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News 23 Jan 13

Council of Europe Urges Kosovo to Improve Rule of Law

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution calling on Kosovo to fight corruption, push through judicial reforms and address war crimes issues.

Edona Peci
Pristina

The resolution called on the authorities in Pristina “to ensure co-operation with the relevant [EU rule of law mission] bodies exercising executive law enforcement functions in Kosovo, including its war crimes and organised crime investigation units, as well as with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia”.

Albania MPs Miss Key Kosovo Date at CoE

All five Albanian members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe failed to attend the session where the resolution on Kosovo was adopted on Tuesday.

Both ruling coalition and opposition MPs didn't turn up for the CoE session which called on Kosovo to fight corruption, push through judicial reforms and address war crimes issues.

Reacting to the absence of the ruling coalition deputies in Strasbourg, Socialist Party MP Taulant Balla blamed the speaker of parliament Jozefina Topalli.

“Topalli is responsible for this shameful act by the Albanian parliament,” Balla wrote on his Facebook profile. “The absence of the MPs is her direct responsibility,” he added.

A spokesperson for Topalli could not be reached for comment on Wednesday; however, it remains unclear why opposition MPs also missed the CoE vote.

The incident came as both government and opposition parties intensified nationalistic rhetoric over Belgrade’s removal of a controversial memorial to Albanian guerrillas in the south Serbian town of Presevo.

Pristina should “tackle cross-border organised crime and corruption” and “pursue judicial reform to further strengthen the independence, impartiality and transparency of the judiciary”, the resolution said.

The resolution also encouraged the EU to ensure that its policy talks with Kosovo “focus particularly on strengthening the rule of law”.

Brussels has expressed concern in the past about Kosovo's ability to tackle corruption and organised crime.

The resolution stressed the need for more efforts so that the “stand-off” between the Serbs-run north of Kosovo and the Pristina authorities did not turn into a “ frozen conflict”.

Pristina and Belgrade were urged to engage in EU-mediated dialogue “with an open mind and without preconditions”.

Pristina declared independence in 2008 and the EU-mediated talks began in 2011, but Belgrade insists that it will never ever recognise Kosovo.

Thirty-four of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states have recognised Kosovo so far.

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