonomous socialist self-managing democratic socio-political communities based on the power of and self-management by the working class and all working people, in which the working people, nations and nationalities realize their sovereign rights, and when so specified by the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Serbia in the common interests of the working people, nations and nationalities of that Republic as a whole, they do so also within the Republic.

Article 5
The territory of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is a single unified whole and consists of the territories of the Socialist Republics.

The territory of the Republic may not be altered without the consent of that Republic, and the territory of an Autonomous province – without the consent of that Autonomous Province.

The frontiers of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia may not be altered without the consent of all Republics and Autonomous Provinces.

Boundaries between the Republics may only be altered on the basis of mutual agreement, and if the boundary of an Autonomous province is involved – also on the basis of the latter’s agreement.

What did the International Court of Justice say in 2010?

The International Court of Justice issued an Advisory Opinion on the Declaration of Independence of Kosovo on July 22, 2010.

When asked by Serbia, „Is the unilateral declaration on the independence of the provisional institutions of self-government in Kosovo in accordance with international law?“, the then president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague announced: „The declaration of independence of February 17, 2008, did not violate general international law.“

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