Constitutional Court says planned changes to the constitution, ending Kosovo's 'internationally supervised' independence, will not undermine basic rights and freedoms.
Kosovo’s Constitutional Court has given the green light to plans to scrap 21 amendments from the constitution and end Kosovo's internationally supervised independence.
On January 31 Kosovo’s parliament adopted a resolution calling for an end to "internationally supervised" independence by the end of 2012.
Referring the case to the Constitutional Court, the government of Hashin Thaci asked the court whether any changes foreseen in the constitution would undermine any of the fundamental right or freedoms guaranteed within it.
The Court has now sent its opinion back to the government, which asked the court to examine the amendments to the constitution.
The court ruled that only one of 22 amendments in question, dealing with refugees, cannot be taken out of the constitution.
“Of 22 amendments, the court finds that one of them, Amendment 17, if taken out, reduces human rights and fundamental freedoms," it said.
"This refers to Article 156 of the constitution dealing with refugees and internally displaced persons,” the court explained.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008. Since then 91 states, including 22 EU member states and the US, have recognized it.
But, as part of the independence process, the country has remained under a form of international monitoring, with substantial powers reserved to an International Civilian Representative.
Removal of the amendments will leave Kosovo's Serbs without the 10 reserved seats they currently have in parliament.
Other ethnic minorities, including Turks, Bosnians, Romas, Ashkali, Egyptians, will also lose their 10 reserved seats if Article 148, dealing with the issue, is taken out of the constitution, as the government intends.
The government proposal to amend the constitution will not be sent to parliament for adoption before September, when the International Steering Group, which oversees Kosovo’s progress, is expected to pronounce on ending its supervision on Kosovo.
The group of 25 member states, known as the “Friends of Kosovo”, met last in January in Vienna and announced preparations to wind up its supervision by the end of 2012.
The International Steering Group, the body tasked with overseeing Kosovo's supervised independence, has endorsed a twin-track strategy for beginning the end of the process, first seeking more guarantees from the government in such fields as decentralization, community rights, cultural heritage and dealing with the past.