Terrible details have emerged about the killing in Frauenfeld, Switzerland. The alleged perpetrator, Fatmir T, severed his grandmother’s head. No English-language outlet reported on the crime.
It was reported by Swiss outlet 20 minutes. The cantonal police in Thurgau also told Blick: “When the forces arrived, the head had been separated from the body.”
Apparently Fatmir T did not leave the head of his grandmother in the apartment either. The police spokesman confirmed that the head of the victim has since been found however. When asked where and when, the police spokesman did not want to disclose more about the case “for reasons of tactical importance”.
After the murder, Fatmir left his cell phone at a police station. This happened “wordlessly”, according to media spokesman Matthias Graf. A connection to the homicide had not yet been established at this time. Graf explained: “The emergency call did not arrive until ten minutes later. There was no reason to detain the person.”
One must also keep in mind that people regularly people leave items at police posts, said Graf. “That’s not unusual,” he added.
But there have been rumours that Fatmir T even recorded his vile act on video. “The data on the mobile phone is currently being evaluated,” said Graf, but he declined to give more details.
On Wednesday morning, the 19-year-old suspect was arrested in Kloten in the vicinity of the airport. Whether he wanted to leave the country after the fact, is still unclear.
It may ease their way into the EU, but ethnically homogeneous states are a recipe for disaster. I know from my family history
The Balkans are boiling again. This time it’s because speculation is rife that Kosovo and Serbia may finally end their dispute and normalise their relations. Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaçi, and his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vučić, are said to be close to an agreement that would help stabilise the Balkans and open the doors for both countries to join the European Union. Negotiations are happening under the mediation of the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Ten years after Kosovo declared its independence, the last chapter of the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia would be closed.
It sounds like a fairytale. Two leaders who were on opposing sides in the 1998-1999 war that left thousands of Kosovar civilians killed, tens of thousands of homes burned and destroyed, more than a million people expelled and displaced – and which ended only after Nato intervened – would have suddenly conquered their hatreds and enmities for the sake of a better future for their people. A breakthrough at last?
On the contrary, it could turn into a nightmare. The deal under consideration is sometimes called a “border correction”, or an “exchange of territories”. Neither Thaçi nor Vučić have given much detail, but it seems that the agreement would see part of Kosovo’s northern territory, with a majority Serb population, joining Serbia; meanwhile part of southern Serbia, a region commonly known as Preshevo Valley, whose population is majority Albanian, would join Kosovo.
This land swap would result in fewer Serbs living in Kosovo and fewer Albanians in Serbia. Both countries would become more “ethnically pure”. Many people would have to leave their family homes and birthplaces. In short, there would be an exchange of populations, not just territories.
Why would Brussels even entertain the notion of supporting a plan that so deeply contradicts European values?
Charles Kupchan, former adviser to Barack Obama and now a professor at Georgetown University, has described the tentative plan as “peaceful ethnic cleansing”. Supportive of the land-swap idea, he believes “pragmatism needs to trump principle”. I beg to differ.
Creating ethnically homogenous territories and states (in short, getting rid of minorities) is hardly a new idea. In Kosovo, throughout history, it’s happened many times. And it has always left deep wounds that simply won’t heal. Almost every Kosovar has family stories to vouch for this. Here are mine.
The first goes back to the dying years of Ottoman rule in the Balkans. In 1877-8, my mother’s family was among tens of thousands of Albanians expelled from their homes in the village of Berjan i Poshtëm (Donje Brijanje in Serbian), located in today’s southern Serbia. Even now, during family gatherings, elder cousins recall the stories their grandfathers told – of houses, fields and graves they had to leave behind. Their expulsion was ethnic cleansing, made irreversible by the 1878 Congress of Berlin.
Another family story is from my late paternal grandfather. As a child, I would watch his tearful eyes and hear his deep voice trembling while he recalled a night in 1927 when he, his father and his elder brother had to leave their house and pastry shop in the town of Pravishte – now Eleftheroupoli, in eastern Greece. It happened as a consequence of a Greco-Turkish Lausanne agreement on population exchange. This was not their homeland, but it was all they had to provide for the family back in Kosovo. They were given only a few minutes to pack, there was no violence, everything was peaceful, as my grandfather would describe, years later. But it was ethnic cleansing, nonetheless.
Just a few minutes to leave was also what many Kosovar Albanians were given by Serb military and security forces, in March 1999, when Slobodan Milošević’s campaign of ethnic cleansing was in full swing. It was repressive, violent, bloody and criminal. Many were killed, most were expelled. Over a million people were turned into refugees, including almost all my mother’s family, descendants of those expelled from southern Serbia, 120 years earlier – as were many relatives on my father’s side, descendants of those who’d had to abandon the pastry shop in eastern Greece. I ended up as a refugee myself, in Macedonia. We were all victims of ethnic cleansing, and it took Nato’s intervention to reverse that.
I don’t think those supporting the Kosovo-Serbia land-swap idea aren’t aware of the risks. They just ignore the obvious. Ethnic cleansing is a crime, peaceful or not. Apart from being morally unacceptable and ultimately anti-European, the plan would also cause huge, long-term political and security instability across the entire region. If Kosovo and Serbia are allowed to swap territories and people, how could that be denied elsewhere? Many communities in the region dislike the state they live in: Serbs and Croats in Bosnia, Muslims in Serbia, Albanians in Macedonia, or even Hungarians in Slovakia and Turks in Cyprus.
That’s why many oppose the “solution” that is seemingly under consideration. In Kosovo, the land swap has been rejected by a majority of parliamentary parties as well as by the governing coalition. Kosovo’s status and borders derive from its independence in 2008, based on a plan proposed by the former Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari. That solution was found by the international court of justice to be in accordance with the law.
There is next to no support for Thaçi’s land swap among Kosovo Albanians. The deal wouldn’t be ratified by Kosovo parliament even if he were to sign it. And a majority of Kosovo Serbs are also against it, as it would mean many would end up “on the wrong side of the border”.
The border deal is also unacceptable for many western countries – notably Germany and the UK. Angela Merkel has made clear she rejects any border changes in the Balkans. “This has to be said again and again, because again and again there are attempts to perhaps talk about borders, and we can’t do that,” she warned in August.
So the real question for the EU is this: why would Brussels even entertain the notion of supporting a plan that so deeply contradicts European values, that is rejected by European capitals, and unwanted by most people on the ground? Federica Mogherini can and should provide some answers.
• Agron Bajrami is editor in chief of Koha Ditore, Kosovo’s leading newspaper
Three men and a woman are suspected in the Kosovar capital Pristina of planning Islamist attacks. Not only would they have targeted a Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo, but according to the indictment they also had plans for attacks in Belgium and France. Two of the four also have a Belgian passport.
The arrest of two people was already announced at the beginning of June. Since then, two more people have been arrested, and the whole group is now under suspicion. The French press agency AFP was able to inspect the deed of indictment.
The attack on a church in the Kosovar city of Mitrovica was the most concrete plan. That attack was thwarted by the arrest, as is stated in the indictment. In addition, there would also have been plans for attacks in two discotheques in the Serbian enclave of Gracanica and an attack against the NATO force in Kosovo (KFOR). There are also plans for attacks in France and Belgium, but without further specification.
The 26-year-old Bujar B. was arrested in September. He is considered the leader. He would have stated during the investigation that the intention was to “attack groups of people who came together for religious festivals”.
Bujar B. also has Belgian nationality. The same applies to the 26-year-old Gramos S., who was arrested in June. The 25-year-old Edona H. and the 26-year-old Resim K. were arrested that month.
According to the indictment, Bujar B. would also be one of the organizers of a thwarted attack against the Israeli national football team during a match in Albania in November 2016. In the meantime, eight other Islamists were convicted. They received cell sentences of up to ten years.
A tractor passes by power plant Kosovo B in the village of Obilic, Kosovo Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Millions of Europeans who arrived late to work or school have a good excuse an unprecedented slowing of the frequency of the continent’s electricity grid. The Brussels-based European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, or ENTSO-E, said Wednesday the problem began mid-January and affects 25 countries, from Portugal to Poland and Greece to Germany. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A withdrawal of financial support was announced by the World Bank on Wednesday for the construction of Kosovo’s newest power plant.
During an event held today with representatives of global civil society organizations in Bali, Indonesia, President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim confirmed that the international organization will not support a coal power plant in Kosovo.
The Kosovo government stated in 2015 that the Ministry of Economic Development reached an agreement with the World Bank and US company Contour Global that would pave the way to a contract for building the plant, which was dubbed Kosova e Re, New Kosovo.
In 2016, the World Bank told BIRN that they would only support the project after all relevant environmental, social, and technical analyses were conducted, and after consultations with the public and other shareholders.
Following a question by Visar Azemi, executive director of the Balkan Green Foundation, Kim said that the World Bank has made a very firm decision not to go forward with the coal power plant in Kosovo.
“We are required by our by-laws to go with the lowest cost option, and renewables have now come below the cost of coal. So without question, we are not going to do that,” he said.
After the Kosovo government signed a 1.3 billion euro-worth contract with Contour Global, the Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development, KOSID, said that “the project would undermine Kosovo’s European future,” and that the government should work on developing efficient energy in Kosovo.
Azemi had said that due to the high cost of its construction, if the plant were to be built, Kosovo citizens would have to pay 50 per cent more for their energy bills, and that there would be a significant impact on the environment due to the burning of lignite as fuel.
Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj said earlier this yearthat the plant had to be built despite environmental dangers, in order to produce energy locally.
“If we have to also import electricity, as some are suggesting, to buy electricity from neighbors, we all need to become refugees,” he said. “It is true that energy derived from coal is not as clean as other energies, it is not an alternative, but it is an advanced technology.”
In March of this year, Burim Ejupi from the Institute for Development Policy said that the negative impacts make the contract one of the most harmful that has been signed since 1999.
“If this contract comes to life, the state budget would be put under strain and many indispensable projects for Kosovo will not be able to happen, because there needs to be a focus on covering the costs of this billion-dollar investment,” he said.
With 93 yellow hard hats, each representing a lost life, protesters in Prishtina demanded a halt to workplace deaths in Kosovo and better conditions for workers overall.
Bearing numbered safety helmets, a few dozen protesters marched through Mother Teresa Boulevard to the government building in Prishtina, demanding improved working conditions on construction sites, and accountability for the 93 recorded cases of workplace deaths in the country in the past five years.
Called “The buildings are yours, the lives are ours,” the protest concluded with participants placing all the helmets on the guard rails that surround the government building.
“And if the government, or somebody else, decides to remove the helmets without our permission, they can be considered collaborators with the people responsible for these cases,” said Kushtrim Mehmeti, organizer of the protest, who emphasized that helmets will be added to for every future case.
Mehmeti, who is part of Beyond the Wall, an NGO based in Skenderaj that focuses on civic activism, said that the protest aims to convey the miserable conditions that workers deal with in Kosovo, and voice that there has been no progress towards solving the problem.
“As long as there is no result, something is going wrong. I request all people that are responsible for these deaths that they do something,” he said. “We’re in October, and 18 individuals have died [this year], and by December we may have [a statistic of] two deaths per month. I do not know how 2019 will be.”
He said that one of the most noteworthy shortcomings is the low number of inspectors who evaluate whether workplace conditions are up to par. According to Mehmeti, inspectors also often fall prey to bribery, which hinders improvement.
“One of the most concerning things is that the number of inspectors is 42. With 42 inspectors, they aim to cover the whole of Kosovo. We demand that there are more inspectors before 2019, and have more security for inspectors when they go and do their job, they shouldn’t be bought with a lunch, or a hamburger,” Mehmeti said.
Jusuf Azemi, head of Independent Syndicate of the Private Sector of Kosovo, said that country has had the highest number of workplace deaths in the region in the past years.
“Every year we have a tremendously high growth [in workplace deaths]. Most of them didn’t even have work contracts, and as such they have no institutional support,” he said.
Azemi said that, despite the presence of the Law on Labor in Kosovo, it is oftentimes not respected, and that institutions fail to open their ears to the advice and suggestions of the syndicates.
“We have said it before, our workers are being treated like slaves. I am convinced that in other countries in the region or elsewhere, if they had this figure, the minister [of labor] and maybe even the prime minister would recognize that these are human lives and we are losing them because we are not careful,” he said.
He said that change is only possibly through direct actions from responsible institutions, and that there are few positive signs of change at the moment.
“We receive the cases, we talk about it for a few days and we forget them. The worst is that many of them are breadwinners, and when their life ends, their families in a way also lose the right for social assistance, cases happen and we do nothing about them,” he said.
“We have followed these cases, and if they are won in court, they only got a symbolic sum of support and everything ends with that.”
Mehmeti invited protestors to join future gatherings in support of workers in Kosovo, saying that they will be more assertive.
“I say that this is a war situation, 18 people die in 10 months, something is not going well, I do not know why they consider this normal, and it is an extraordinary situation,” he said. I do not think that our future actions will be as peaceful as the one today, they will become rougher, and we ask that our lives are protected.”
In photos: Music, dance and rainbow flags accompany citizens in Prishtina’s centre as they march for the country’s second ever pride parade on Wednesday.
Hundreds of citizens from Kosovo and the region gathered in the centre of Prishtina for the country’s second pride parade on Wednesday, marking the end of Pride week’s events organised by the Centre of Equality and Liberty for LGBT in Kosovo, CEL.
Waving scores of rainbow flags, activists and allies of the LGBTQ+ community convened at Skenderbeu Square, making their way down Nene Tereza Boulevard, chanting the slogan of this year’s parade, “in the name of freedom,” as they reached Zahir Pajaziti Square.
Lendi Mustafa, activist from the LGBTQ+ community in Kosovo, said that the aim of the parade is to increase the visibility of this community’s members, and appealed for institutions to recognise the issues that this community deals with.
“Today, in the name of freedom, we invite all state institutions to not deny our identity, to offer equal opportunities and fulfil their responsibilities regarding human rights in order to work towards a diverse society,” he said.
He said that another goal of the parade is to represent individuals who cannot enjoy a decent life because of the pressure they face in relation with their sexual identity.
“We came together to show that we are becoming empowered, and we have hope that we will enjoy demands, we will remain united until the end. We will be your voice,” Mustafa said.
According to Blert Morina, director of CEL, the title of this year’s parade was chosen because “being a member of the LGBTI community in Kosovo means that you’re going to face double discrimination, social pressure, most of the time institutional discrimination so it’s important to talk and see what could be done better.”
Among the participants this year were Mayor of Prishtina Shpend Ahmeti, Minister of European Integration Dhurata Hoxha, several members of the Kosovo assembly and representatives from foreign embassies.
After a public invitation, Adelina Ismajli, a famous pop star who has been prominent in Kosovo’s mainstream music scene since the 1990s, joined the parade just minutes after one of her songs was played through the speakers, wearing the rainbow flag and greeting enthusiastic fans.
Kosovo’s second pride parade. | Photo: Atdhe Mulla
U.S. Embassy Officials in Albania Shown Working Directly with Soros Operatives to Channel Grant Money into Left-Wing Operations that Attack Traditional, Pro-American Groups, Governments and Policies in Name of ‘Civil Society’
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released 49 pages of new documents obtained from the U.S. Department of State about U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding for George Soros’s left-wing nonprofit organizations in Albania. The documents deal primarily with the activities of Soros’ top operative in Albania, Andri Dobrushi, the director of Open Society Foundation-Albania, who was actively engaged in channeling funding to what Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban calls Soros’ “mercenary army.” The documents show U.S. grant money flowing through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that profess to promote “civil society,” while in fact attacking traditional, pro-American groups, governments and policies.
The records reveal that Soros operative Dobrushi was the first person on a list of invitees by then U.S. Ambassador to Albania Donald Lu to attend an “election rollout event” held at the U.S. Embassy on April 27, 2015. The event was intended to “launch U.S. assistance for the June local elections,” being held in Tirana, Albania. As Judicial Watch previously reported in an April 4, 2018, press release, Ambassador Lu has been closely associated with Soros and the socialist government in Albania, which he assisted by denying U.S. visas to conservative jurists from the conservative party in Albania. Lu has since been nominated by the Trump administration to become US Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan.
Additionally, a June 18, 2015, email from Ilva Cuko, a Program Specialist in the Public Affairs Office of the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, invites several people, including Dobrushi, to a “Donors Grant Reviewing meeting” at the U.S. Embassy, in which the participants would review applications for grants submitted by NGOs seeking U.S. taxpayer grant money from the State Department. Cuko says she would “like to invite you in a discussion on these proposals. Your valuable input and comments will be used by the U.S. Embassy’s Democracy Commission, which has the ultimate authority in awarding the grants.”
Cuko on August 28, 2015, also invited Dobrushi to attend another U.S. Embassy Democracy Commission Small Grants Program “Grant Proposal Technical Review” meeting on September 3 at the U.S. Embassy. At this meeting, Cuko said they would focus on applications dealing with “anticorruption.” Ironically, under the leadership of Soros’ close friend, socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama, who took power in 2013, corruption in Albania has soared, with cannabis trafficking in the country increasing 300 percent between 2016 and 2017.
In a February 22, 2016, email, Cuko again invites several people, including Dobrushi, to another “Donors Grant Reviewing Meeting” held at the U.S. Embassy on February 26 where Dobrushi would be able to influence Embassy officials who have “the ultimate authority in awarding the grants.”
Another document, titled “Guidelines for the Democracy Commission Small Grants Program,” shows that the applications for grants that Soros’ operative was reviewing are part of a program the State Department runs in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States called the “Democracy Commission Small Grants Program,” which is supposed to “promote grassroots democracy.” The guidelines also say that the program “supports initiatives of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in building the social and intellectual foundations of democracy, the democratic resolution of problems, strengthening civil society watchdog activities, and the institutionalization of open, pluralistic political processes.”
In addition to Albania, Judicial Watch also has filed FOIA lawsuits against the State Department and USAID for records about funding and political activities of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations in, Macedonia, Romania and Colombia.
“The Obama administration turned over key State Department activities to George Soros, especially in Albania,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Deep State continues to be aligned with Soros and uses the State Department in countries such as Albania to push his radical agenda. And, of course, tax dollars for Soros abroad frees up resources for his activities here in the United States.”
In an earlier document production connected to this lawsuit, Judicial Watch obtained 32 pages of records showing that the Obama administration sent U.S. taxpayers’ funds to a Soros-backed group that used the money to fund left-wing political activities in Albania. That included working with the country’s socialist government to push for highly controversial judicial “reform.” The records also detail how the Soros operation helped the State Department review grant applications from other groups for taxpayer funding. USAID funds were funneled to Soros’ left-wing Open Society Foundations in Albania, particularly the Soros operation efforts to give the socialist government greater control of the judiciary. USAID reportedly gave $9 million in 2016 to the “Justice for All” campaign, which is overseen by Soros’ “East West Management Institute.”
Days after placing the Serbian military on high alert over a border incident with Kosovo, President Aleksandar Vucic is visiting Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
While Vucic said the situation with the incursion of Kosovan commandos would be part of the discussion with Putin, the Kremlin stressed that the visit had been planned months ahead and was not directly linked to tension in the Balkans. Vucic last visited Russia in May during Victory Day celebrations and, before that, in December last year.
Last Saturday, dozens of Kosovan troops entered a predominantly Serb enclave in the north of the self-proclaimed republic, seizing several industrial sites. The incursion, which violated agreements between Belgrade and Pristina, was justified by security concerns during a visit by Kosovan leader Hashim Thaci. Serbia protested against the move and put its troops on high alert in response.
The conflict over the incursion may have since calmed down, but the potential for any such incident to escalate into outright violence should not be underestimated, according to RT political analyst Aleksandar Pavic. This is especially the case since it happened amid attempts by Vucic to negotiate a deal with Kosovo, which is not recognized as a sovereign nation by Serbia and Russia. His willingness to change that has little support at home, and Russia clearly said that it will only back a decision that is approved by the Serbian people.
If a deal emerges, “Serbia will be crippled and divided within, because most of the Serbian public is against the partition,”said Pavic. “It is a very delicate issue for both the Serbian president and the Russian president.”
Also, he added that if the status of Kosovo as a sovereign nation is consolidated by Serbia’s recognition, the likely result would be Kosovo becoming part of Albania, a NATO member, and Moscow sees NATO as hostile to Russia.
Pavel Kandel, an expert on ethnic conflict with the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences said the saber-rattling is little more than PR exercise by both parties.
“Thaci, whose position in Kosovo has been weakened, really needed to demonstrate how tough he is, how he is in control of the situation and can even travel to the north of Kosovo and take troops with him. The same goes for the Vucic and his army-rallying. He had to demonstrate he is a tough guy too,” he told RT.
He said the Serbia-Kosovo deal was pretty much derailed by the Kosovan side’s lack of flexibility.
“I believe Vucic would be prepared to recognize Kosovo’s independence in exchange for Serbian membership in the EU, but he needed it to be a sort of a compromise. But the Albanians [in Kosovo] are not willing to concede anything to save Vucic’s face.”
The Kosovo government is planning to strike a deal with Limak, a private joint-stock company, to the tune of 84 million euros in a non-transparent that favors a private company and damages public interest.
Last week, the contract for the extension of the runway of the International Airport in Prishtina was obtained and subsequently published along with an analysis of the contract. The findings of the analysis report are quite concerning, leaving many unanswered questions. If everything goes according to the plan, the government will give away 84 million euros to Limak Kosovo International Airport JSC,—who concluded their contract for airport concessions for Prishtina’s airport in 2010 ―over the next five years.
Through this concession agreement, the Kosovo government gave all rights of investment in the airport in Prishtina to the private joint-stock company, who in turn retain all profits from investments made, paying rent back to the government for the next 20 years.
On August 4, 2017, the former government led by Isa Mustafa signed a contract worth 33.6 million euros through the Ministry of Infrastructure with the concession partner of the airport, Limak, about one month before finishing its mandate. The contract planned to extend the runway of the airport by 500 meters, as well as buy equipment that is needed for the landing and radiocommunication systems.
The issues lie with the fact that this contract of such high value was signed not by announcing a tender, but through a negotiated bid only. Thus, everything that is to do with this contract was kept away from the public eye and the media. From the ministry’s initiative to extend the runway to the signing of the contract, the public was completely kept in the dark. The only exceptions are a few sporadic cases when ministers have mentioned the project superficially.
Prompted by this total lack of transparency, I took it upon myself to find this contract and analyze its content. Not only did I find the contract, but I also discovered the reason why it was being kept secret – although the contract does not have a clause classifying it as a business secret, the Ministry of Infrastructure did not publish it.
I had to procure the contract unofficially, and from what I saw, I understood why its publication never happened.
The Ministry of Infrastructure had signed a contract that obligated it to invest in a private business, namely Limak, and the ministry did not even have control over who carried out the work. In other words, the ministry and Limak agreed that Limak would invest around 34 million euros to increase its business capacities, while the ministry would receive the invoice.
The ministry had initially attempted to make this investment under the original concessionary contract, the one concluded in 2010. However, there were problems because the Law for Public Procurement only allows for additional work to amount to a maximum of 10 per cent of the value of the original contract, and the 34 million figure clearly crossed this boundary.
Yet, since the ministry was unwavering in its claim to invest in Limak, legal obstacles were not important because, as Mayor of Drenas Ramiz Lladrovci once said: “law is like a rubber band.” That is why they decided to go with another alternative – illegally representing the project as one of public works.
This was all done without financial analysis, and based only on a clause of the concessionary contract of 2010 that says that Limak has exclusive rights to decide what work they carry out at the airport.
Nevertheless, in this case, this right is nothing more than any ordinary right an owner enjoys over their business. Whatever business it may be, the owner decides what is invested and who carries out the work. The same goes for the airport.
Thus, the only conclusion that one can derive from analyzing the contract is that in fact, the Ministry of Infrastructure was subsidizing a private company, that of Limak, but without respecting the necessary procedures for subsidy.
This contract goes against the Law for the Management of Public Finances and Responsibilities, because public money is being invested in a private business, and it also goes against the Law for Public Procurement, because even if the investment was beneficial to the public, the contract was not done through a tender.
At present, any damages incurred to the budget through this contract can be invoiced to the former government.
Now, instead of halting the implementation of a contract that goes against the law, the current government has decided to amplify the abuse of public money.
If we listen closely to an interview of the Kosovo Minister of Infrastructure Pal Lekaj on September 17, it is clear that the government is aiming not to pay Limak the cost of the contract from the budget, but instead make a compensation agreement so that Limak would pay the costs of the investment, while the government, through compensation, relinquishes any income the government would receive from the concessionary tax for the next five years. This tax is the money that Limak pays the government to run the airport.
Translated to numbers, the income from this tax for the next five years (2019-2023) will be around 84 million euros, assuming that the trend of increase in number of travelers continues when visa liberalization occurs. This means that, through this contract, the government is planning to give away 84 million euros to Limak. In other words, a project that according to the ministry started with the aim of increasing income is not only failing to do that, but is paradoxically causing losses worth many times more than the cost of the project itself.
If the cost were not this high for the country, it would actually be very comical. It is the second such case happening this year, after Bechtel & Enka’s 53 million euros, in which the former government signed an agreement that damaged the budget, and the one in question is increasing this damage by tens of millions instead of stopping it. Furthermore, the same ministry is responsible for both cases.
The difference now is that the damage can be stopped. All that needs to be done is for this contract to be declared invalid because it goes against laws in power, as well as stop any change in the dynamics of the payment of the concessionary tax. If Limak sees it as necessary to extend the runway, they can do it with their own money, as is stipulated in the concessionary contract, and not with taxpayers’ money.
This article was supported as part of a project financed by the European Union Office in Kosovo and applied by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, and the Association of Kosovo Journalists, AGK. The author is exclusively responsible for the content of the article and it cannot, in any way, be considered a statement by the EU, BIRN, or AGK.