Tension and political crisis
Year 2016 was not a good year for the Republic of Kosovo. The lack of political consensus and immature actions harmed democracy and the image of the country in front of international partners.
The political crisis started during the cold January, when the opposition started massive protests against the governing coalition between the two largest parties, LDK and PDK and their decision on Demarcation with Montenegro and the Association of Serb Communes.
Besides the violent protests, last year, opposition parties often blocked parliamentary proceedings, throwing teargas and by undertaking other violent actions against the government, which according to them, was threatening the integrity and sovereignty of the country.
The leader of the opposition, Visar Ymeri said that the protests were being held against the government which had lost its legitimacy, violating and avoiding the Constitution of Kosovo.
Ymeri and other opposition representatives have addressed serious accusations for the involvement of government representatives in crime and corruption.
Meanwhile, the opposition’s activities were strongly condemned by the heads of state and foreign ambassadors accredited to Kosovo.
Prime Minister of Kosovo, Isa Mustafa condemned the acts of violence against institutions, public properties, citizens and state police.
President of the country, Hashim Thaci, who was also elected following strong opposition protests, considered these reactions as war for power and not a national cause.
Strong reactions were also issued by western diplomats in Pristina, who considered the protests and the violence as non democratic means to solve the political gridlock.
However, in 2016, Kosovo’s institutions concluded 2016 without delivering some of the top priorities that they had claimed, especially the liberalization of the visa regime, accession of the country in international organizations and the creation of Armed Forces.
During 2016, Kosovo didn’t see any major success in the domain of economy. Although government officials had promised the creation of over 100 thousand jobs and growth of competition and export of Kosovo’s products, the results were poor. Trade deficit continued to accompany Kosovo’s economy, while foreign investments didn’t see a growth.
The head of the American Chamber of Kosovo (OEAK), Arian Zeka says that the current government has taken important measures to help the economy of the country, but according to him, these measures are insufficient.
Zeka says that Kosovo’s economic development must rely on real potentials, which consist of Kosovo’s natural resources.
The head of the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce, Safet Gerxhaliu says that Kosovo will continue to face many economic challenges, that generate social, political and integrating problems.
The government coalition, Kosovo’s Democratic League and Democratic Party of Kosovo, started its governing term in office two years ago.
During the campaign, PM Isa Mustafa had promised that 120 thousand jobs would be created and according to economy experts, 125 people a day had to be employed in order to achieve this figure.
However, statistics show that in the past two years, around 15 thousand people have been employed.
Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia
17 years after the war, Kosovo and Serbia still have a lot to do in order to achieve good neighboring relations. The talks for the normalization of relations between the two countries, which started in 2011, have not yielded the expected results.
In 2016, the relations between the two countries saw deterioration as a result of Serbia’s failure to implement the agreements that had been reached. Association of Serb Communes and the wall built by the Serbs of the north of Mitrovica, sparked tension and strong debates in Kosovo and Serbia.
However, president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci and PM Isa Mustafa didn’t give up on this process which is being negotiated by the European Union.
According to them, reconciliation between Kosovo and Serbia must happen one day and that the two countries must not be stuck in the past.
Minister for Dialogue, Edita Tahiri said that the talks for the normalization of relations with Serbia have strengthened Kosovo’s international position.
Meanwhile, Kosovo’s opposition has launched strong accusations about the framework and the content of the dialogue.
The head of Self Determination Parliamentary Group, Glauk Konjufca said that through these talks, government of Kosovo could not achieve the objectives that it proclaimed in 2011.
“At that time, the government of Kosovo had to objectives: integrate the north of Kosovo and speed up European integration processes. None of these objectives has been delivered through the talks. I can even say that the situation has deteriorated in 2016 and we’re risking Mitrovica’s division from Serb parallel structures”.
In 2017, Special Court on war crimes in Kosovo will proceed based on principles of justice and without being political influenced, but the people that will be indicted and the rulings of this court may shock the political arena in Kosovo.
The Chief Special Prosecutor, David Schwendiman, told authorities in the country that he’s expecting to have their support in this process.
He has stressed his independent role and said that his work will only be driven by facts. He also said that the work of the Special Chambers is not aimed at targeting any organization or ethnic group.
The Special Court and the Special Court Chamber are part of Kosovo’s judicial system, based in Hague and international staff will work in this institution.
This court has a temporary nature and its mandate is to try allegations of crimes against humanity from 1 January 1998 until 31 December 2000, crimes which have been allegedly committed by members of KLA on ethnic minorities and political opponents.
As of next year, Specialized Chambers will handle materials which are part of the Dick Marty report, ratified by the European Council.
Stabilization and Association Agreement
A year ago, Kosovo established for the first time contractual relations with the European Union by signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement.
The implementation of this agreement, which guarantees mutual free movement of goods, services, people and capital, will lead Kosovo toward the European integration.
The head of the EU office in Kosovo, Nataliya Apostolova, said that the agreement in question has brought many benefits, but also many obligations.
According to her, Kosovo must work a lot in order to deliver economic and political criteria and fully implement the agreement’s provisions.
Professor of European Law, Muhamer Pajaziti told IBNA that the implementation of SAA is a good opportunity for Kosovo in delivering the reforms and in creating opportunities for commerce, investments and access to EU funds.
“The beginning will be difficult, because in the absence of competition, Kosovo will increase trade deficit. There will also be losses in the customs system due to the lifting of taxes. But these taxes will be covered by 650 million euro EU aid”, he said. /balkaneu.com/