The President: Let us all unite in the fight against corruption

Prishtina, November 18 – The President of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, has gathered today the National Council Anti Corruption.

The President, from the outset has encouraged the participants to speak openly and to be engaged jointly in the context of this council, to strengthen the communication, coordination and cooperation in the fight against corruption.

He pointed out that throughout these years of existence as a state, the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo with the support of the civil society and the international partners have undertaken initiatives and actions aimed at consolidating the rule of law and in function of respecting the constitutional order.

According to him, a very important step in function of the consolidation of the rule of law in Kosovo is the extraction of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kosovo and Criminal Procedure Code, which have entered into force from January 01, 2013.

“From day one of my work as President of the country, I have encouraged the responsible institutions to make a review of the criminal justice, including also the amendment-supplementation of the legal basis, namely the Criminal Code, sanctioning the suspension or dismissal of senior public officials accused or convicted of criminal acts of corruption”, he said.

The President,  also said that in the context of the work on the electoral reform we have discussed about the proposal to prevent the candidacy in the elections of accused or convicted officials for criminal acts of corruption or organized crime.

“The opening of a case or the raising of a indictment is not enough if we do not have a final judgment on these cases, including also the confiscation of assets obtained illegally”, he stressed.

Thaçi has said that we must always have this weight of responsibility to our attention. “We owe a lot to the generations that have sacrificed for the freedom and independence of the country, but also to the generations to come, which deserve to enjoy equal opportunities and perspectives for education, employment and development”, he added.

In his speech, President Thaçi has also mentioned the challenges that lie ahead of the institutions of Kosovo to achieve tangible results in strengthening the rule of law.

“The necessity of closer inter-institutional cooperation, the application of sophisticated investigation methods and techniques, increasing the number of cases that end up with convictions, the harmonization of statistics concerning the cases, the strengthening of internal control of the institutions and enhancing transparency and accountability between institutions”, said the President.

He has said that the prevention and combating of corruption is an unavoidable condition not only in the Euro-Atlantic integration but also in the creation of a safe environment for investment.

Thaçi has added that, last year, Kosovo has been qualified and is allowed to benefit tens of millions of dollars of investment from the Millennium Corporation - MCC. But, according to him, the investment of these funds is conditional upon the progress in the fight against corruption.

The President emphasized that it is important not only to achieve results, but to communicate  these results to the public and to have open dialogue with the civil society and the media.

“It often happens that Kosovo’s progress remains unreported and that the public perception is far worse than the reality in many areas of the rule of law, from the fight against corruption up to the fight against extremism and terrorism. The institutions of Kosovo are working, but this work must be communicated in a transparent manner and to be also discussed with the civil society”,  he said.

The President also spoke about the importance the fight against corruption has in the advancement of Kosovo’s Euro-Atlantic agenda. He has congratulated the Ministry of European Integration and the civil society organizations for having reached the agreement on “OPEN DATA”, being this a platform that will enable transparency and greater accountability of public money spenders.

He has appealed that the fact that we have real and critical assessment of the challenges we are facing, should not be used by anyone to block the perspective of the citizens of Kosovo.

“Here, first of all, I refer to the unfair approach of the European Union, that in the absence of political will to ensure freedom of movement without visas for the citizens of Kosovo, constantly invoke the necessity for the implementation of the criteria, which, have not been implemented from the countries whose visas have been liberalized, but neither from a majority of member states of the EU”, he said.

Thaci has stressed that Kosovo has done much more than any other country in the fight against crime and corruption and, like any other country, needs to continue to strengthen the fight against crime and corruption.

“But every further conditionality of this commitment with the decision on visa liberalization for Kosovo, will damage the credibility of the EU in Kosovo. Unfortunately, the EU is not interested at all to preserve its credibility in Kosovo, and I fear that this ignorant approach will not pass without negative consequences”, said President Thaçi.