PACE’s decision on Kosovo, a historic defeat for Serbia

On April 16, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) recommended initiating Kosovo’s accession to the organization. Now there are virtually no political obstacles to this decision.

Even the Serbs publicly admit that they have lost this battle and predict an official invitation to Kosovo to join the Council of Europe in less than a month.

Although Belgrade lost the diplomatic battle, this decision will have enormous consequences. The decision showed European “recognition” of Kosovo.

April 16 will be the day of political defeat in Belgrade, which the Serbian government has successfully delayed for many years, but the last two years have brought these efforts to naught.

In its statutory Opinion, based on a report by Dora Bakoyannis, and passed by 131 votes in favour and 29 against with 11 abstentions, the Assembly said membership would lead to “the strengthening of human rights standards by ensuring access to the European Court of Human Rights for all those who are under Kosovo’s jurisdiction”.

PACE statement on Kosovo invitation

For Serbs, partially recognized Kosovo has a symbolic and historical significance, as Serbian Orthodoxy was born here, in monasteries on Kosovo’s territory.

A number of countries, including some EU member states, still do not recognize Kosovo’s independence: Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, and Slovakia; there are 12 such states in the Council of Europe. This is primarily because they themselves have issues with territories where separatist sentiments exist.

For this reason, international organizations specifically denied access to Kosovo. The process moved forward after Russia began its full-scale war against Ukraine in February 2022. 

Following the expulsion of the Russians from the Council of Europe, Kosovo submitted an application to Strasbourg, marking the beginning of the process. Serbia, which had always relied on Russian support, found itself in a difficult situation.

For Kosovo, joining the Council of Europe is primarily about recognition. Moreover, the adopted document also directly states that the status of Kosovo is changing!

After all, the PACE decision emphasizes that the Council of Europe must “cease its status-neutral policy,” that is, recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty, as soon as it receives an invitation.

However, the PACE cannot oblige European capitals to take any legal action in international relations, let alone recognize Kosovo’s independence. But it will also be difficult to ignore this change because, within the Council of Europe, Serbia will now have to communicate with Kosovo at an official, diplomatic level.

On April 16 in Strasbourg, Serbian MPs promised a response to the decision. Earlier, Serbian officials threatened to withdraw from the organization.

Clarity will emerge after the meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on May 16–17 in Strasbourg, which is to make the final decision. At this meeting, the Serbs will have to make up their minds.

Today we know Serbia as a pro-Russian state in the center of the Balkan Peninsula, but in the last century it was the center of Yugoslavia, a regional state created at the end of World War I to unite the southern Slavic peoples. 

During Slobodan Milosevic’s reign, their union underwent several transformations and lasted until the 1990s, when bloody wars broke out between Serbs and representatives of other peoples of the former Yugoslavia.

After ethnic cleansing and genocide accompanied the fighting, Belgrade gradually lost control of all regions that had the status of republics; these regions became independent states, and the Serbian government eventually recognized this separation.

After an ethnic conflict and NATO intervention, Kosovo also broke away and later declared independence. However, this territory, although inhabited mainly by Albanians, did not have the status of a separate republic and was documented as an “autonomous region” of Serbia, so Belgrade has not yet recognized its loss.

The UN Court of Justice’s decision, which confirmed the province’s right to independence on the grounds that Kosovars would not be able to live with them in the same state after ethnic cleansing by the Serbian army, did not change the position of the Serbian authorities.

Read all articles by Insight News Media on Google News, subscribe and follow.
Scroll to Top