Assessment of the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2017

Given that sustainable development and combating corruption is of crucial importance for a well-functioning democracy, this Policy Report aims to monitor the implementation of Kosovo’s Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2017. The Report highlights the progress of the Kosovo institutions in the political and rule of law sectors and assesses their efforts towards adequately implementing measures/actions set out in the Strategy. This Report also identifies the institutional failures, achievements, and challenges associated with the full implementation of the Strategy, and reflects on the preparedness of Kosovo institutions to combat corruption and promote anti-corruption actions. The following sections of this study are organized as follows: Section 2 provides an overview of the drafting, assessment and challenges of the Anti-Corruption Strategy and (Revised) Action Plan. Section 3 details the methodology utilized for this study. The achievements, challenges and failures that materialized during the monitoring process are presented in a matrix in Section 4. Section 5 interprets the overall institutional achievements vis-a-vis the implementation of the Strategy, focusing specifically on the political and rule of law sectors. The last section offers a conclusion and policy recommendations that can further enhance Kosovo’s capacity in the fight against corruption. To access the Policy Report, please click here.

Four Years after the April Agreement: How effective is the political dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia?

On 19 April 2017, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) held a Roundtable Discussion on the topic: “Four Years after the April Agreement: How effective is the political dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia?”, held in Prishtina. The aim of this event was to discuss the achievements and challenges of the Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. At the beginning of the discussion, GLPS presented a Policy Note entitled ‘Association of Serb Majority Municipalities in Kosovo – Association Impasse’ which analyzes the overall path of the political dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia during these four years and identifies the challenges encountered during the implementation of the certain agreements reached in Brussels. Furthermore, the Policy Note addresses the current challenges of this process, its impact on the parties involved, in terms of trust, as well as the EU enthusiasm to continue further with this process. In the Policy Note, the author of the paper, Mr. Bajrami argues that despite the support from the international mechanisms for the dialogue process, the parties remain in political deadlock due to fact that the EU has not taken a more hands-on role in clarifying and implementing the agreements reached so far. On the other hand, Prime Minister Mustafa focused on the achievements of this process, such as the functioning of the Kosovo customs and the police in the Northern part of Kosovo, and reiterated the fact that the agreements reached so far are all in compliance with the Kosovo Constitution.  This dialogue that is being facilitated by the European Union has been promoted as one of the main objectives of the EU foreign policy, while both Kosovo and Serbia seem to have many disagreements with the objectives and the actual dynamics of this process. “We believe it is in the national interest of Kosovo, first, to solve open issues with Serbia through normalization of relations which we define as visible and sustainable improvement of relations aimed at improving the lives of people. Second, to improve relations within Kosovo between Serbs and Albanians in a mutually agreeable way. And third, to help Kosovo achieve progress on its European path”, stated Ms. Apostolova, the Head of the EU Office in Kosovo/EU Special Representative. In addition, this roundtable analyzed the impact that this dialogue has had over the past years, in terms of building of a solid relation between Kosovo and Serbia. In general, participants had the chance to discuss the dialogue agenda and the Kosovo government strategy towards this process. This events gathered institutional representatives, member states ambassadors, field experts, civil society and media. To access the Policy Note, please click here.

Panelists:

Mr. Isa Mustafa – Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo;

Ms. Nataliya Apostolova – Head of the EU Office in Kosovo/EU Special Representative in Kosovo;

Mr. Agron Bajrami – Editor-in-Chief at Koha Daily and Author of the Policy Note.

Venue: Hotel Sirius (Castor Hall), Prishtina, Kosovo.

ASSOCIATION OF SERB MAJORITY MUNICIPALITIES IN KOSOVO – Association Impasse

Four years ago in Brussels, on April 19th 2013, Kosovo and Serbia reached the “First agreement on principles governing the normalization of relations”. Widely known as The Brussels Agreement, the deal was reached through EU mediation. The agreement was immediately hailed as “historic” by EU, while there was unconditional praise from all sides, including UN. The exaltation was so high, there were even suggestions that the signatories of the agreement – then EU High representative Catherine Ashton, then Prime Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, and then Prime Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic – should be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. The cornerstone of the Brussels Agreement was the creation of the Association of Serb-Majority Municipalities in Kosovo, an institution tying together ten Serb-majority Kosovo municipalities. Six out of 15 points of the Agreement relate to the establishment, scope and functions of the proposed “Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo”, with this dual label as “Association/Community” reflecting different interpretations of the mandate this body will have. Since before the Agreement, the Government of Kosovo has continuously insisted that the Association will be nothing more than just an NGO, while the Government of Serbia has insisted it will be an autonomous entity that will have, as then prime minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic insisted – “key competencies” in governing itself. The EU facilitator continuously refused to clarify such differences of interpretation, to some extent because it did not want to take up the role of a mediator and thus share responsibility for implementation of the reached agreements, but also because what was labeled “constructive ambiguity” was necessary in order to reach the deals. The Association was accepted by the Kosovo government in return for the dismantlement of all the illegal Serbian security structures in the North as well as Serb participation in Kosovo elections. However, the First Agreement was just a framework that required further steps for the Association of Serb majority municipalities to be established. Hence, more than two years later, on August 26th 2015, at a dialogue round hosted by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, the Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Serbia, Isa Mustafa and Aleksandar Vucic, respectively, agreed on “the general principles and the main elements of the Association/Community of Serb majority municipalities, which paves the way for its establishment”. At this meeting, they also agreed on the implementation of the energy agreement and the Action Plan for Telecoms (which were both parts of the First Agreement and already should have been completed two years earlier, in June 2013), as well as on arrangements for the Mitrovica Bridge. As in most other cases, these agreements were not implemented in a timely manner. Apart from the Association Agreement, the implementation of the other three deals never met the agreed deadline: After an escalation in December 2016, when the municipality of Mitrovica North erected a wall behind the Mitrovica Bridge, the “revitalization” agreement had to be renegotiated in order to avoid open Albanian-Serb confrontation in the divided town. The Agreement on Telecom was implemented almost one year later than envisaged while the Energy Agreement is still not implemented. To access the report, please click here.

 

Informational Conference on the Stabilization and Association Agreement held in Gracanica

On 28 March 2017, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) and Prishtina Institute for Political Studies (PIPS) organized an informational conference on the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) in the Municipality of Gracanica.  Gathering more than 20 participants, municipal officials and civil society had the chance to discuss the objectives, benefits and obligations deriving from this Agreement, with a special focus on the obligations, policy planning, monitoring and reporting on the municipal level. In addition, participants agreed that the SAA is of utmost importance for Kosovo and its citizens contributing to the path towards the European Integration. Therefore, both GLPS and PIPS found it crucial to help build capacities and general knowledge about the SAA, with a special focus on the municipal level. This is the fourth informational conference held under the framework of project entitled “Promoting the Stabilization Association Agreement and launching a public-discourse for Kosovo’s European Future”, financed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kosovo.

  1. Ms. Brankica Kostic – Head of the Municipal Assembly, Gracanica Municipality;
  2. Ms. Venera Ramaj – Rule of Law Advisor, the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Kosovo;
  3. Ms. Katerina Lopo – Policy Officer, EU Office in Kosovo/ EU Special Representative;
  4. Ms. Albana Merja – Research Fellow, Group for Legal and Political Studies;
  5. Mr. Ilir Mucaj – Head of Division, Environment, Energy and Transport, Ministry of European Integration.

Venue: Municipality Hall, Gracanica, Kosovo.

 

Challenges of the Justice System: Citizens’ dissatisfaction towards the performance of judges and prosecutors. Where does the problem stand?

On 10 March 2017, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) organized a Roundtable Discussion on the topic: “Challenges of the Justice System: Citizens’ dissatisfaction towards the performance of judges and prosecutors. Where does the problem stand?”, held in Prishtina. The aim of this event was to discuss the performance and the efficiency of the judiciary and prosecution in Kosovo. Moreover, the discussion served as an opportunity to analyze the identified challenges and difficulties of the work of judges and prosecutors, as well as citizens’ lack of satisfaction and trust towards the judicial system. At the beginning of the discussion, Group for Legal and Political Studies published the Second Edition of the Rule of Law Performance Index in Kosovo (hereinafter: RoLPIK), which serves as a tool to demonstrate the trend of performance, efficiency and independence of judiciary and prosecution. In addition, this Index assesses the perceived level of citizens’ satisfaction on the performance of rule of law institutions in Kosovo. It is of a great concern that the survey data shows that 24.8% of the respondents think that none of the rule of law institutions are able to perform tasks/responsibilities independently. This negative perception towards the independence of the judiciary and prosecution has increased compared to the data conducted in June 2016, where only 16.2% considered that these institutions aren’t independent.  In addition, the survey data portrays that 58.2% of respondents think that people with political influence are less likely to receive proper punishment by the law. In terms of fight against corruption, the data reflects a negative citizens’ perception toward the rule of law institutions, in specific to the judiciary and prosecution. Whereas, regarding the bribery, the data shows that 43.4% of respondents believe that employees of the rule of law institution are directly involved in receiving bribes.  Precisely, 77.9% of them perceive that the courts are the institution most affected by bribery, the prosecution followed by 69.4%, with 52.2% police and EULEX with 31.3%. In addition, only 4.7% and 3.6% perceive the judiciary and prosecution as competent institutions fighting corruption in Kosovo. In specific, 48.6% of citizens consider the Kosovo Police as the most active institution in effectively fighting corruption, followed by the media (19.1%) and the Anti-Corruption Agency (14.4%). Even in the case of reporting corruption, Police is the institution where citizens would most likely report corruption and crime cases, with 85.6%, in total. In conclusion, panelists highlighted that lack of professional staff and the low number of judges and prosecutors in comparison to the new cases received directly reflect in efficency of these institutions in resolving cases timely. Furthermore, rule of law institutions lack transparency and accountability, which are crucial towards improving the justice system overall. This discussion gathered representatives from all relevant rule of law institutions, judiciary and prosecution on central and local level, international community, civil society and media.

Panelists:

  1. Armend Zemaj – Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Legislation;
  2. Agron Qalaj – Prosecutor at the State Prosecutor Office;
  3. Idain Smaijli – Deputy Chair of the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council;
  4. Sami Kurteshi – Vetëvendosje;
  5. Betim Musliu – Kosovo Law Institute;
  6. Arton Demhasaj – Çohu;
  7. Albana Merja – Presenter of the report, GLPS.

 

Venue: Hotel Swiss Diamond, Marec Hall (Square Mother Theresa, 10000 Prishtina, Kosovo)

 

This project is financed by the project/program Democratic Society Promotion (DSP) – financed by the Swiss Cooperation Office in Kosovo (SCO-K) and managed by the Kosovo Civil Society Foundation (KCSF).  

 

One year after the entry into force of the SAA: Are we getting closer to the integration in the EU?

On 27 February 2017, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) hosted a Roundtable Discussion on the topic: “One year after the entry into force of the SAA: Are we getting closer to the integration in the EU?”, held in Prishtina.  The aim of this event was to discuss the progress in implementing the objectives deriving from the National Programme for Implementation of SAA (NIPSAA), highlight challenges identified, and discuss the role of key institutions responsible to implement the reforms stemming from the SAA, in the short term.  At the beginning of the event, GLPS presented some findings resulting from the monitoring of NIPSAA, conducted by GLPS in a one-year period. In addition, results of the monitoring process suggest lack of proactive coordination between institutions, capacities in drafting adequate laws and strategies in compliance with the EU Acquis, proper budget planning and, amongst others, lack of political will in achieving the objectives deriving from NIPSAA. During the debate, panelists reiterated the importance of the SAA as the first contractual agreement between Kosovo and the EU, and highlighted the need for an enhanced coordination among key institutions responsible to implement the measures envisaged in the NIPSAA.  At the end, concrete recommendations in relation to the role that the entire political and institutional spectrum, civil society and media should play, to ease its implementation and help increase the accountability of public institutions in this process.

Panelists:

  1. H.E. Ms. Angelika Viets – Ambassador, German Embassy in Kosovo;
  2. Ms. Mimoza Ahmetaj – Minister, Ministry of European Integration;
  3. Ms. Njomza Emini – Head of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration;
  4. Ms. Donika Kadaj Bujupi -Member, Parliamentary Committee on Stabilization and Association;
  5. Ms. Albana Merja – Presenter of the findings, Group for Legal and Political Studies

 

Venue: Swiss Diamond Hotel (Mother Theresa Square,  10000 Prishtina, Kosovo)