Jörn Rohde, German Ambassador to Kosovo. Photo: Fatrion Ibrahimi/BIRN

German Ambassador Urges Kosovo to Uphold Rule of Law for European Council Accession

The Ambassador of Germany to Kosovo has called for the Kosovo Government to respect its own courts’ decisions in order to progress towards accession to the Council of Europe.

The German Ambassador to Kosovo, Jorn Rohde, said that Kosovo’s membership in the Council of Europe was being hindered by the non-implementation of the Constitutional Court’s decision regarding the property of the Decani Monastery.

Rohde, in an interview with Kallxo Përnime Show on March 10, criticised the government of Kosovo for making hasty decisions without prior consultation and a pre-campaign for citizens affected.

“If you have a final judgement from your court and do not implement it, it does not leave a good impression. We share Kosovo’s goal of becoming a member of the Council of Europe as soon as possible,” Rohde said. 

According to him, Germany’s position is that the “non-implementation of the decision of the highest court is a violation of the rule of law.”

“The time has come for you to have a situation where all parties, Prishtina, Decan, and Strasbourg, will be winners, do it now, and then you can get a considerable number of votes to become a member of the Council”, he elaborated.

Since 2009, Visoki Decani, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has claimed ownership of some 24 hectares of land that it says was confiscated by Yugoslav-era communist authorities. Kosovo’s Constitutional Court ruled in its favour in 2016 – but the municipality has refused to return the land.

Disputed Euro-only Rule

Asked about the strong criticism the Kosovo government received regarding the Kosovo Central Bank decision to impose the euro-only rule, leading to the removal of the Serbian dinar currency as a form of payment, Rohde said that it was a rushed  decision without any prior campaign, and that it caused drama.

“We agree that Kosovo, as a sovereign state, should exercise sovereignty over the entire territory, including monetary decisions. The only thing we have criticised harshly is the way you do it, without a transition period, informing the public, that’s it”, Rohde explained.

He also mentioned that the German embassy was informed only two weeks in advance about the Kosovo Central Bank decision.

“I will quote my US colleague (ambassador Jeffrey Hovenier); when he had to speak of a degraded partnership, I would be worried. Now we have crisis meetings one after another, and instead of talking about the (March 2023) Ohrid (Implementation Annex) and (February 2023) Brussels (normalisation of relations) agreements, we talk again about flashpoints,” Rohde emphasised.

On February 27, representatives of Kosovo and Serbia, Kosovo’s Central Bank Governor Ahmet Ismajli and the chief negotiator of Serbia, Petar Petkovic, met in Brussels regarding the decision of the Central Bank of Kosovo on the dinar currency, but there was no result. The envoy of the European Union for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, stated that many political questions still remain unanswered.

Kosovo’s Central Bank Governor, Ahmet Ismaili,  in an interview for “Kallxo Përnime” show on February 4, 2024, had declared that the Euro-only policy does not prohibit Kosovo Serbs from keeping and receiving dinars, but regulates their import and conversion, fighting illicit money flows from Serbia. 

The regulation on cash operations entered into force on February 1, despite international calls for a postponement. The effort aims to fight counterfeit money and simultaneously enforces a euro-only policy, thus banning transactions in Serbiandinars, which are still used daily by Kosovo Serbs, especially in the Serb-majority north.

As Serbia does not recognise the statehood of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, Serbian commercial banks and other financial institutions handle domestic transactions to Kosovo.

Kosovo is attempting to sidestep an unlikely interstate agreement with Serbia on implementation of the regulation. 

and 12/03/2024 - 14:59

12 March 2024 - 14:59

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.