Thursday, May 10, 2007

Montenegro gets invitation for membership in Council of Europe

May 09, 2007

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe invited Montenegro to become the 47th member state of the oldest European institution, it was announced in Podgorica.

The ceremonious reception on the occasion is slated for Friday, 11th of May.

Montenegro has agreed to a number commitments required by the Council of Europe, including establishment of a civic society, providing constitutional mechanisms aimed at securing the independence of the judiciary and measures to protect human rights.
The issues surrounding minority rights have apparently been swept under the rug by both Montenegrin and Albanian elites, notwithstanding the abusive treatment of Albanian political prisoners victimized by erroneous and bogus judicial proceedings.

As this Blog has attested from the very beginning, Montenegro will have a clear path to European and international institutions membership without objections or reservation, regardless of their policies towards its minorities. Their ill-treatment of minorities will continue to prevail because Albanians are reluctant to (1) recognize what is happening to them, (2) demand adherence to international human rights laws designed to protect their status, (3) learn these same laws and apply them to their remorseful situation, and (3) denounce the cleavages that exist in their own communities between one another, where we have witnessed Albanians being the biggest obstacle to Albanians in reaching any form of social, political, and/or civic protection in the minority sphere.

The establishment of a civic society refers to treating all members of such a society as equals; this is not so in Malësia or Ulqin, evidenced by employment rates and academic progress. The judiciary has been called out by international monitoring institutions as biased and corrupt, and we are now witnessing Albanians on trial in front of officials that are suspect in their true intensions, primarily to appease the party in power. Wherefore, measures to protect human rights are a mute point in Montenegro. But how does the COE know this without any objections from within this same society? What human/minority rights violations are being carried out without a cry for help (and we are not referring the Diaspora here, but the people that live and breath in Montenegro)? Montenegro will apply and be accepted into the European Union without any undue delays, in the same fashion as they are doing today with the several institutions they have become members of thus far. So long as there is no public chorus of disapproval from its minority population, especially Albanians, Montenegro is a favorite son of the United States and other western European nations that have called it a model for multi-ethnic democratic transforming in the Balkans.


Anonymous said...

Bullshit! They are no model of any form of multi-ethnic cohesion.

It is dis-heartening that Albanians there are not proactive in demanding what is theirs' but Montenegro is still a Slavic nation that would want nothing more than what their bretheren Serbs attempted in Kosova -- to eliminate Albanians!

I am a Kosovar, sympathetic to all Albaniasn whereever they may live, but I agree that Montenegro Albanians have a softer side to them, perhaps more accepting of the ststus quo there, which leads at least me to believe taht relations between us and them in Montenegro are fine, quite a fact given that they have inter-married and communicate in the same language (Slavic), listen to teh same music (Slavic) and learn under the same academic instruction (again, in Slavic).

Anonymous said...

Strasbourg: Speech by Milan Rocen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Montenegro, at the ceremony for the accession of Montenegro to the Council of Europe



Mr. Secretary General,
Mr. Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly,
Mr. Chairman of the Committee of Ministers,
Representatives of the Parliament of Montenegro,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have a historical honour to greet you on behalf of citizens and leadership of Montenegro. This is a great day for us. A day when we become full-fledged member of the Council of Europe, the oldest, distinguished pan-European organization.

I would like to thank to all who supported the admission of Montenegro to Council of Europe. Especially to the Secretary General, President and members of the Parliamentary Assembly, members and chairman of the Committee of Ministers. We owe special gratitude to San Marino for its efforts.

May 21, 2006 will remain carved in golden letters in Montenegro’s modern history. On this day our citizens decided to restore statehood on a democratic referendum, in partnership with the EU, Council of Europe and the OSCE. We are proud not only because Montenegro, an old European state, provided itself the privilege of being the youngest state in Europe and the world today. But also because of the way we did this, in civilized, democratic manner, in accordance with highest European standards. It happened for the first time in long Balkan history. The new Montenegro was born in values founded by modern Europe, values that the Council of Europe promotes. That is why Montenegro is a European success story.

Membership in Council of Europe will strengthen the foundations of our democracy and contribute to more efficient protection of human rights. On this road, we expect further assistance and support of the Council of Europe. I assure you we will be a worthy member of the Council of Europe. A member who accepts its values, standards and principles.

This is yet another success we made in this year on our road to European and Euro Atlantic integration. We expect to sign in the first half of this year Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU. As well as the Interim Agreement, and Agreement on visa facilitation and readmission. We also hope for further progress in Euro Atlantic integration, since we became a member of the Partnership for Peace. With members of the Venice Commission, we are promptly working on new Constitution of the independent Montenegro. This document will lastingly confirm our strategic European and Euro Atlantic orientation.

We are aware that we open the doors to the EU and NATO in Montenegro and the Region, not in Brussels. That is why we are fully committed to fulfilling all obligations stemming from Council of Europe membership and contractual relations with the EU. We have managed to be the only republic that preserved peace and multiethnic harmony in the war storm. That is why I am sure that in this new ambience, we will be able to make tremendous progress in strengthening democratic institutions, respect for human rights and liberties and the rule of law. In such way, we will uphold Montenegro as an oasis of multiethnic and multicultural harmony, in accordance with the European formula.

Let the Montenegrin flag that we raise today before this respectable institution be the symbol of the new, happier, European future of Montenegro, and of our Region as well, which we believe has the same destiny.

Thank you for attention.

Strasbourg, May 11, 2007

Anonymous said...

Was not there supposed to be a demonstration during this ceramony??


Anonymous said...

Yes, there was one discussed, from one email to another, but no one seemed too interested. Perhaps it was the distance concerned, or perhaps the disinterest now. No one seems to care as they once vowed to fight until the prisoners are all released!!

What happened? Did we fold? Was Montenegro just too overwhelming and scared us away. They did their job with those in Malesi, but did the Diapora also wither away?

I hear Levizja is taking a trip to the Balkans next week, and plan to vivit the prisoners. What will that do? What about Shoqata Malesia e Madhe in Detroit?

Can anyone hear meee??????

Anonymous said...

I once heard someone say,

"Malesia will be the last struggle left in putting the pieces of the puzzle together once again."

This is obvious with the problems facing Albanians there.

Anonymous said...

Yep, putting Humpty Dumpty back together again will be quite a challenge. Not all the pieces are willing to be glued.

Anonymous said...

So sad, yet so true!!!

Anonymous said...

What else can the diaspora do???

Anonymous said...

not Diaspora, but Albanians in Malesia!

Conference Organizer said...

STRASBOURG, France -- Montenegro officially joined the Council of Europe (CoE) as its 47th member on Friday (May 11th). The CoE Secretary General Terry Davis lauded the accession of Montenegro, which followed the proclamation of the Balkan state's independence one year ago, and urged the country to meet the subsequent membership responsibilities, such as the adoption of key CoE conventions.

Anonymous said...

As the diplomatic tug-of-war over former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari's blueprint for Kosovo continues, relatively little attention has been paid to the actual contents of the document. In Kosovo and elsewhere, the focus tends to be on the front-end of the proposal -- the part where Kosovo is granted the right to a flag, anthem and, most importantly, the right to conclude international agreements and the right to seek membership in international institutions.

Less is said about the truly monumental tasks involved in making the Ahtisaari package a reality on-the-ground. It is doubtful that most people on the street, whether in Pristina or North Mitrovica, have a clear idea of what would come after "independence day".

Ahtisaari's proposal is first and foremost a document designed to make Kosovo a multiethnic society. This means that the non-Albanian communities have been granted substantial powers. With more than 90% of Kosovo made up of Albanians, the minority Serb, Roma, Ashkali, Gorani, Egyptian, Turk and Bosniak communities are given tremendous influence in all sectors. In brief, Ahtisaari has designed an asymmetric state.

One can certainly imagine that in the new Kosovo minority parties will be able to play critical roles in the formation of both governments and government policy. It is also worth noting that Ahtisaari's proposals for community rights did not come out of the blue. They were already in the Kosovo Albanian side's negotiation package for the direct talks in Vienna.

As a first step, Kosovo will have to adopt a constitution that will include many aspects of the Ahtisaari package. A constitutional commission must be formed that includes 21 members, three of whom will come from the Serb community and three from other non-majority communities. Upon approval of the constitution by the existing Assembly in Kosovo, new elections must be held within nine months.

Kosovo Albanians have committed themselves to significant obligations under the proposed plan. [Getty Images]

The new electoral system borrows much of what was already there, but there are some important changes. There are still 120 seats based on proportional representation. The big difference here is that the party lists will be open -- until now they have been closed, much to the dissatisfaction of many citizens. Twenty seats have been set aside for non-Albanian communities -- ten for the Serb community and ten for other communities. For the first two electoral mandates these are required minimums. Any seats gained in the elections are in addition to the reserved seats.

The new assembly rules also include various qualified majority voting rules. Certain legal changes would require not only a majority in the Assembly but also a majority of Assembly members who represent non-majority communities. In essence, any major alterations require everyone's assent. The new cabinet must include a Serb minister and a minister from another non-majority community. The same rule applies for deputy ministers as well. If the cabinet has more than 12 members, than the non-majority communities get an additional minister and deputy minister.

Any future changes to the constitution require approval from two-thirds of assembly members as well as two-thirds of the members who represent non-majority communities. The same rules apply to the justice system. Kosovo's Supreme Court must have at least 15% of judges representing non-majority communities.

Outside of national level institutions, the communities are again granted wide powers at the local level. Full access to schooling in any official language of Kosovo (Albanian and Serbian), and free use of national symbols, language and alphabet are guaranteed. Where non-majority communities form at least 10% of the population, the post of vice-president of the Municipal Assembly goes to a representative of non-majority communities. As is the case with the Ohrid Framework Agreement, Kosovo's public service at all levels must reflect the multiethnic nature of Kosovo society.

The most crucial area, however, is decentralisation. This is potentially the biggest hurdle for the Albanian majority, as the Ahtisaari package creates a fairly decentralised state with a number of new municipalities designed to accommodate Serb demands. For example, North Mitrovica gets control over higher education and health care. The same holds true for other Serb-dominated municipalities. Schools that teach in the Serbian language are free to use books developed by appropriate ministries in Serbia.

A strong international community presence is envisaged, although many aspects of this have yet to be worked out. As in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the plan grants sweeping powers to the International Civilian Representative (ICR) who also acts as the EU's special representative. The ICR's powers are easy to interpret: he/she is the final authority on the implementation of the package. It is the ICR that makes the difference between independence and supervised independence.

A strong international presence in Kosovo is expected for the near future. [UNMIK]

Ahtisaari's proposal does more than create a quasi-independent Kosovo. He offered a framework for another stage in Kosovo's evolution. This stage seems set to last for a protracted period, in the hope that by the time true independence does come, things in the region might make this type of solution more palatable.

Under renewed and potentially more stringent supervision, Kosovo's communities must now prove that they can sustain a multiethnic state. Much depends on the Albanian majority's political will and enthusiasm for remaining committed to Ahtisaari's vision. But it is also up to the non-Albanian communities to make the most of the powers granted them. Should they fail to do so, the blame could not be placed on the Albanians.

Reactions to the plan so far suggest that both sides should spend more energy looking at the specifics -- as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Kosovo's media is now focused entirely on the endgame and the diplomatic showdown with Serbia and Russia. There is little talk on how to move forward afterwards. At the same time, the Serb community in Kosovo has the opportunity to consider how the Ahtisaari proposal can be used to their advantage. Anyone who suggests that Kosovo is set to become simply another Albanian state in the Balkans has not read the fine print.

A public outreach campaign, especially by the Albanian authorities in Kosovo, would help the public understand just what is expected when it comes to the implementation phase. By accepting the package, the Albanian majority has undertaken a sweeping set of obligations that will be expensive, challenging and not altogether pleasing. Political will and an informed population will be critical if Kosovo is to move ahead.