Under två dagar har den interparlamentariska församlingen för EU och Kosovo sammanträtt för att tillsammans diskutera Kosovos europeiska integration. Som EPP:s skuggrapportör för relationerna med Kosovo var jag ombedd att tala om rättsstaten och kampen mot organiserad brottslighet. Talet i helhet nedan:
Strasbourg, January 18th, 2018
“Rule of law, with focus on fight against organized crime” of the 4th EU-Kosovo Stabilization and Association Parliamentary Assembly (SAPC)
Mr. Chairman, dear colleagues,
first of all, I would like to express my condolences to the family of Oliver Ivanovic, the Serbian community in Kosovo as well as the whole people of Kosovo.
“The rule of law bakes no bread, it is unable to distribute loaves or fishes – it has none – and it cannot protect itself against external assault, but it remains the most civilized and least burdensome conception of a state yet to be devised.”
These words by the British philosopher Mikael Oakeshott brilliantly summarizes the meaning of the abstract yet essential notion that we refer to as “the rule of law”.
It might serve as a suitable backdrop to the uncompromising, unyielding stance of both myself and the European Union at large on this topic.
For it is no coincidence that the 2017 resolution of the European Parliament on Kosovo has a strong focus on rule of law issues and first and foremost on corruption and organised crime.
The EU has deliberately restrained itself from giving a green light on this second outstanding criterion for visa liberalisation, as we first want to see a rock solid and convincing track record of high-level convictions for corruption and organised crime.
Our support for Kosovo and its European perspective is firm, and our demands stems from a dedication for the people of Kosovo to have a better protection before the law.
This is also why we commend the government of Kosovo for having made good governance and the rule of law the first key policy area of its European Reform Agenda, and for its realization that a successful EU integration process will mean, in the words of EU Minister Hoxha, “that nobody is above the law”.
North of Kosovo
Dear colleagues, the integration of judges, prosecutors and administrative staff into the Kosovo judiciary marked the implementation of the justice agreement reached in February 2015 under the EU-facilitated Dialogue.
I do not hesitate to call it a historic moment.
The north of Kosovo has long been plagued by corruption that has not been tackled properly by law enforcement agencies, as has been underscored by both the Commission and the Parliament.
The abolition of Serbia’s parallel institutions and the unification of the legal system throughout Kosovo lays the ground for all Kosovars to live under fully functioning rule of law institutions.
Ahead of you now is the implementation. Naturally, the EU can play a supportive role by having EULEX to monitor how the judges and prosecutors function in their new roles.
The Justice System
The draft SAPC recommendations on the functionality of the justice system can be summarized in three points:
– Ensure transparent and merit-based appointments of members to the Kosovo Judicial Council
– Strengthen courts dealing with serious crimes;
– The backlog of cases
These points reflect the content of the Commission report, which points at inefficiency, insufficient accountability as well as a lack of funding and human resources.
At the same time, it must be said that Kosovo actually has appointed most members of key institutions, continued to increase its clearance rate of cases and recently also launched the National Centralised Criminal Record Registry project.
Nevertheless, the implementation of the justice package needs to continue, the financial resources for the judicial sector needs to be strengthened, the capacity of staff needs to improve, and there is not least a strong need to develop e-justice tools.
Organized crime, as you know, continues to be a major concern for us and I fully share the dissatisfaction expressed in the draft recommendations about the insufficient track record of investigations, final court rulings and confiscations in serious organised crime and corruption cases.
So, it think that it should be very interesting for all of us to take part of the findings by the TAIEX mission on the country’s capacity to effectively address instances of high-level corruption and organised crime.
Concretely, I think that the supportive statement by Justice Minister Tahiri on the proposal by Kosovo law experts for a special court dealing with high profile cases is encouraging, as the government, just as said in the draft recommendations, needs to prioritise its actions so that high level suspects can be arrested.
It is also encouraging that the government has approved the concept-document on suspension of public officials accused of corruption, abuse of official position or authority.
When implemented, this means that the courts can file criminal charges against officials suspected of misusing their duty or authority in exercising public functions.
At the same time, however, I can not help but note that the government has appointed ministers and civil servants who are facing legal problems or facing corruption charges. I also note that the ways of celebration differ between some of the ministers of the current government and the ministers in my own country.
Unfortunately, there are also other clouds on the horizon.
If performed badly or even unprofessionally, public procurement will inevitably become the object of abuse by organized crime. In a country where more than 40 percent of the national budget is spent through public procurement, the lack of implementation of the electronic procurement is to be taken very seriously and dealt with.
I also take note of the critical comments by the Kosovo Law Institute about signs that the “Kosovo Police is not clean internally”.
as the Assembly Presidency failed to hold its meeting yesterday, the initiative to abolish the law on the Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office is still pending.
You all know that this issue is of extreme concern to the EU and its Member States and that we expect Kosovo authorities to fulfil their obligations and cooperate closely with this Court, as it committed itself to do in 2014.
Yesterday, I took part of a statement by PDK MP Ganimete Musliu, where she said that “International friends can present their suggestions but it is in the authority of the MPs to take decisions”.
She is right.
But I urge you as MPs to honestly inform Kosovo’s citizens of the severe negative consequences, including for Kosovo’s international and Euro-Atlantic integration, if Kosovo continues on this path.
You are entitled to your opinions about this issue, and we are entitled to ours. Our opinion as the EPP is that this issue constitutes nothing less than a litmus test for the commitment to rule of law.
Positive reviews by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and other institutes, on the fight against corruption and the rule of law from will mean very little of Kosovo fails this litmus test.
The international community is in Kosovo to help, but to paraphrase the participants of the ‘International Anti-Corruption Day in Pristina: the fight for rule of law belongs to you.