Simonovic Bratic: If Kosovo enters the Council of Europe without forming the CSM, our fear is that it will not happen at all

Source: Kosovo Online

Simonovic Bratic, a member of the Serbian Assembly delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), expressed concerns about Kosovo's potential membership in the Council of Europe without fulfilling a key condition: the formation of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities (CSM). This condition was agreed upon in the 2013 Brussels Agreement. "If Kosovo is allowed to become a member without having formed the CSM, of course, we are very concerned that this will not happen at all, and we will insist on this argumentation," she stated to Kosovo Online.

In her explanation, Bratic highlighted that the report by Dora Bakoyannis, which recommends Kosovo's admission to the Council of Europe, initially outlined three prerequisites: the formation of the CSM, a law on expropriation to help Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija protect their property, and the return of land to the Visoki Decani monastery. However, over the past year, these critical issues were largely sidelined in the discussions, focusing instead on the symbolic decision to return land to Visoki Decani, as Bakoyannis, a Greek Orthodox, deemed it the most symbolic.

Bratic explained that every new member of the Council of Europe is under monitoring and noted that Serbia, which joined in 2003, is still being monitored. Hence, being under monitoring does not guarantee the implementation of commitments.

Discussing the operation of PACE, Bratic mentioned it has 612 deputies, with half being active members and the other half substitutes who cannot vote but can participate in debates and be present in party groups. For tomorrow's session, a third of the members present is sufficient for a quorum, and only votes "for" and "against" will be considered, excluding abstentions.

"We rely on those who do not recognize Kosovo's independence," she said, explaining the influence of party groups and national delegations in PACE, which can affect voting behavior. She pointed out the varying stances within PACE, such as a Greek deputy who abstained on a Kosovo issue and a Romanian liberal deputy who fervently supports Kosovo in the Council of Europe. However, she does not expect many deputies to deviate from their national lines in tomorrow's vote.

Bratic expressed disappointment with the change in stance by the Greek delegation, previously abstainers, and now potentially favorable towards Kosovo’s membership. She lamented this as a profound disappointment, particularly poignant given the historical support from Greece during NATO's intervention in Serbia.

The final decision on Kosovo's membership will be made in a forthcoming vote by the Committee of Ministers, where foreign ministers or ambassadors of member states will cast their votes. "When Kosovo submitted its application, 33 out of 46 members voted in favor, which means they had two more countries on their side than needed for the application to pass. Therefore, if we parallel this with the upcoming voting, they likely have a majority in the Committee, but we must fight to the end," Bratic stated.

She concluded by emphasizing the efforts of Serbian representatives to garner support against the report and the broader implications of Kosovo’s potential membership in the Council of Europe, viewing it as a significant geopolitical issue.