ESI: 47 again? Russia out, Kosovo in

The European Stability Initiative (ESI) called on foreign ministers of member states of the Council of Europe on Monday to accept Kosovo’s membership bid and to process it to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. 

“It is striking how differently Russia and Kosovo have been treated by the governments of Council of Europe member states in recent years.”

“Russia, a nuclear superpower with a population of 146 million and a landmass stretching across nine time zones, joined the Council of Europe in 1996. As a Council of Europe member, Russia waged wars in Chechnya (1999-2000), invaded Georgia (2008), annexed Crimea (2014), triggered war in Eastern Ukraine (from 2014), bombed civilians in Syria (from 2015), and then launched an assault against the whole of Ukraine in February 2022.”

“Kosovo, one of Europe’s smallest democracies with a population of less than 2 million, with a territory that is 0.05 percent that of Russia, declared its independence in February 2008. This was recognized by a large majority of members of the Council of Europe (34 of 46).”

“In October 2008, the General Assembly of the United Nations turned to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague with a simple question: “Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo by international law?” In July 2010, the ICJ concluded that “the declaration of independence of Kosovo adopted on 17 February 2008 did not violate international law”. 

“Unlike Russia, Kosovo has seen peaceful transfers of political power following free and fair elections. Unlike Russia, independent Kosovo never had political prisoners. Unlike Russia, it has not waged any wars.”

“And yet, for many years, Kosovo governments have been actively discouraged from applying for Council of Europe membership by other members. The result: Kosovo remains outside. It is today the only European democracy which is not yet a member of the Council of Europe.”