International Conference on the challenges of the European integration of Kosovo: regional cooperation and neighborly relations

On 24 May 2017, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) and Institute GAP – in cooperation with the Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe (CFA) and French Institute for Foreign Relations (IFRI) –  have organized an International Conference on the topic: “The challenge of the European integration of Kosovo: regional cooperation and neighborly relations”, held in Prishtina. On April, 1st 2016, the Stability and Association Agreement between Kosovo and the European Union entered into force, marking a major step towards Kosovo’s political and economic convergence and candidate status. This agreement is the first contractual link between Kosovo and the Union, although it still leaves the question of the non-recognition of the country by five Member States unresolved. In addition to necessary political and economic reforms in public administration, the rule of law, human rights and the protection of minorities as well as free trade, the European integration of Kosovo implies an emphasis on regional cooperation and good neighborly relations. This emphasis in the EU’s approach to Kosovo is supported by all Member States. During the event, panelists had the chance to discuss the way forward and challenges encountered during the EU integration process, the progress achieved by the Kosovo government and regional cooperation and neighborly relations of Kosovo with other Western Balkan countries, seen as essential to Kosovo’s European integration. The first panel focused on the progress and challenges of the European integration process, as well as the Stabilization and Association Agreement, its benefits and obligations for Kosovo. While the second panel focused on the regional cooperation, peace building and relations among countries in the region. The conference was attended by numerous member state ambassadors, government officials, experts, civil society and media. The conference was supported by the Embassy of Austria and the Embassy of France in Kosovo.

 Keynote Speakers:

  1. Michael Linhart – Secretary General, Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, Vienna;
  2. Nataliya Apostolova – Head of EU Office in Kosovo / EU Special Representative;
  3. Anila Statovci-Demaj – Deputy Minister for European Integration to the Republic of Kosovo;
  4. Piero Cristoforo Sardi – Italian Ambassador to the Republic of Kosovo.

Panel 1: Taking stock: The European integration of Kosovo – driving forces and pitfalls

  1. Florent MARCIACQ, Programme Director, Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe, Vienna;
  2. Jeton MEHMETI, Research Director, GAP Institute, Pristina;
  3. Albana MERJA, Research Fellow, Group for Legal and Political Studies, Pristina;
  4. Jean-Arnault DÉRENS, Editor in Chief, Le Courrier des Balkans.

Panel 2: Kosovo in its regional space – regional cooperation and neighborly relations

  1. Tobias FLESSENKEMPER, Senior Fellow and Balkans Project Director, Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE), Berlin;
  2. Ardian HACKAJ, Director, Cooperation & Development Institute, Tirana;
  3. Jelica MINIĆ, President of the Forum for International Relations, European Movement Serbia, Belgrade;
  4. Zlatko VUJOVIĆ, President of the Governing Board, Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI), Podgorica;
  5. Lura POLLOZHANI, Centre for South East European Studies (CSEES), University of Graz.

 

Venue: Hotel Swiss Diamond, Prishtina, Kosovo.

GLPS and EPC co-organize a Policy Dialogue: “Kosovo and the European Union – What next?”

Group for Legal and Political Studies in cooperation with the European Policy Centre (EPC) have organized a Policy Dialogue on the topic: “Kosovo and the European Union – What next?”, held in Brussels. Kosovo is making headway in its efforts to draw nearer to the European Union. Just last year, the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU entered into force, Pristina adopted a list of priorities – the so-called European Reform Agenda – meant to help the implementation of the SAA, and the European Commission proposed visa liberalisation for Kosovo. In parallel, since the beginning of the EU-mediated talks between Pristina and Belgrade in 2011, the two sides have reached important agreements aimed at normalising their relations. Kosovo is now eager to advance even further on its EU track. But to do so, it must first deliver on the reform commitments assumed to date. Recent bilateral tensions with Serbia, which brought the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue to an effective halt, as well as the parliamentary impasse reached in the implementation of Kosovo’s border demarcation deal with Montenegro are not helping Kosovo move forward. Moreover, the refusal of five EU member states to recognise Kosovo’s independence continues to call into question Kosovo’s eligibility for EU accession. What are the key legal and political obstacles in the way of Kosovo’s European integration and how can they be overcome? How can Kosovo ensure meaningful progress on its EU-related reform agenda, where does Kosovo stand from a Balkan regional perspective, what more can the EU do to help Kosovo in its quest for EU membership were some of the topics discussed during the event. Short presentations and exchanges with the panel were followed by an interactive discussion with the audience.

Panelists:

Ms. Ulrike Lunacek – Vice President, European Parliament

Mr. David Cullen – Head of Unit, D3 – The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, DG Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission

Mr. Augustin Palokaj – Brussels Correspondent for Koha Group

Mr. Fisnik Korenica – Senior Research Fellow, Group for Legal and Political Studies, Kosovo

Ms. Corina Stratulat – Senior Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre (Moderator)

 

 

Venue: EPC Conference Centre (3rd floor), Rue du Trône 14-16, 1000 Brussels

GLPS held a Seminar for CSOs in Kosovo on Effective Monitoring of Public Policies

On 10-11 May 2017, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) has organized two-day seminar for the Civil Society Organizations in Kosovo on the topic: “Effective Monitoring of Public Policies” The aim of the seminar was to familiarize the civil society organizations in Kosovo with the process of drafting and monitoring of public policies, with a special focus on local level, WeBER PAR Methodology, indicator for monitoring PAR, as well as the WeBER monitoring methodology. The event was attended by more than 25 representatives from the civil society organizations in Kosovo and participants had the opportunity to actively interact with the experts and discuss among them the above-mentioned topics. The first day of the seminar included Policy monitoring and writing, the participants discussed the aspects of research and monitoring methodologies on PAR, indicators, as well as policy writing aspects. The last session included the presentation of the WeBER PAR Monitor Methodology.  On the following day, the discussion focused on the indicators of the PAR methodology and their developments, followed by practical exercises on this matter. The third day of the seminar is expected to take place on the 23 of May.

This activity was organized within the framework of the WeBER Project, funded by the European Union and co-financed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Speakers:

Ms. Corina Stratulat – Senior Research Fellow, European Policy Centre (EPC), Brussels;

Ms. Simonida Kacarska – Executive Director, European Policy Institute (EPI), Skopje;

Ms. Stasa Lukic – Senior Project Manager, Centre for European Policy (CEP), Belgrade;

Ms. Bardha Maxhuni – Research Fellow, Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS).

 

 

Venue: Hotel Emerald, Prishtina, Kosovo.

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.

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).