faces up to the challenges of the future

Interview with:

President of the Assembly of Kosovo
First of all Mr. Daci let me congratulate you on being elected as the President of the Assembly of Kosovo. What are your expectations of the new government and when do you think it will be formed finally?

First of all let me thank you for visiting Kosovo and for your congratulations. As you might probably know, Kosovo was kept in the dark for a long period of time, it was in a classical occupation by a regime that ended up at the International Tribunal in the Hague. One positive thing about it, is that the name Yugoslavia does not exist any more. That name was misused by a fascistic regime that was responsible for waging a series of wars in the Balkans: in Croatia, in Bosnia and then in Kosovo. The war left Kosovo completely destroyed in the aspects of economy, health and education. Let me also remind you that kosovars were deprived of their normal life for more than 10 years, they were not allowed to attend schools, hospitals, they were fired from their working place and all that left a big trauma in our lives. Starting a parliamentary life is not easy if you were 10 years out of normal life, then had to go through a war, even though, we had probably the most successful elections in the region in November 2001. As a result, we created the Assembly, but we had some problems creating the government and electing the president because the election results did not allow the LDK to form the government by itself. In less than three month we succeeded to create a so-called Broad Base Government, a coalition of the three main Kosovar parties: the LDK, the PDK and the AAK. I am absolutely convinced and optimistic about the future of that government and the coalition. That will enable us to create stable institutions, a stable parliament and a stable government. Unfortunately, this is still not a government that one would wish to have: a government of high professionals, because every agreement has its own advantages and disadvantages. The government was created by an agreement of the main parties and just like everywhere else in the world, parties make the politics, but life doesn't necessary need to depend on politics. So, in the very near future we could face some functioning problems of that government. I hope that the parliament will be able to correct the possible mistakes of the government by establishing the necessary committees. The parliament has now finished the creation and establishment of ministries. The government consists of 10 ministries. One of the main issues is the transition of powers and responsibilities that UNMIK still has but will gradually give back to the Kosovars. So far we don't have the ministry of Foreign Affairs, or Ministry of Justice or Defense, but the Parliament will have committees for all those issues, because we would like Kosovars to be informed of what is actually going on within Kosovo in those fields. Regarding the presence of the international community we will complete our mission and our tasks in this three years election period. I believe that we will start to improve our standard of living because my opinion is that we have reached the lowest possible point in the last 15 years of all our activities and standards. We had a lot of international support in these three years and I have to thank the international community, governmental and nongovernmental organizations for their help. We have already passed the phase of emergency in Kosovo. Many houses that were burned during the war are already reconstructed, also the hospitals, clinics and schools. But I have to say that I'm not satisfied with the results achieved by the international community and they are incompatible with the investments. My explanation of that is that the situation was judged by foreigners that didn't know the reality here. You may know very well how it may work in Hong-Kong but you may be sure that you will fail here. You see, at the beginning when we got our freedom, most of the foreigners thought that Kosovo was not developed at all. They were very wrong. For example, the investments that were done in the production of electricity were very high, but and foreigners, to prevent Kosovars from any kind of criminal activities and to create a secure environment for minorities. And we have to be sure that all the key personalities are willing to protect Kosovo because I'm sure that we can have independence only when everybody is satisfied with that situation. We don't intent to create here some kind of a banana republic so lets all together stand up and fight for a decent life in Kosovo. Let me give you an example: for three years Kosovars are receiving salaries from public services in UNMIK that are less than your electricity bill and this is a very bad message to all of us. This is a message that tells you that you don't have a future, a message that makes our youth to leave Kosovo and go abroad and we don't want that because our population is very young, 52% are under the age of 20. We have a very skilled population and we have showed the international community that in 10 years of occupation we were able to maintain all our parallel institutions, we kept our universities, the Academy of Sciences, the schools, the hospitals we basically lived on our own. Nobody financed us, we had our own financial support and now Kosovo is able to live on it's own and the parliament will do its part of the job endorsing a legislation that is completely compatible with Europe but would also extensively use the experience of the USA, Japan or Canada to help develop the economy of the country. Without a proper economy you can not achieve anything, no science, no culture, no art, no politics.

One of the cornerstones of economical development is privatization. How do you envisage the future process of privatization in Kosovo?

We started asking for the privatization during the last two years and we are making a very intensive effort to have it. You have to know, that UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) here is the big boss or God. UNMIK thinks that everything Kosovo has, belongs to it Kosovo still turns dark everyday. That means that the investments were not based on enough professional parameters. But. I think that after we have created the parliament, the transition of responsibilities to Kosovars has to be done. And normally, with the obligations you also gain the rights to do things, so I hope that the international staff will be reduced soon, because the UN and its operations are too complex and are very costly and we have to see with UNMIK how to reduce gradually the number of internationals because their salaries and their expenses are absolutely too high. Let me just say that if the missions of the international community and the KFOR cost 3 billion USD, and the benefits of such high investments are not on the level that could be expected and I don't think that tax payers in Europe and elsewhere are satisfied too. So, my vision is that Kosovo definitely still needs the presence of the international community for a long period of time but we need them mainly as advisors or as consultants.

You could especially use their help in the economy. In what ways?

Absolutely, in the economy, and a very few of them in politics. I'm not one of those who want to dispense the international community from here and to say "enough, we only want independence and nothing else". Yes, we are fighting for independence, we are decided and we will have it. I'm prepared, the parliament is prepared and the Kosovars are prepared to pay any price to achieve their independence. But we want an independence recognized by the whole world, an independence that means that you can live on your own, reactivate your resources, both natural and human, create a sustainable development, a safe environment for all Kosovars and I don't agree with that, my house is only mine. The privatization has to start immediately but we have to be very careful because the experience in all transition countries in Eastern Europe is very bad. I don't want to lose Kosovo's property, we don't want Kosovo to pass into criminal hands. So we have to be very careful with the privatization, we have to start with the small enterprises, having in mind that for a period of time the national resources will be unexplored and we should not privatize the main pillars of the economy, like the electricity providers, we have to carefully study every step. We have to ask the sound part of the international community to monitor very carefully the process of privatization because the region and the neighboring countries did not benefit from it as much as they wanted. Croatia has already lost much of its property and resources, Romania, Albania is completely destroyed by a non vigilant policy of privatization, Serbia was one of the richest countries but now it became one of the poorest. We have to be very careful not to create a criminal process. We have to start immediately with the privatization but at the same time we have to be very careful and go step by step.

But at the same time you have to be dynamic. What are the most important measures that have to be taken for small scale project development?

We have to have the decision of the Security Council in New York before we can start doing anything. Our diasporas is very large and some of them are financially strong and stable. My intension at the beginning, is to bring home the capital of Kosovar diasporas, because they know very well where to invest, and those people are willing to participate in the privatization and they will stay forever here. They will give a good example for foreign investors that the capital is safe here because we don't want the international companies to come here and lose money or get robbed. So let us start with our diaspora, let us start with the privatization among Kosovars.

Kosovo is very rich in natural resources. Kosovo has about 2 million inhabitants. In the former Yougoslavia, with 22 million inhabitants we had 56% of all coal reserves, we have confirmed about 11 billion tones of coal. For a period of time we were the largest exporter of electricity. Macedonia has lived on our electricity, Montenegro also, we have exported even into Greece, Albania. We were the largest producers of lead, zinc in Europe. The largest producers of nickel and cobalt in Yugoslavia. We don't want only to develop this side of the economy, because using only the natural resources has never been good for the economy, so I'm very optimistic as far as the economical growth is concerned once we have the appropriate legislation.

Apart of mining where else do you see the potential of Kosovo?

Kosovo has a national park witch is beautiful and has beautiful ski and other sport facilities, it's probably one of the best configurations in Europe. We believe that a very big part of our youth could be employed in these potentials. We have a number of highly qualified economists, engineers and other professionals and if we start to reactivate our resources we will show to the international community that can create a safe and sound economy.

Kosovo has already got very good ties with Turkey for example, or Greece but we are focusing more in Asian countries. Do you have any more partners from asia?

I think Malaysia has the biggest potential, they have already visited Kosovo. They are active in the whole region. We also had a lot of help from the Japanese government. I believe, that even though we are a very small country and we might not represent something big in the world but the economy could have its own interests here. Let me say that South Korea, Japan or Malaysia could develop the IT sector here because our population is well educated and young so with a joint agreement with the companies of those countries both sides could find a common interest.

Since you have been elected President of the Assembly you're also President of the Academy of Sciences. How do you manage two such important and responsible positions?

I did not have time to visit the Academy for the last three months. Thankfully, I have good colleagues here so I managed to do many things by phone. From yesterday on I started to spend more time here in the Academy because the government is established now, and I will do my job in the parliament in the afternoons when I am tired of science or when I don't have any more scientific ideas. I don't think that I will have problems managing both positions, just as I will not have any problems with the parties in the parliament because my education, my tradition and my designation is to consider all Kosovars as equals. I will fight for the rights of minorities by all means because I have been fighting for the Albanian population, for my students for the last 35 years. The only thing that I would like to suggest to the minorities is to accept Kosovo as their homeland and behave as Kosovars and then they will have my support and the support of the institutes of Kosovo.

Mr. Daci, what would be your final message to the readers of our magazine the Far Eastern Economic Review?

The readers of your respected magazine will find many interesting things here, such as, natural resources, human resources. Kosovars are very friendly with people from all over the world. In the past Kosovars had a very difficult life, they were spread all over the world. Believe me, we know how to respect foreigners because we were foreigners for a long time even in our own country. For ten years I was doing my job out of the legal institutions, out of university, laboratories, out of the Academy of Science and we did our job in private houses. We don't want anyone else to go through what we had to go through. So let the world come here, find it's own interests and work together with us and let us both have success.

Note: World Investment News Ltd cannot be held responsible for the content of unedited transcriptions.

 Read on 

World INvestment NEws, 2002.
This is the electronic edition of the special country report on Kosovo published in Far Eastern Economic REVIEW. September, 2002 Issue. Developed by AgenciaE.Tv