The Acting President of the Republic of Kosovo Dr. Jakup Krasniqi participates in the Conference on the “Progress Report on Kosovo for 2010”

The Acting President of the Republic of Kosovo Dr. Jakup Krasniqi held a speech at a press conference organised by the Institute for Political and European Studies (IPES) in Pristina.

Addressing the audience, Mr. Krasniqi said in the beginning that Kosovo has joint the European states in order to make a progress for Kosovo and that this was the third report on a Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state.
 
Below we are presenting the highlights of the speech held at the conference by the Acting President of the Republic of Kosovo Dr. Jakup Krasniqi:
 
The Report is a document that we may say has mobilised the most important segments of political, institutional, social and economic lives in Kosovo. It provides a very clear overview of developments that have taken place over the past years and in 2010 in particular. The Progress Report explains relations between Republic of Kosovo and European Union and analyses the political situation in terms of democracy, rule of law, human rights, minority protection, regional affairs. It analyses economic situation in Kosovo and reviews Kosovo capacities to implement European partnership standards and priorities in legislation and policies. The Report assesses the situation in the northern Kosovo, which we all know remains tense, but stable.
 
In 2008 – 2011, the European Union has planned to grant donations to Kosovo amounting to 508 million euros. The document for planning indicators for 2001 – 2013 is being prepared. The document will identify main IPA areas and priorities.
 
The policy criteria section monitors the progress made in terms of Copenhagen criteria, which require: institutional stability, democracy, rule of law, respect of human rights, respect and protection of minorities, regional cooperation, good relations with neighbours and cooperation with the International Tribunal for crimes committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
 
We will try to mention some important segments, and, since we have the media here, we will start with the freedom of the media. The treatment that this sector receives in Kosovo is very biased. When people think of the political influence on the media, they are inclined to allude to the position that institutions of Kosovo and the Government in particular maintain on the media.

I consider such a perception wrong. Political influence is not only exerted by the Government, but it is exerted, rather, by politics in general, and politics in general is made of all political parties in Kosovo and, I would say, by the very civil society and the media, because of the way they are organised.
Of course we cannot be satisfied with the current level of freedom of press or speech in Kosovo, but the problem probably lies – and I repeat – on the cultural and educational levels, on the accountability of the media and journalists and on the respect that they show for the code of journalism in performing their tasks.
 
Often the press and broadcast media know how to make comments or broadcast biased programs, not to say ordered ones. All these altogether damage freedom of speech, freedom of the media and, finally, sometimes unjustly, political figures, owing to their bias, including ordered articles and programmes here. We regret to say, but all this contributes to political influence on the freedom of the speech and the media.
 
We know that we have had problems regarding the financing of the RTK. We have tried as an Assembly, since we bear a special responsibility, to find ways for financing. We might have not found the best way, but we have found a way to preserve, to a certain extent, the independence of this important medium for Kosovo.
 
Another thing that I want to stress in front of you here is that politics alone can not protect the media. The freedom of the media can often be protected by their leaders themselves. All independent mechanisms in Kosovo can complain of politics, but their leaders bear a high responsibility and this is to perform their duties based on their rights and pursuant to laws by which they have been established.
 
Another important segment in terms of report findings is the third branch of power i.e. the Kosovo judiciary, or, if you wish, the entire justice system in Kosovo, as a third and independent branch of power. This branch has been appraised in two directions or fields: in terms of lawmaking done by the Assembly of Kosovo – and the Assembly of Kosovo, as the highest institution of the country, was positively rated in this regard – and in terms of reforms kicked off in the justice system in general and judiciary in particular. I consider that, here as well, we have tried to provide our contribution. However, we cannot be satisfied with the way with the justice system in general has functioned during all these years in Kosovo, because there are many pending cases.
 
The system has had many shortcomings over these ten years and we can freely say that it has failed to discharge its mandate. Various political and financial crimes have been committed over the past ten years in Kosovo, though there is much more talking of corruption among us, always attributing it to the higher levels, though corruption takes place at levels at which it is not so much talked about. Often, it takes place more at levels at which it is not debated that much than in those at which there is to much talking about it. What I want to say is that the Kosovo budget is severely damaged from many directions. The customs has been damaged and, though we never had staff movements there, we have an increase in the number of staff, but we yet cannot say there was no corruption there or that smuggling has not taken place there. This sector, though controlled, in its largest part, by the former-international administration and by EULEX now, cannot receive a quote positive rating, though it is appraised so, to a certain extent, in the Report, given the fact that there was an increase in the customs income, but, in reality, the customs remains the place where the Kosovo Consolidated Budget was damaged the most and not for a year, but for more than ten years now.
 
This institution is in need of a radical reform and can contribute to the power of the Kosovo budget, whereas the power of the Kosovo budget can contribute to much better choices than those that the Kosovan society has for the moment.
 
We are referring to the justice system, because many crimes have gone unpunished over the past ten years. These unpunished crimes include most recent cases, like the attack on a police officer in Klina, or the attack on a EULEX employee. These are not positive signs for the rule of law in Kosovo and this is a consequence of the failure to prosecute crimes in Kosovo during the last ten years and interference by the politics, and not by politics alone, but also by the people in power. Whenever we think of political interference, we must never think of interference by institutions alone. In a justice system, as in other systems, like in the media, there can be extra-institutional interferences, because often a considerable part of politics is conducted outside institutions. Perhaps the biggest interferences that we consider to be political take place outside institutions, rather than inside them. I believe this is how we must perceive it.
 
Fight against corruption and organised crime remains a concern. Corruption is a phenomenon present in societies in general, and in transition societies in particular. Societies in transition are vulnerable, have vulnerable institutions, and the powerful are impossible to punish and sometimes even the society supports those who create a power outside institutions, and institutions do not have the power enough power to give a merited answer to the powerful, be they inside or outside institutions. We must always keep one thing in mind: that attacks should not always be directed against institutions. Oftentimes, those who interfere by threats or blackmailing are out of institutional life, though we cannot rule out potential interferences from within institutions in Kosovo. Therefore, all the political parties and entities aim at institutions.
 
Nevertheless, the Progress Report indicates, almost in every segment, that a progress has been made and I believe that this part must be seen.
 
Economic requirements constitute another domain that it is tackled in the Report. Kosovo has made headway here as well. Despite the fact that Kosovo was isolated, it has seen a growth of 4-4.5%. When we take into account the global financial crisis and the fact that many countries have seen a lower growth, or even a regress, this is a factor that makes us feel sure that Kosovo will see an economic growth. According to the report, the financial stability has been maintained, though with a high price perhaps paid by businesses that take loans from banks. Certainly, the economic growth has come partially as a result of capital investments from public funds. Unemployment has dropped a little.
 
Unemployment should also be perceived from the viewpoint of informal economy. Informal economy is spread in Kosovo. We hope that the law that has been adopted by the end of the mandate of the third legislature of the Assembly i.e. the Law on Labour will facilitate a bit the reduction of informal economy, which remains quite a concern in Kosovo.
 
The legal system has improved in general, but we must confess that the system needs further reforms.
 
The report also mentions some needs and especially a positive progress with regard to the environment. A progress was made in the transport, especially in the road and railway transport, and a positive progress was also made in the civil aviation. On the other hand, a lot remains to be done in terms of energy, as the main source of economic growth in Kosovo. We hope that, with the privatisation of the KEK and soon as institutions that will merge from the December 12 elections will assume their duties, a change will be made in this sector, which really remains a sector that causes a lot of problems to Kosovo.
 
The legal infrastructure has improved to a certain extent, but the Report also mentions that a favourable environment for investments has been created. There is also a decrease in the interest of investors to invest in Kosovo and this is perhaps because of the global financial crisis.
 
Another sector that has seen little progress, and that should have seen more, is agriculture. It was only this year that meaningful subsidies were provided to the agriculture, but yet the Kosovo budget is week to assist more the sector of agriculture.
 
Another segment that has been dealt quite impartially is the increase of administrative capacities in Kosovo. Despite investments made in this field during all these years, these capacities have remained insufficient to assist the administration to complete their duties.
 
We must always bear in mind that  Kosovo is a young country. Though the way for Kosovo visa liberalisation has not been paved yet, I am convinced that Kosovo has built no less capacities than Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia or another country of the region in some fields.
 
I consider there is another political obstacle apart from technical deficiencies in accommodating the needs provided by EU standards. This political obstacle is the non-recognition of the independent state of Kosovo by five EU countries. This is a political obstacle also to the visa liberalisation.
 
Concerning implementation of minority standards, Kosovo has set new standards that even surpass the standards of the countries of the region and some European countries. In this regard, Kosovo has made more progress than reported in the Progress Report.
 
Concerning relations with neighbours, the Report maintains that Kosovo has made more headway. Kosovo was not an obstacle to building good relations with the neighbours, especially with Serbia. In terms of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, Kosovo was not the problem in any way. The problem has lied and still lies in Serbia.