European Commission warns of political instability in Kosovo

NEWS 19.10.2021 18:59
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Source: REUTERS/Yves Herman

Legislative activities, including reform efforts were limited due to political instability in Kosovo, the European Commission said in its latest progress report.

It said that the instability included early elections following a Constitutional Court ruling which invalidated the election of a government in June 2020 and the indictment and arrest of President Hashim Thaci on war crimes charges. “The polarised political atmosphere, the lack of an effective government majority and the lack of a quorum severely affected decision-making in the Assembly,” the report said.

“The situation in the north of Kosovo remains challenging, in particular in terms of corruption, organised crime, and the conditions for freedom of expression,” the report said.

It added that no progress was achieved in reforming the public administration. “A renewed commitment to public administration reform is urgent,” it said.

“The overall administration of justice continues to be slow, inefficient and vulnerable to undue political influence but some progress was made,” it said.

According to the report, Kosovo made limited progress in fighting corruption and organized crime and needs to make sustained effort in terms of investigations, court rulings and the confiscation of assets. “Measures are needed to strengthen the prosecution as well as to ensure that there is no political interference in the operational activities of all law enforcement bodies,” it said.

The report noted progress in fighting terrorism in line with the objectives set out in the EU-Kosovo implementing arrangement for the Joint Action Plan on counter-terrorism for the Western Balkans, especially with regard to the rehabilitation and reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters and their families. “The Kosovo authorities need to be more effective in their efforts to combat money laundering and the applicable law should be brought in line with EU acquis and with international standards,” it added.

The legal framework broadly guarantees the protection of human and fundamental rights in line with European standards. However, additional efforts remain needed to fully implement it and to improve coordination and oversight of fundamental rights policies and legislation.

Concerns remain in terms of freedom of expression because of public smear campaigns, threats and assaults on journalists, it said and added that the media remain vulnerable to political and business interests as well as the public broadcaster.

Kosovo has made limited progress and is at an early stage of developing a functioning market economy.

“Kosovo maintained overall good relations with Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia. There has been no change in

Kosovo’s formal relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, which does not recognise Kosovo’s independence,” the report said and added that Kosovo needs to engage constructively in normalizing relations with Serbia and make further substantial efforts on the implementation of all past agreements and contribute to reaching a comprehensive legally binding normalisation agreement.
Kosovo needs to improve its administrative capacity and coordination, across all sectors, to achieve effective implementation of the EU acquis.