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KOSOVO faces up to the challenges of the future
Mr. ZEF MORINA
Minister of Transport, Telecommunication and Post of Kosovo
Tel:00 381 38 504 604 5853 firstname.lastname@example.org
25th of March, 2001, Pristina, Kosovo
Can you tell us in a nutshell about the newly established Ministry of Transport and Telecommunication of Kosovo?
The Ministry of Transport and Telecommunication is one of the newly established ministries of the new Government of Kosovo. It includes the Department of Transport and the Department of Post and Telecommunication of Kosovo, established and run by UNMIK, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo. The Department of Transport includes the road, railway and air transportation. Since the latter two, rail and air transportation are still reserved areas of the SRSG, the Special Representative of the Secretary General, we will talk more about the road transportation.
As you must be aware, the current state of the road infrastructure in Kosovo is in pretty bad shape; it goes without saying that its improvement will be our priority number one. I must Add here that the direct impact of the improvement of infrastructure will be tremendous to the economy of Kosovo, it is more than necessary, it is essential. The Kosovo Consolidated Budget is very limited and cannot cover all the costs of such a reconstruction so our Ministry is preparing several programs and projects to attract the interest of the Donor countries. We had a meeting with World Bank officials last week and although our projects was not supported directly, our work was very much encouraged.
Can you elaborate more on the plans and the strategy the ministry has created?
Our projects whether short-term, medium term or long term are still in progress and have to be approved by the parliament and our government. We mostly focus on the reconstruction of the roads that link us with the neighboring countries but as well we don't forget our inland road system which now is in a terrible condition. Some roads have the potential to become highways, here we talk first of all about the already existing roads but since they are heavily damaged we consider also the option of building new ones. Of course the first thing we have to settle is the legal conditions and define the final status of the country and the legal issues and frameworks dependant on that.
Currently, there is the issue of the license plates in Kosovo, since they are not accepted abroad, what can your Ministry do to have it resolved?
We have reached an agreement with UNMIK and several countries that are now recognizing our license plates enabling the free movement of our cars and trucks through their territory. A kind of agreement is also reached with FYRoM. We have an agreement with Albania, Montenegro and because of the political obstacles we still don't have an agreement with Serbia though we hope we will have it in the near future. Luckily some western European countries like Germany and Switzerland are also ready to recognize our plates and this will be a big relief for our citizens.
Which countries are the main trade partners of Kosovo?
Until now, the main trade partners of Kosovo are Albania, Montenegro and Serbia. Our circle of partners is limited mainly because of the difficulties with the traveling documents and visa restrictions. As you might know half of our population still doesn't have valid Travel Documents. I would like to add, that what Kosovo really needs is to have the technology of the production come here in Kosovo. We need to develop technologies here, we have the required labor for it.
Your ministry also covers the telecom sector, what would be the latest developments here?
PTK was formed from the assets of Yu Telecom, that was the Yugoslav state owned telecommunications organization. It was formed by the help of UNMIK, that was a huge political investment made by the international community. During the last two years of its existence PTK was administrated by UNMIK and now it is under the jurisdiction of the newly established Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications.
Right from the very beginning we were more focused on the development of the mobile telephone system because the cable system needed huge investments and also it would have been very time consuming. Since February 2000 we have started with the operation "Vala 900" and by now it covers almost 65% of the Kosovo territory and the results we have achieved so far are quite encouraging. Meanwhile we have also worked on the development of the fixed line telephony mostly in the main cities. Our goal was to install digital equipment and completely changing the old outdated equipment and in this field we are also making considerable success but this needs more time and assets. Until now we have covered almost 90% of the capital (Prishtina). The main reason of the delays is the fact that we need to install the optic fiber network completely from scratches together with installing switchboards and other equipment. Last year, we had another new project, called "DardaNet", which is our internet provider and is currently focused only in Prishtina.
For the rights to become the mobile operator of Kosovo, there was a fight between Monaco Alcatel and Siemens, what can you tell us about it?
I was not present at the time, but if I am not mistaken, in the open bidding in Nov-Dec 1999 several companies participated, Alcatel, Siemens, Motorola etc. The decision of the evaluation committee was that Alcatel had the best offer for us. The equipment and services offered by Monaco Telecom were the most favorable and they enabled us the access to mobile telephony through their satellite system, using their code. This is why you have a completely different code from the code of the country. But I want to emphasize the fact that Vala 900 is a Kosovar mobile operator. The contract with Monaco telecom up to 2003 but we will try to have an other operator in the meanwhile.
We are also looking forward to establish the regulation for a new open bidding on the second license for mobile operator. Probably this must go through the Parliament. For the time being we must focus on decreasing the prices and PTK may feel abandoned, but this is a step that we must take.
When do you expect the privatization process, to start?
We are expecting to receive the regulations to be approved by the UN interim administration very soon. First of all we need to work on the liberalization, commercialization of some enterprises and only after that to proceed with the privatization. This is because the ownership of most of the public enterprises is still managed by UNMIK and the status of their property is not yet defined. It is a very delicate political issue that also depends heavily on the final settlement of the status of Kosovo. The UNMIK, together with the people of Kosovo is dealing with it and I am confident that we will have it resolved very soon and it will not delay further our development.
Could you give us your personal impressions on and a short message to our readers on what has happened so far in Kosovo?
I work in the telecom sector since one year and this is a very dynamic sector that can change within a month. I want the world to know, that the development we have achieved after the war is reached with our work and determined commitment. I also want the international community to know, that the aid that we have received have also been of vital importance.
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