Antonijevic: The Venice Commission can give the Serbs in Kosovo a greater degree of autonomy

Milan Antonijević
Source: Kosovo Online

The Venice Commission can offer constructive comments on the Draft of the CSM, and Serbia would gain a guarantee through the commission's assessment that the minority and human rights of Serbs in Kosovo would be protected by the Council of Europe, lawyer Milan Antonijevic says, adding that with the Venice Commission's assessment, which deals with the protection of minority and human rights, a higher degree of autonomy for Serbs in Kosovo could be expected.

Regarding the proposal by Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla to send the draft CSM to the Venice Commission, Antonijevic notes that only member states of the Council of Europe and the EU can submit such a draft to the commission.

"First, I pose a legal and formal question: Who can submit this document to the Venice Commission? The member states of the Council of Europe, followed by the EU. Therefore, if European negotiators deem it necessary for the Venice Commission to review this document, they can do so, and I assume Serbia can also do this, thus starting the procedure," Antonijevic stated to Kosovo Online.

Antonijevic assessed that the Venice Commission could be a good body for consultation on the CSM, providing everyone with a neutral arbiter.

"Due to the accumulated knowledge within the Council of Europe specifically about minority rights, autonomy, and all the issues that concern us all, the Venice Commission is a good body. It can be consulted, as we did with our Constitution a few years ago when we followed their recommendations and received constructive feedback on what we submitted as a country. A similar situation can happen with the CSM Statute, where we receive constructive comments and have a neutral arbiter. It is very difficult to sit in Belgrade and write a Statute or anywhere in the region and have the objectivity protection that the Venice Commission has," Antonijevic adds.

He emphasizes that the Venice Commission is a body that can quickly react on the issue of the CSM, providing Serbia with guarantees that the minority and human rights of Serbs in Kosovo will be protected by the Council of Europe.

He adds that Kurti probably made this proposal to get closer to the Council of Europe's institutions and due to the attention of the domestic public. However, on the international level, only Serbia or the EU, as those who have clear relations with the Council of Europe, can count on their help.

He believes that the Venice Commission's opinion on the Draft Statute of the CSM can be thorough and that, based on it, a functional statute can be created, modifying provisions that are considered not to guarantee a sufficient level of autonomy or minority protection.

"We are talking about an institution that deals precisely with the protection of minority and human rights, so what we can expect in the recommendations of the Venice Commission is not a reduction of minority rights but rather an increase in the level of autonomy and protection of minority rights by providing mechanisms that can be sustainable in the long term," Antonijevic adds.

He stresses that due to the position of Serbs in Kosovo, concrete agreements must be reached as soon as possible, and Pristina must face the fact that it needs to provide a level of autonomy to the Serbian community in Kosovo.

"We are talking about a very small part of Kosovo's territory and a small number of people who, despite all the challenges and incidents, have decided to live in Kosovo and for whom all this needs to be done. I think that the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe, the EU, and our country understand this, and that is precisely why concrete agreements need to be reached as soon as possible. We need to have the Statute on the table, and the authorities in Pristina must face the fact that they need to provide a serious level of autonomy to the Serbs in Kosovo," Antonijevic concludes.