Kosovo: The most important election since the country proclaimed independence
The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has prepared an analysis of the current political situation in Kosovo which has entered the final part of the campaign for the early parliamentary election scheduled for 11 June 2017. The most relevant and interesting sections from the analysis entitled “Kosovo: The most important election since the country proclaimed independence” are published below
The most important election since the country proclaimed independence
The Republic of Kosovo proclaimed independence from the Republic of Serbia on 17 February 2008. Kosovo's political leaders announced accelerated development of the newly established state and promised to build strong institutions that will enable inner stability and peace, thus contributing to stability and peace in the region. However, those promises have not been realised. Even worse, Kosovo citizens are deeply disappointed with the ruling political structures. The country is suffering from a permanent political crisis.
On 11 June 2017 the third (early) parliamentary election is taking place since the country proclaimed independence. IFIMES has written about this topic in the analysis entitled “Kosovo:Expected tectonic changes on the political scene”; see http://www.ifimes.org/ba/9376 .
THE CRIMINAL OCTOPUS IN KOSOVO
Who represents the criminal octopus in Kosovo? Theroots of today's crime in Kosovo stem from its government-in-exile. The main nests of crime are the former commanders of Kosovo Liberation Army(UÇK-OVK) and (para)intelligence services (ShIK) in cooperation with political structures. ShIK had to be dissolved in 2008 in order to establish the official Kosovo intelligence agency (AKI-KIA) in 2009.
Strong connections can be observed in recent past between the present political leaders and huge amounts of money raised through various funds. The Vendlindja thrret (Homeland is calling) fund was controlled by one of the present leaders of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and his brother. Money was raised throughout Europe for this fund. The Levizja Popullore e Kosoves national movement formed in 1997-98 raised money in the diaspora. The result was the establishment of PDK in 1999. The Fond 3% fund was established in 1991 and was controlled by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). It operated very non-transparently and involved the closest family members of Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi. Some of them have already been prosecuted, which also opens the possibility for prosecuting President Thaçi. One of his brothers plays a special role in Kosovo Insurance Bureau (BKS) and controls the complete financial system through the Central Bank of Kosovo (BQK).
There have also been numerous cases of non-transparent privatisation of companies such as Sharrcem (the cement factory) in which Hashim Thaçi is involved in the ownership structure, Amortizeri in Pristina and Feronikel in Glogovac (Drenas). This triggers the question of how the Kosovo Energy Corporation (KEK), distribution, airport and road construction services were privatised or how concession was granted for them to the Turks. Nepotism is present in all segments of the society, and everything is controlled by the top structures of political parties. Another example is the company Devolli from Peć which claimes to have lost EUR 30 million in an arbitration process against the state of Kosovo (i.e. Telekom Kosova – PTK), while in fact it is the state of Kosovo which lost that sum of money in the arbitration. Again, connections have been found with President Hashim Thaçi and Prime Minister Isa Mustafa. There are many other cases of crime, corruption and intimidation. Representatives of EU in Kosovo (the EULEX mission) have expressed concern over the reported cases of intimidation and pressure, including those recorded during the election campaign. The political elites have divided their interest spheres between themselves and work in line an informal agreement of not working against each other.
THE PDK-LDK DUO “KILLED” THE HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE
The two incumbent coalition partners Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) led by Isa Mustafa and the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) led by Kadri Veseli have brought Kosovo into a difficult situation. The state of Kosovo and its democracy have been stolen by the political elites. The process of international recognition has been stopped. The political rivalry went so far that Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj (PDK) even blocked the activities related to international recognition, so that Prime Minister Mustafa and LDK wouldn't get credit for eventual success. The Serbian List (SL), which is under strong influence from Belgrade, and other minority communities in Kosovo represent the third coalition partner.
Prime Minister Mustafa has been a puppet in the hands of President Thaçi. The former is not competing for any position at the upcoming early parliamentary election. On the other hand, he has managed to eliminate all the promising LDK's staff by not listing them on the ticket and thus crippled his own party. LDK was a strong political leader in the 1980s and 1990s, while now it is a worn out and old party without any new faces. After having formed coalition with PDK, LDK lost its identity and left the state of Kosovo to be led unconstitutionally by Hashim Thaçi in both functions – as president and unofficially also as prime minister.
PDK and LDK have killed the hope of Kosovo citizens for a better future. In order to remain in power they have fulfilled all demands made by the international community and even by Serbia. Thus they accepted the unconstitutional decision to form the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), undertook the demarcation of the border between Kosovo and Montenegro and launched an initiative to form the Kosovo Army. The only political party that has not been in Kosovo's government yet and is not perceived to be involved in crime, corruption and various affairs is Albin Kurti's “Vetëvendosje”Self-Determination Movement(LVV) which enjoys increasing support among the citizens.
Analysts have estimated that Thaçi's concerns arise from the fact that after the non-election of Nikola Gruevski (VMRO-DPMNE) in Macedonia it is expected that Thaçi will also leave politics. According to international diplomatic sources Thaçi is the main reason that the Special war crimes court has been established in Kosovo.
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SUSPENDS DEMOCRACY
In one of its decisions the Constitutional Court of Kosovo stated that the formation of post-election coalitions was unconstitutional, while in Albania it is unconstitutional to form pre-election coalitions. In both cases the democracy was suspended by the constitutional court, since pre- and post-election coalitions represent an integral part of any developed democracy.
Analysts have also pointed to another phenomenon, namely the unconstitutional introduction of (semi)presidential system by Hashim Thaci who has gained complete control of the present government. A similar manoeuvre was made by Serbian President Boris Tadić in his second term of office when he unconstitutionally introduced the (semi)presidential system in Serbia.
The IFIMES International Institute believes that the decisions of the constitutional court should be suspended since they limit and prevent democracy by banning the formation of pre- and post-election coalition which is an integral part of any developed democracy.
NO VISA ABOLISHMENT UNDER THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT
Kosovo citizens are waiting in vain for the abolishment of the visa regime for the EU states. As long as the country is led by the political structure which is connected with the paramilitary, para-intelligence and criminal structures, the visa regime cannot be abolished. For Kosovo leaders this is a known fact, yet they have not revealed this bitter truth to the citizens. Kosovo deserves a better future. It should be integrated into international flows through international recognition and membership in international organisations.
SERBIA STILL ACTS TO THE DETRIMENT OF KOSOVO SERBS
The incumbent Kosovo government (LDK – PDK) has been abusing the election campaign by using various forms of pressure, extortion and intimidation. The same method is applied by authorities in Belgrade, who have infiltrated their puppets among the Kosovo Serbs to intimidate, pressure or prevent other Serbian parties and tickets to participate at the next election. The fairness and loyalty of the election campaign depends mostly on the media.Through the Serbian List (SL) Belgrade exerts pressure on other Serbian parties and lists to withdraw from election of to prevent them from entering the Kosovo Assembly (Parliament). For example president of the Kosovo Serbs Party Aleksandar Jablanović has been physically assaulted. The Progressive Party of Kosovo withdrew from the upcoming parliamentary election due to the “unstable political situation” and after the appeal from Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic who called on Kosovo Serbs to show solidarity and political unity with Serbia, as was stated by the president of Progressive Party of Kosovo Aleksandar Grujić.
With their statements Director of the Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Đurić and Serbian Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy Aleksandar Vulin have also acted to the detriment of Kosovo Serbs, since they do not live in Kosovo and are not familiar with the problems and challenges faced by Kosovo Serbs. That is why Kosovo Serbs need an authentic party of Kosovo Serbs which would represent them in the institutions of Kosovo. Kosovo Serbs should no longer be controlled by Belgrade, since this further aggravates their already complex and difficult situation.
According to information from international diplomatic circles a part of political structures in Serbia – notably Serbia's Foreign Minister and president of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) Ivica Dačić – still aims to divide Kosovo so that the northern part would belong to Serbia.
PDK AND LDK ARE LOSING POPULARITY
The main race at the upcoming early parliamentary election in Kosovo will take place between the coalitions and the three main political rivals: Kadri Veseli's (or actually Hashim Thaçi's) Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Isa Mustafa's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and Albin Kurti's “Vetëvendosje” Self-Determination Movement (LVV).
Public opinion polls carried out in Kosovo have shown that the coalition gathered around LDK and PDK is losing popularity. Very small differences between the three parties shown by pre-election surveys mean that the winner will be decided in the final part of the campaign.
The undecided voters are not in favour of the PDK-LDK coalitions, especially the young generation which expects refreshment in the political scene through political parties that have not yet participated in the government of Kosovo.
Most undecided voters share the opinion that the incumbent government (PDK-LDK) should be punished for their unprincipled coalition and their connections with crime, corruption, nepotism, intimidation, threats, war crimes, liquidations and extortions. The incumbent government has left nothing but many empty promises.
THE YOUNG WANT POLITICAL CHANGES
The IFIMES International Institute believes that the upcoming early parliamentary election will be the most important parliamentary election since the Republic of Kosovo proclaimed independence. The main task of the new government will be to stop the negative trends in almost every segment of the Kosovo society. Previous authorities have completely destroyed the country's economy. They are obviously not capable of resolving the challenges that Kosovo is facing. After 17 years in power they are now characterised by crime, corruption and nepotism. Under those circumstances it should not be the citizens of Kosovo who should be punished by the EU which should apply the visa regime only to political elites. Kosovo therefore urgently needs to carry out decriminalisation of politics. Kosovo Albanians suspected of crime, corruption and war crimes should be prosecuted at court. The political party scene in Kosovo is controlled by PDK and by the SHiK (para)intelligence service. Kosovo Albanians cannot ensure a better future for themselves unless they deal with the past. PDK and LDK failed the test and destroyed all the hope of Kosovo citizens for a better future. That is why the forthcoming early election will be the most important election since the country proclaimed independence. The young generation wants changes. Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe – every second citizen is younger than 30. In the electoral roll for the upcoming early parliamentary election there are about 120 000 young voters who will have the opportunity to vote for the first time.
Ljubljana, 9 June 2017