A general view for Members of the Parliament as they attend the inaugural session of the National Assembly in Podgorica, Montenegro, 23 September 2020. EPA-EFE/BORIS PEJOVIC

Montenegro Fails to Shed Clarity on Kosovo’s CoE Membership

After Montenegro’s delegate voted against accepting Kosovo into the Council of Europe, the coalition government said that ‘one MP’s position’ was ‘not the official policy of the government’.

The government of Montenegro sees Kosovo as an independent country and a reliable partner, Deputy Prime Minister Nik Gjeloshaj said, commenting on the vote of the representative of Montenegro, who opposed Kosovo’s membership of the Council of Europe at the Committee for Political Affairs of the Council of Europe on Wednesday.

The Committee on Wednesday nevertheless supported Kosovo’s request to become a member of the organisation.

Montenegrin representative Maja Vukicevic, an MP for the pro-Serbian Democratic People’s Party, which is part of the ruling coalition, voted against Kosovo’s membership, against the official policy of the country.

According to the coalition agreement signed on the eve of the formation of the government led by the leader of the Europe Now Movement, Milojko Spajic, the coalition would respect all previous international obligations, including on the independence of Kosovo.

Gjeloshaj did not clearly answer whether Vukicevic’s vote had violated that agreement.

“The position of one MP does not mean that it is the official policy of the government of Montenegro. The government will give its official position on Kosovo’s membership when it is voted on in the CoE Council of Ministers. That is the position of the government and the state. The rest are the views of the MPs who have the right to do so,” Gjeloshaj said in response to a BIRN question.

He claimed the government’s position on Kosovo’s independence is clear. “Kosovo is independent and as such, our reliable partner. This is how it will be in our European integration. We have diplomatic relations with Kosovo and very soon we will have an ambassador in Kosovo, so this government does not have any dilemma – good neighborly relations with everyone, all the countries that we have recognised,” Gjeloshaj explained.

Additionally asked if Montenegro will support Kosovo’s membership when it is voted on at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Gjloshaj said the government is a collective body.

“The government should declare that it authorizes someone to vote on its behalf. I will stop there, but knowing the position and commitment of the government in the process of European integration, the public can be approximately clear as to how we will decide,” Gjeloshaj said.

Vukicevic meanwhile said she got support for her vote from, she told the Belgrade tabloid Alo, the citizens of Montenegro, stating that the Council of Europe is an alliance of states, and there is no consensus on the international stage as to whether Kosovo is a state.

Vukicevic’s vote was condemned by some opposition parties. The Democratic Party of Socialists, which was in power for 30 years until 2020, said Spajić was being blackmailed by the pro-Serbian parties in the coalition and claimed state policy had formally become anti-European.

The opposition Social Democrats said the vote on Kosovo’s membership in the Council of Europe showed the coalition agreement is a “dead letter”.

On the other hand, Minister of Public Administration Marash Dukaj, from Gjeloshaj’s Albanian Alternative, welcomed the decision of the Committee of the CoE.

He stated that the government should review the practice of putting the views of individuals in a place that belongs to the state of Montenegro.

28/03/2024 - 18:43

28 March 2024 - 18:43

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