Escobar's statement about Kosovo's membership in the Council of Europe is considered undiplomatic

gabriel escobar

gabriel escobar

Photo: Alban Bujari

The two new conditions presented by the American emissary, Gabriel Escobar, for Kosovo's membership in the Council of Europe have been assessed as incomprehensible and undiplomatic by German state officials and by those familiar with political developments in the country. And the opposition assessed that it is the recent actions of the Government that had an impact on the inclusion as conditions of the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority and some expropriations in the north

After the implementation of the decision of the Constitutional Court on the property of the Monastery of Deçan, as a condition for membership in the Council of Europe (CoE), two more conditions were imposed on Kosovo, which were not presented by Europe, but by the United States (USA).

In an interview for REL, the US emissary for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, said a day ago that for membership in the Council of Europe, Kosovo must fulfill two other conditions: Take action on the expropriations in the north that have been opposed by the Serbs local, and also establish the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority.

However, high officials of the German state have asked the American emissary not to mention conditions on behalf of the Council of Europe.

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, Michael Roth, asked the US to stop its unbalanced approach to Kosovo.

"It is completely meaningless that the USA puts additional conditions for Kosovo's membership in the Council of Europe. This unbalanced approach of the USA towards Kosovo must be finally stopped. It's unfair. The Council of Europe and its member states are in the driver's seat - not the USA," he said on Saturday.

Likewise, a day ago, other German MPs also reacted to Escobar, emphasizing that Europe decides on Kosovo's application for membership, based on its own rules.

The expert on political issues, Basri Muja, calls Escobar's statement undiplomatic, which he made on the last day of his visit to Kosovo. He gives a reason why the terms may have been introduced by him.

"Even politicians in the EU and those in the US know that the positions of US officials are valued and respected more in Kosovo. Maybe this was the reason why Mr. Escobar presented the positions of the EU in a rather undiplomatic way, as if they were the positions of the USA", Muja said.

The new conditions, which include the establishment of the Association, have also been commented on by the opposition in Kosovo.

The deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs, Xhavit Haliti, who is a deputy of the largest political entity in the opposition, the Democratic Party, said that the conditions were set due to the recent actions of the Government.

"I think that the Association should be made for Kosovo, not for the Council of Europe, because it is made for the citizens of Kosovo. Standing with strong nationalist policies has damaged Kosovo and has influenced new conditions to be set for this issue. We must follow the line of the USA and the European Union, which I think and believe do not have bad intentions towards Kosovo, as they do not have bad intentions towards Serbia either. The problems must be solved bilaterally and the pressure after the approval of the issues that are Kosovo's obligation will begin to fall on Serbia", said Haliti.

Regarding the establishment of the Association in exchange for membership in the Council of Europe, the deputy of the Democratic League, Besian Mustafa, has said that Prime Minister Albin Kurti himself has turned the formation of this mechanism into an international obligation, with the signing of the Ohrid agreement.

"I estimate that the Ohrid agreement goes beyond the initial agreement of the Association and has extreme elements of autonomy regarding these municipalities. Mr. Kurti and this Government have accepted this agreement, turning it into an international obligation for the Republic of Kosovo. So, these obligations have now been transformed into obligations of Kosovo, international obligations", he said.

However, Professor Muja says that the imposed conditions are unfair. He adds that the Government must be vigilant and that it must not make mistakes that could repeat the situation with the Demarcation agreement with Montenegro, with the ratification of which the lifting of visas was promised.

"I think that this is a bad practice, a wrong practice, where constantly, when Kosovo is able or manages to fulfill a request, I say theirs, they then come up with other requests. I hope that the fate of the demarcation agreement with Montenegro will not repeat itself", said Muja.

Regarding the conditions presented by emissary Escobar, the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have not responded.

On the very day when Escobar started his visit to Kosovo, Prime Minister Kurti ordered the Cadastral Agency to implement the decision of the Constitutional Court for the properties of the Monastery of Deçan. The Prime Minister said that the Government of Kosovo was faced with two options: To fulfill this condition and for Kosovo to be accepted in the Council of Europe or to remain without membership.

And, Escobar welcomed the decision, but then emphasized that "now, there are two more conditions that the Council of Europe had mentioned and that some European countries are asking for. One is... [concerning] some actions on the expropriations that are taking place in the north. And the other is the Association".

Asked if the US will lobby for Kosovo for this membership, he said: "I think we are evaluating all options. We still need the Association [of municipalities with a Serbian majority]. He is key".