Today I won’t be talking about positive things, I won’t be talking about why someone should visit Kosovo.. Today I will talk about political and economic developments in the first 6 months of 2015 in Kosovo.
Since after the war, the beginning of 2015 was characterized with lots of problem, many of them ended with people protesting in the street, from which some escalated the situation.
After the independence, or more precisely after the end of war with Serbia in 1999, people were hoping for positive changes. Lots of international organization brought financial aid, many investors (especially from Diaspora) invested lots of money in Kosovo, and yet Kosovo’s economy was not developed. Contrary, 16 years after the war corruption and crime have increased more than ever, and so has increased the frustration of citizens. Fighting with survival citizens of Kosovo have lost their patient. This is how the year 2015 found Kosovo, and this is how it moved on. Three first months of the year 2015 market the highest number of protesters in the street, since the end of the war in 1999. As such there protest from medical sector, administrative workers, education, and the famous protest from Jabllanovic case which started in Gjakova and followed in almost all cities, and ending in Prishtina with removal of ex-minister Jabllanovi. (Explanation for you who are not familiar with Jabllanovic case: he was appointed as Minister in Kosovo’s Assembly from the Serbian Political Party in Kosovo, and he offended mothers of the war victims in Gjakova, when he and a Serbian Minister from Serbia were visiting a church in Gjakova. Mothers of the war victims went in the street and didn’t want to allow the Serbian Minister to enter in Gjakova, since he was part of the war when Serbians did massacre in Gjakova and those mothers lost their sons there. So, as a reaction he called these mothers monsters and cursed on them).
The first three months of 2015 were characterized with huge migration. Tens of busses were living Kosovo every night in the direction to Serbia, from where they were passing illegally to Hungary and then anywhere they want to. This issue became so big, but no real and concrete reactions were done from all sides: Kosovo Government, Serbia and even EU. Only nowadays countries such as Germany are sending these migrants back in Kosovo, and such actions only impacted the rapid flow of migration, but it didn’t stop it. Some of the rumors in the country tell that migration was injected from our government in purpose by which they would request visa liberalization (as currently Kosovo is the only country in the Balkan and Europe that cannot travel anywhere without visa), but on the other hand EU officials conditioned our government to stop migration in case they want to further negotiate the visa liberalization process. One way or another we continue to live in ghetto, and spend lots of time and money to get visa and travel somewhere.
The second quarter was characterized mainly with news regarding the establishment of Special Court for War Crimes committed by Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). From April 2015 when the initial green light was given for the creation of this court, this topic was mostly covered by media, as well as discussed among common citizens. Population is divided into two halves: one in favor of and the other groups against the establishment of this court (again for you who donnot know special court is planned to be established only for Kosovars and abroad from Kosovo. This frustrated many people as why only Kosovars will be judged while we have more proofs that Serbians were the one who mostly have done genocides in Kosovo. Nonetheless the Dick Marty report found evidences that Kosovars did commit genocides and moreover were engaged in organ trafficking, and since courts in Kosovo are weak, respectively rules of law in Kosovo are very weak, this court should be held somewhere else). The ones in favor justify their will as this should be seen as a diplomatic move and advancement in the process of EU integration and visa liberalization. However, the ones against it say that establishment of this court undermines and violates the sovereignty of Kosovo. One way or another, this court (if you ask me) will be established, otherwise it can be voted in UN and this could bring back the UN resolution 1244, by which Kosovo is part of the Serbia, governed through UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and by which the declaration of Independence will be invalid.
Unfortunately, besides political turmoil the economic conditions in Kosovo are not to be commended. Since after the war economic development was always considered as second priority, and as such was treated the economic solutions offered: promises, 3 day workshop ended with only one slide of power point presentation, some economic strategies which never showed any result. If we analyze Kosovo’s economy we will see that its trade balance is negative, not only because its imports more than its exports, but also because what Kosovo export is mainly scrap or off-peak energy while imports almost everything. The newly formed government approved its economic plan in 2015, but which unfortunately didn’t provide concrete solution, although was promoted as the government of economic development. The plan itself doesn’t have numbers as performance measurements, contrary it uses words as ‘better’, ‘improve’ and similar. Yet compared to previous economic plans, it is the first plan which would be considered as more real and more promising. Offering fiscal solutions, removal of VAT on basic consumption products, and similar are solution to be applauded.
Other news very much present in the media on economic topic during these 6 months was corruption and poor economic conditions of Kosovar citizens. Hasan Preteni, the head of Anti-Corruption Agency in Kosovo, although not acting in practice, was talking openly about the presence of corruption in Kosovo declaring that ‘corruption is being fought a lot, but no one is investigating’. Also the British Ambassador in Kosovo, Ruairi O’Connell talked about corruption by stating and constantly repeating that fighting corruption is among the top priorities of this country, however no results are seen in reality. Moreover, the report of the Kosovo Law Institute shows that less than 50% of the cases sent in the Kosovo Prosecution were solved. As per poor economic condition, the unemployment rate in Kosovo has increased during 2015 more than in 2014, by which the unemployment rate exceed 40%.
A very bombastic news in the second quarter of 2015 was the new on possible terroristic attack in Balkan countries, including Kosovo, especially during the wholly month of Ramadan. Besides the news, also the publication of the Report on the Causes and Consequences of involvement of the citizens of Kosovo as foreign fighter in Syria and Iraq, during the month of April 2015, opened a discussion in this topic among the wider public and somehow influenced their approach towards this topic. Moreover, worldwide attacks, such as the one in Tunisia resulted with higher awareness and greater fear towards these fighters. Since the arrests in Kosovo in 2014, this topic has never before been in the spotlight, and is still continuing especially after the arrest of 4 people in Badovci Lake, whom they found an ISIS flag, masks, poison, etc., by which it is supposed that these people tended to poison the lake, from which half of the Prishtina (capital city in Kosovo) is supplied with drinking water.
Of course there were many more negative news, but I didn’t want to sound more negative, as these were the main news and occurrences during these 6 months. And yes, here I live, here live around 2 million people, over 60% of who are younger than 30 years old. And yet it’s not that bad… There are still good things to do and see, and positive reasons to live for, but that’s for another article.