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Blerand Stavileci

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 Blerand Stavileci Biography

The Government of the Republic of Kosovo, as a democratic government, welcomes the publication of all international and domestic reports that relate to the evaluation of the performance of state institutions and the level of democracy in our society.

Furthermore, the Government of the Republic of Kosovo values all constructive and sound criticism offered which aims to improve the situation in specific areas of governance.

But, the Government of the Republic of Kosovo also cannot accept assessments which are incorrect, tendentious or entirely based on the personal perceptions of particular individuals who directly or indirectly draft various reports about Kosovo.

In this respect, the Government of the Republic of Kosovo considers inaccurate, unfounded and biased the latest report published by Freedom House in its “Nations in Transit” according to which Kosovo is ranked among the countries with a semi consolidated authoritarian regime. The author of this report failed to maintain the minimum professional seriousness and political neutrality when drafting the report. The fact that this author assesses Kosovo at the same level as dictatorial countries which do not hold free elections, do not have political pluralism, have no freedom of the media or freedom of expression, where political opponents and journalists are imprisoned and murdered, where power is a family inheritance, where there is no accountability, no transparency and no public responsibility and where the difference between the state and the regime is almost invisible, speaks volumes about the lack of professionalism and the open bias against the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, at a time when the European Union and the entire international community has formally praised Kosovo’s achievements, not just declaratively, but with concrete decisions, such as for example, ending the supervision of Kosovo’s Independence and the European Commission’s Feasibility Study.

A large number of references that supposedly support this report are simply quotes from political stakeholders made for personal reasons and cannot be taken as primary sources because they lack factual evidence and empirical comparison to other countries in the Balkans. The Government of the Republic of Kosovo knows that this report does not just assess the government’s work, but that of all Kosovo’s institutions in general, but we cannot agree with a baseless report that lumps Kosovo together in the category of authoritarian states. There is no doubt that Kosovo has made extraordinary progress in 2012 and this has been stated not just by the Kosovo Government, but also by the entire international spectrum involved in the Balkans, including significant advancement and improvement noted, such as that of the World Bank’s doing business, and the findings of the International Steering Group in September 2012, etc.

  1. Democratic governance: The report states that there has been no improvement in democratic governance in Kosovo, without providing a single reason or fact to support this claim.

This assessment is not true and does not reflect the reality. In fact, last summer, as a result of the improvement of democratic governance in all areas of governance and as an outcome of the increasing of institutional capacities in Kosovo, the international community unanimously decided to end the phase of supervision of independence. This fact, that represents international consensus about the institutional progress of the Republic of Kosovo, is the best evidence that the claim in this report is totally unsustainable.

  1. Electoral processes: The report states that there was no improvement in electoral processes.

This claim is unfounded. Reforms to the electoral process and its management are a shared priority of all political parties in Kosovo. During the reporting period, two electoral cycles have been held at the municipal level in Ferizaj and Kaçanik, which are assessed as regular by international and domestic observers and their results were accepted by all political parties participating in the process. This fact is sufficient.

  1. Civil society: The report states that the Government proposed a Law on the Central Bank and Micro financial Institutions, which enabled the Central Bank to privatize 17 micro financial institutions that operate as NGOs and to transfer their capital of 100 million Euros to private owners.

This is unfair. This Law was approved by the deputies of the Kosovo Assembly with an absolute majority of votes. Furthermore, the recommendation for such a law came from international financial institutions and shareholder organizations which had financed many of these micro financial institutions, including EBRD, in order to maintain legal accountability and transparency regarding the management of their funds.

In the same chapter, the report makes an illogical connection to the elections at the University of Prishtina “Hasan Prishtina”. In addition, the report introduces erroneous information regarding this issue, since the Rector Ibrahim Gashi did not hold a political post at the time of his election, as he had resigned from his political post before entering the electoral process.

The report states that the Government continues to exercise influence through accreditation bodies for private institutions. Furthermore, the report states that educational institutions, owners of universities or professors who do not agree with government policies face addition problems during accreditation and have been refused licenses. This is an offensive claim. The report entirely fails to provide evidence for this serious charge, neither providing legal denunciation, or empirical data, or any name or evidence, except anonymous conversations in cafes in town, which it is clear, is the author’s preferred method.

  1. Independent media: The report criticizes the country’s institutions for articles 37, 38 and 39 of the Kosovo Criminal Code for alleged abuse of the courts to put pressure on journalists.

We remind you that the Criminal Code was voted for with a majority by the Kosovo Assembly and it was the President and Government which undertook the necessary steps to return it and remove the contested articles. The country’s institutions have worked independently and without interference in this case. In fact, the position of the Kosovo Government was in alignment with the position expressed by media and civil society representatives.

  1. Local democratic governance: Without any evidence, the report states that the Government has not tried to extend its own authority in the north of Kosovo.

This claim has absolutely no basis! Last year, the Kosovo Government opened an Administrative Office in the north, which operates according to the legislation of the Republic of Kosovo and where thousands of citizens from the north have received services. Furthermore, the report fails to mention the achievement of an agreement in the technical dialogue, including that for the Integrated Border Management, in which for the first time since the declaration of independence of Kosovo, Kosovo’s institutions have been fully present and registered all entries and exits and have collected all taxes foreseen by the country’s laws.

  1. Framework and independence of the judiciary: The report stated among other things that the judiciary continues to operate under severe political influence and that it has failed to deal with cases of high level political corruption. This statement is incorrect and unfounded on legal evidence. Kosovo is a democratic country and therefore Kosovo's judiciary is separate and independent from the executive.

Moreover, it is untrue that the Kosovo judiciary has not opened cases against top political officials at the central and local levels for a series of different charges. The truth is that there are dozens of prosecutions of suspects for various illegal acts which are in various stages of processing. Just this week a trial finished involving senior health officials who received a judicial verdict.

Also we consider that it is unacceptable that a report that claims to be credible includes insinuations about the nature of the tragic death of the head of the board of the Privatization Agency. The author intentionally misrepresents this family tragedy as a "mysterious suicide" when local and international investigators have concluded professionally and legally that it was a suicide.

Among other things, the report states that the Kosovo Judicial Council and the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council has no competence in budget allocation. The Kosovo Ministry of Finance prepares the budget of Kosovo only after receiving specific requirements and budget forecasts from difference units and agencies, including the KJC and KPC and according to the laws in force, the MF and the Government are the final sponsors of the draft budget that is finally approved by the Assembly Kosovo.

  1. Corruption: The report says that the fight against fraud and corruption has continued throughout the year without noticeable results and remains one of Kosovo’s greatest challenges. This statement is also incorrect. During the reporting year there were open proceedings against officials at all levels, including senior members of the government, who were charged with various offenses.

We are concerned by the tendency of the author of the report to consider any attempt at privatization a priori as something negative in itself and privatization opponents as an oppressed party. This trend is totally against the principle of the free market advocated by Freedom House.

Kosovo has so far privatized assets through a process designed according to international best practices, and in specific cases, like the power distribution, privatization was the only way to save hundreds of millions of Euros of public money spent on maintenance of unprofitable enterprises. All privatization processes have so far been monitored by the international community and are regarded as transparent.

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