Can Europe Make It?: Opinion

Kosova’s Valentine Day: towards radical change on the day of love

The party of the ousted government hopes that the February 14 election results will defend Kosova’s democratic achievements and plans.

Kreshnik Ahmeti
8 February 2021, 2.12pm
The first meeting of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, February 2020. (Albin Kurti centre.)
Wikicommons/Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo. Some rights reserved.

At the end of the week of February 14, the citizens of the Republic of Kosova will be heading to the polls, to vote on a new Parliament. These elections come after the recent verdict of the Constitutional Court, regarding the legitimacy of Avdullah Hoti’s Government, voted on June 3, 2020. The Constitutional Court has stated that Hoti’s Government was not voted in with a majority of MP’s (61/120), since one of the MP’s that voted was already sentenced to over a year in prison by the Court of Appeals on corruption charges. This means that for seven months Kosova has been governed by an illegitimate and unconstitutional Government.

The unconstitutional Government formed by the right-wing LDK was established after overthrowing the social-democratic and reformist Government led by Albin Kurti of Lëvizja VETËVENDOSJE!. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, LDK in coordination with the other parties from the ancient regime, assisted by an intense fake news assault, and highly influenced and backed by Trump's former special emissary, Richard Grenell, brought down the Kurti Government and created an unconstitutional one. This was aimed at promoting a quick fix deal between Kosova and Serbia, as a foreign policy trophy for Trump’s electoral campaign. The governance over this period resulted in a record high numbers of infections and deaths of citizens by COVID-19, a dire social and economic situation, and in ongoing corruption.

For over two decades Kosova has been governed by the same political parties, in a variety of coalition combinations. Under the eyes of international missions, first the UN mission and afterwards the EU mission for the rule of law, this old guard of politicians has enriched themselves in a country that has stagnated economically and has regressed in its education and health systems. The main mechanism for this illegal enrichment was the process of privatization of State and Public Owned Enterprises. Through this dispossession project, around 80,000 workers were thrown out of their jobs by the new private owners and social and economic inequality has risen sharply.

With the reality of over 30% unemployment, only 1 in 8 women employed, a deteriorating health system, low quality of education in all levels and mass migration, Kosova needed an alternative to this establishment of the old elites. In 2010, Lëvizja VETËVENDOSJE! (LVV; Movement for Self-Determination) participated for the first time in the elections. As the only center-left political party in Kosova, LVV is the only party that has recorded constant growth since 2010. In the first part of the last decade, LVV grew to become the biggest opposition party, and in the second half of the decade, it won both of the parliamentary elections. Kosova is a rare case in the Balkans, where the opposition can win elections, but it cannot govern because of the state capture.

Kosova is a rare case in the Balkans, where the opposition can win elections, but it cannot govern because of the state capture.

In 2019 snap elections, LVV was running with Albin Kurti as a candidate for Prime Minister, while LDK was running with Vjosa Osmani. LVV won the elections with a small margin and in a coalition with LDK and ethnic minority parties, established the Kurti Government, which lasted for only 52 days, as a result of the institutional coup organized by LDK and the other parties of the old elites.

In the coming elections, Albin Kurti and Vjosa Osmani are running together on the list of LVV and the support of the citizens, measured by a number of domestic and international polls, has constantly been over 50% for LVV. That is why February 14 is not only considered by many Kosovans as election day, but it is also considered the day of the referendum on the choice between the old corrupt politicians and politicians of a new era.

During its brief tenure in 2020, the Government of LVV has laid the base for much needed deep reforms. After the 14th of February LVV will have the chance to continue that work on the new path of justice, development and equality for Kosova.

Jobs and Justice

The needs of our society revolve around two main concepts: Jobs and Justice. In order to create jobs and develop the economy we plan to push forward labor intensive investments, and to save our public and state own enterprises from their “financial bleeding.” Our diaspora is a strong pillar of our economy, but the issue is that our economy consumes and does not create added value. So, over a billion euros of remittances that are sent annually, ricochet immediately to other countries, since Kosova has a huge trade deficit.

We plan to channel these remittances towards investments which would add value to our economy and create jobs. Currently 98% of our businesses are micro, small and medium enterprises. These enterprises struggle to survive because they have to work for the high interest rates of the commercial banks, and not for their own profit. To tackle this issue we plan to establish a Development Bank which will provide low interest rate loans with long grace periods. This will support businesses as they strive to elevate themselves from small to medium and from medium to large enterprises. Also, we plan to dissolve the Privatization Agency, and create e Sovereign Fund which would report to the Parliament and which would manage all the state and public owned enterprises.

Justice is a prerequisite for the success of this plan for jobs.

Justice is a prerequisite for the success of this jobs plan. Kosova is a captured state and in order to implement deep reforms we need a strong and independent judiciary. Thus, we will start a vetting process which will vet the judiciary, heads of the Intelligence Agency of Kosova and the heads of the Police of Kosova. Without a fierce fight against corruption and a strong foundation for good governance, there can be no economic development and equality.

Dialogue with Serbia

Even though Kosova’s citizens have been suffering this difficult socio-economic reality, the old elites for a decade were preoccupied with the issue of the dialogue with Serbia. If we look at the results of this long process we understand that we’ve had too much dialogue. A decade of meetings and negotiations, and no benefits for the citizens. Currently, according to a series of international institution’s surveys, the dialogue with Serbia comes seventh in the list of priorities for the citizens of Kosova. Yet, it is an important issues that needs to be dealt with.

Prior to the dialogue itself, a dialogue about dialogue is required. We need a well prepared process that has the citizens as end beneficiaries. And for this, we need an internal dialogue for national consensus and an external one with the EU and the US to establish the framework for the dialogue with Serbia. The whole process should be implemented in the prism of two independent states with political and territorial sovereignty. A future agreement between the two states, based on values, principles and reciprocal respect, will have a positive impact in the whole region of the Western Balkans, which will help their states to progress towards integration in the EU, together and at the same time.

In times of rising right wing extremism, the possibility of a landslide victory of an leftist party such as LVV is a positive precedent in our era. A society that has been impoverished and excluded is striking back against an unjust system that has been established for two decades. This radical change will not be contained in Kosova, but it will echo throughout the region. Such were the cases in the protests of 1968 and the resistance against the genocidal regime of Milosevic. On February 14 besides celebrating the day of love, Kosova will also celebrate the day of democracy.

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