Thursday, November 24, 2005

Situation of human rights and of minorities in Kosovo

By: Nazmi Fejza, the Deputy Minister for Communities and Return in Kosovo government

The determination of Kosovo citizens for a democratic, functional and progressive state for all citizens, irrespective of ethnicity or religion can be clearly seen in all its institutions, laws, and resolutions passed by the Parliament, in the government’s program, as well as in the municipal programs.

Kosovo had two fair parliamentary elections evaluated highly by the international community, in which all its citizens and political entities could participate and represent their interests. Regardless of this fact, 20 out of 120 seats in the Parliament were reserved for non-Albanian communities, in addition to the seats they won during the elections, which is a unique case in the region.

I also need to emphasize that during this period, the Parliament has approved a large number of laws and resolutions, which are in the interest of all Kosovo citizens.

The ethnic structure of Kosovar MPs, except Serbs, reflects the ethnic structure of Kosovar citizens. So majority of them are Albanians, but there are also MPs representing Turkish, Bosniac, Askali, Roma, Egyptian, Goran and Serb communities.

The minorities make almost 12% of employees in the public sector and our goal is to increase this rate up to 16.6% by the end of this year. But the boycotting Kosovar institutions from the side of Serb community has made difficult for us to achieve this goal.

It is difficult to talk for full respect of human rights, when according to the World Bank assessments over 52% of people here live in poverty.

The level of human and community rights protection varies from the aspects of life and work. We have not a desirable progress over these rights in the areas where the competences are reserved for internationals (UNMIK and KFOR), such as in security, justice, socially owned and publicly owned property management, etc.

The negligence of Kosovo Trust Agency in the privatization process did not allow those who were earlier employed to get back their jobs, whereas the legal right over the 20% of the sold enterprise that belongs to workers is being realized with long delays.

The aspects of security and freedom of movement is below its normal and desirable level, regardless of the progress achieved. We have several parallel institutions in Serb enclaves, especially in the north of Mitrovica. This happens because of UNMIK and KFOR hesitation to control the entire territory of Kosovo, for what they are also obliged by the UNSC resolution.

The citizens who are in small numbers there do not have their essential right of electing or being elected in the municipal authority structures. I am talking for the residents of Koshtova, Bistrica, Cerraja in Leposavic municipality and for the residents of villages Kelmend, Zhazha and Boletin in Zvecan.

Each political entity and each community had its opportunity to elect its representatives in the Municipal Assembly. However we should emphasized a case in the Municipality of Mitrovica in 2002, when Special Representative has invalidated the free vote of the citizens.

Great progress in the area of human and community rights has been achieved in the area of education, whereas the health sector has gone through a good transformation, for the good of all the citizens.

The fact that radios and televisions in Kosovo broadcast programs in Albanian, Serbian, Bosniac, Turkish and Roma language shows the great progress that has been made in the area of information, without going through a deep analysis of program schedule.

There area 26 radios in Serbian language in Kosovo. Only in Gracanica, an area with some 3500 residents, there are three radio stations in Serbian.

Serbs make up the largest number of employees in the Ministry of Communities and Return (MCR), headed by the Serb Minister, Slavisa Petkovic. MCR in cooperation with other partners in the Working Group for Return (including UNMIK, UNHCR and KFOR) have prepared the Strategic Framework for Return for 2005.

In order to improve the further implementation of human rights and rights of communities:

1. We need to intensify the process of final status settlement, Independence of Kosovo, so the citizens could understand that they need to address their problems in Prishtina and not in Belgrade.

2. We need to create new ministries and to see a power handover to locals in the area of police and justice, which is necessary.

3. Government and political leaders should work persistently with citizens from all the communities in democratization of the Kosovo society.

4. We need to reform the election system, and together with it to ensure an affordable representation of all communities, in central and local level.

5. We need to continue the process of reconciliation between the communities, which has become worsened because of war and Serbian suppressing policy in Kosovo.

6. Kosovo government institutions, including the Presidency, Parliament and the Government should permanently prove that they are determined to establish good neighboring relations and that they strongly support the regional stability.

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