Was 2015 a good or a bad year for Kosovo?

Was 2015 a good or a bad year for Kosovo?

By many people in Kosovo, 2015 is considered as a difficult year for the country. This year started with the massive exodus of young people toward European countries and ended with protests and political tension which led to a blockade of state institutions.

In the social and economic plan, 2015 found the citizens of Kosovo poorer and less happy.

Meanwhile, the only success that can be mentioned is the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union and the conditional recommendation for the visa liberalization regime. IBNA news agency correspondents in Pristina bring you the main stories of 2015 in the Republic of Kosovo.

Pristina, 30 December 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota-Muamer Mellova

January-February/Massive exodus of the citizens of Kosovo

January was the first month in officer for the new government in Pristina, which followed a six month deep political crisis. The new government, led by PM Isa Mustafa, entered office with many promises in the domains of economy, education, foreign policy, security and society. The governing platform between the two largest parties, LDK-PDK, was promising, but this didn’t reflect hope for the citizens of Kosovo, who, disappointed and without perspective, started to abandon the country to EU countries for a better life.

Young people started to leave in large numbers as a result of unemployment, poverty, discontent and lack of faith in the new government.

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March/100 days of Mustafa government in office, failure in all segments

In the month of March, PM Isa Mustafa presented the report for the work of the government in the first 100 days in office. Mustafa came up with a very disappointing presentation, justifying the failures with the political crisis occurred six months ago.

Mustafa promised that through the government program, he will build a democratic Kosovo, which will be ruled by the law, where the rights of everyone will be equally respected and also promised a government which promotes economic development, social welfare and market economy.

Opposition and analysts launched strong criticism about the first three months in office of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa’s government. They said that the wide governing coalition of the Democratic League of Kosovo and Democratic Party of Kosovo has not made any positive steps as far as economic development, reformation of the justice system, education and international recognitions are concerned.

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April/ The new round of talks for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia kicks off

In April, PM Isa Mustafa and that of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, held a meeting in Brussels for the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Both prime ministers reviewed progress in the implementation of the agreements that were reached before and discussed further steps for the normalization of relations. This meeting, which followed the one held on 9 February, when the two countries reached an agreement on the justice system, didn’t yield any results.

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May/Kosovo doesn’t mark a satisfying economic growth

Kosovo continued to face an unsatisfactory economic growth, which had an impact in the growth of poverty and unemployment.

Experts of economic developments say that the country awaits big challenges in the economic aspect. Meanwhile, government representatives consider 2015 as the year of welfare and economic stability.

Prominent analyst, Lulzim Tafa says that Kosovo awaits great challenges in the economic aspect in the future.

“If no adequate measures are taken to improve policies that encourage economic development, then we will have a more difficult economic situation, because we’re facing a high level of unemployment and poverty”.

Prominent professor of economics, Shpend Ahmeti, currently mayor of Pristina, says that Kosovo continues to be the poorest country with the highest unemployment in Europe. Ahmeti demands from the government to allocate a bigger project for agriculture, as it’s one of the fewest sectors of the country which can contribute to economic development.

Meanwhile, Agim Shahini, head of the Kosovo Business Agency, says that the government of Kosovo must allocate special funds which would help small and medium sized businesses.

Representatives of the government of Kosovo have a different opinion.

Deputy minister of Finance, Agim Krasniqi says that 2015 was a stable year with an economic growth of 3,8%.

According to him, there are four indicators that have an impact on this economic growth: consumption, Diaspora, improvement of export, agricultural sector and other sectors.

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June/ State Department: Kosovo has problems in respecting human rights

In June, the US State Department published a report relating to human rights in Kosovo during 2014. The report stated that the biggest problem in the domain of human rights relate to the actions to block the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. This includes the setting up of road blocks in the north of Mitrovica by Serb officials in Kosovo and restrictions of the freedom of movement and belief for Serb Orthodox pilgrims.

The second largest concern of the report relates to social discrimination against members of ethnic communities, disabled people, homosexuals and domestic violence.

In its report, the State Department also stressed the freedom of speech and press, underlining that public officials, politicians and business people have attempted to intimidate media representatives. Based on the report, media have also encountered difficulties in securing information from the government and public institutions, which have complicated even more by the lack of a government spokesperson.

The report states that Association of Journalists of Kosovo and other media organizations have reported several physical attacks and verbal threats against journalists.

In the part on corruption, the report states that the government has taken steps to criminally prosecute and convict officials who have abused with office, but adds that there are claims that senior officials who are involved in corruption, are not punished.

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July/Green light is given for investigation of “war crimes”

Parliament of Kosovo approved the constitutional amendments which gave way to the creation of the Special Tribunal for war crimes. This approval was also hailed by USA and EU.

Head of EU diplomacy, Federica Mogherini said that the approval of the Tribunal is a vital step in offering the necessary legal framework to address the serious allegations for crimes stated in the Council of Europe report.

Meanwhile, US ambassador to Kosovo, Greg Delawie said that the decision helps Kosovo’s international position.

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August/Mustafa: Association of Serb Communes is not an ideal solution

In the month of August, Kosovo and Serbia reached an agreement in Brussels for the setting up of the Association of Serb Communes in Kosovo. Prime Minister of Kosovo, Isa Mustafa said that the pact doesn’t damage the sovereignty of Kosovo.

“Association of Serb Communes is a good solution, but not an ideal one. We must not be afraid of giving rights to others, but we must be afraid if we abuse with our rights”.

Mustafa said that through the Association, Serb communes will have full access to education, healthcare, local economic development, urban infrastructural development.

Meanwhile, analysts in Pristina have given different opinions about this institution.

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September/Opposition warns massive protests to overthrow the government

Three opposition parties, Self Determination, Alliance for the Future of Kosovo and Incentive for Kosovo, holds protests with the aim of overthrowing the government.

protests

According to them, protests are the only way to stop “damaging projects for Kosovo” such as: Association of Serb Communes, Special Tribunal and border demarcation with Montenegro.

Self Determination MP, Albulena Haxhiu accused the government of “trying to make Republic of Kosovo dysfunctional, therefore we are responding with massive protests”. According to the opposition, “the creation of the Association is dangerous”

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October/Opposition lets off teargas in Parliament

Autumn was filled with protests and violent actions by the opposition against the government of Kosovo. The opposition used teargas in the Parliament house in several occasions and has made it impossible for parliamentary proceedings to continue.

Three opposition parties, Self Determination, Alliance for the Future of Kosovo and Incentive for Kosovo declare that they will allow proceedings in parliament to return to normality if the prime minister of Kosovo, Isa Mustafa withdraws the signatures that he has put on the agreement for the Association of Serb Communes and border demarcation with Montenegro.

Founder of Self Determination, Albin Kurti said that if the government doesn’t withdraw from the Brussels’ Agreement, the country will head to early parliamentary elections.

Association of Serb Communes continues to be the main source of the political crisis in Kosovo. Opposition has warned protests to stop this institution, which according to them, threatens the sovereignty of the country.

To ease tension, president of the country, Atifete Jahjaga sent the agreement on the Association to the Constitutional Court.

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November/Kosovo closer to the EU, SAA ratified

During the month of November, parliament of Kosovo ratified the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) signed with the EU, without the opposition votes.

PM Mustafa said that the ratification of SAA gives way to further integrating processes of Kosovo in the EU.

“Stabilization and Association Agreement lays the foundation of contractual relations between Kosovo and the EU. It is a very good opportunity to undertake reforms for the strengthening of the rule of law, creation of economic conditions, deepening of economic and commercial cooperation with EU member countries and Kosovo’s approach to European values and standards”.

See more here.

December/EU aims at lifting visas for Kosovo at the beginning of 2016

Following strong reactions of the government, Kosovo citizens received a strong signal by the EU that next year may mark the time when they travel without visas in Schengen countries.

On 20 December, EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, published the report which requires Kosovo to make a few extra efforts in order to benefit this much anticipated liberalization. He said that the European Commission may propose for the lifting of visas at the start of 2016.

See more here. /ibna