25.03.2020

Speech of Prime Minister Albin Kurti at the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo

Prishtina, 25 March 2020

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, in his speech addressing to the deputies of the Assembly of Kosovo, stated that he is proud of this Government Cabinet and its achievements, counting the decisions taken since 4 February 2020.

On this occasion, Prime Minister Kurti mentioned also the measures taken by the Government to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

While speaking about the motion of no-confidence, Prime Minister Kurti said that he is not feeling sorry for this government let alone for himself. “I feel sorry for the people, citizens, the nation, of what is being done to them with this motion of no-confidence”, said Prime Minister Kurti, adding that this motion of no-confidence is intended to leave the people without their government, without the government they have voted for.

Prime Minister Kurti’s full speech in the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo

Dear citizens of the Republic,
Honourable Members of the Parliament,
Honourable Ministers of Government Cabinet
Honourable President of the Assembly, Mrs Osmani

The new Government of the Republic of Kosovo is today on its 50th day of work. So today it is 50 days since we officially assumed the duty. We all saw how, not only did we not have 100 days to prove ourselves, but we didn’t even have 100 hours. Today, 50 days later, I can say that I am proud of this cabinet and of its achievements.

Allow me to mention some of them:

• From the beginning, we have reduced in half the salaries of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and their staff, but not the salaries in the justice system and in the Constitutional Court. We wanted to show what we consider as a value and we wanted to bring ethics into politics.

• We dismissed the 7 unnecessary National Coordinators that were burdensome for both budget and operation.

• The Public-Private Partnership Committee consisting of 5 ministers was appointed.

• Financial support was approved for the elimination of damages from the natural disaster of the powerful storm that hit the municipalities of Peja and Istog. According to the commission’s report, the damages amounted to more than 433,000 Euros.

• The Board of Directors of the Central Public Enterprise “Kosovo Telecom” JSC was dismissed.

• The decision of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo on the salaries of former ministers and former deputy ministers after they had completed their mandate was repealed.
Imagine, we had ministers who were in office for a week, and after they were no longer in office they were paid up to six months or a year while staying at home. But not at home because of the Coronavirus, but at home because of corruption.

• The request of the Ministry of Finance and Transfers for the allocation of funds in the amount of 200 thousand Euros was approved as financial support to the Republic of Albania for the purpose of assisting in recovery of damages caused by the earthquake that hit on 26 November 2019, in addition to the many other and material assistance provided earlier to the Republic of Albania.

• Board of Directors of Central Public Enterprise “Kosovo Railways – Infrakos” JSC was dismissed

• The Government Decision to approve the Concept Document on amending fiscal and agricultural policies for tobacco and cigarette production in Kosovo, favouring the advisers, was repealed.

• Funds in the amount of 400,000 Euros were allocated to the Ministry of Health to prevent possible epidemic emergencies. Later on we allocated a budget of 10 million Euros to combat the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

• The Ministry of Justice’s proposal to establish an Independent Expert Group to design the guiding principles, scenarios and elements of the justice system vetting reform, consisting of 10 professionals, was approved.

• The directors of the Supervisory Board of the Central Public Enterprise “Trepca” JSC were dismissed.

Our ministers have also done a great deal of hard work. Here are some of the decisions they made:

• Repealed the decisions for appointment of 14 vain consuls around the world, whom we have enabled repatriation.

• Cancelled a 110 million Euros tender for the Prishtina-Gjilan highway announced without budget approval.

• Cancelled the construction of the neighbourhood near Lake Badovc.

• The Ministry of European Integration will save 330,000 Euros annually after being relocated to the premises of the Kosovo Government and thus will not pay unnecessary rent and utilities from the taxpayers’ budget.

• An agreement was signed with the World Bank to support Kosovo with a $2,785,000 grant.

• Three decisions by the former Minister of European integration were annulled, thus saving about 400,000 Euros.

• On 6 March, the Government Program of the Republic of Kosovo for the years 2020 – 2023 was approved.

• We annulled the previous Government’s decision whereby the company “Bechtel-Enka” would receive 50 million Euros. There is a need for connection and overpass on the closed highway, but we do not have to spend 50 million Euros. This could be done differently, could be done better and could be cheaper of course.

• Following their earlier dismissal, we appointed the interim boards to Kosovo Telecom and Enterprise “Trepca” JSC. These two interim boards, according to the Law on Publicly Owned Enterprises, will be operational until the new board is appointed.

• The list of UN and EU sanctions includes a company that has exported to our country, and it was held for three weeks at Kosovo Customs. The company “Sabalan Company – Iran”, which is listed as an entity under sanctions as a cover company of another company, was imposed sanctions by our country as well according to the unanimous decision of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo.

• The Draft Law on Budget Allocations for the Budget of the Republic of Kosovo for 2020 was approved, the draft law which was voted on 14 March here in the Assembly. Our government has inherited a significant amount of outstanding liabilities from the previous Government and municipalities, a total debt of 328 million Euros.

• The Pristina-Mitrovica road, known as N2, will be completed. As an important step we have approved the expropriation of immovable property in the Gojbula-Smerkovnica segment, which will complete the extension of this road although the works for it had started before the works for the “Ibrahim Rugova” Nation Road but were never completed.

• The Steering Committee of the Technical Assistance Project “Lignite-based Energy” was established.

• A decision was adopted requiring the Privatization Agency of Kosovo to suspend indefinitely all actions in respect of immovable property from the “Rental Assets List with specific character updated”, announced on 5 March 2020.

On March 11, we made a series of decisions related to the Coronavirus, known as COVID-19:

• Discontinuation of the educational process in public and private educational institutions at all levels until 27 March 2020, with the recommendation that one parent be released from work (this measure does not apply to healthcare workers and those in the security sector)

• We have banned entries and exits in some municipalities and we closed the border and the airport.

• We have established the Special Commission for the Prevention of the Coronavirus Infection, with me being the chair, two deputy prime ministers, seven ministers and twelve professionals and experts in the field. Seven other members, including a minister and three professionals, will be added to the Commission later.

• We have distributed the necessary materials to the health centres in all municipalities, prepared the spaces in case of the need for isolation, communicated with the media and the public about the measures and steps we have taken,

• We have announced a public health emergency.

• We have banned flights to our country for non-citizens of Kosovo, and have designated the Student Centre in Prishtina as a quarantine area.

• We have abolished the tariff on import of raw materials from Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina until 1 April 2020. We have said that the Government will issue a decision to abolish the tariff entirely and replace it with a reciprocity measure, as we have pledged during the campaign, just as we had it in the governing coalition agreement, as we have it in the governing program 2020-2023.

• Since yesterday we have banned the circulation of citizens and vehicles from 10:00h to 16:00h and from 20:00h – 06:00h.

• When outside, during the time allowed, walking should not be done having more than two persons walking together and they should keep a distance of 2 meters.

• We have also banned public and private gatherings in open and closed spaces, unless it is necessary to gather to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

• We have granted two pensions, as we have promised, of social assistance starting from 24 March 24, so as from yesterday, from Tuesday.

Honourable MPs

I do not feel sorry about this government let alone for myself. I feel sorry for the people, the citizens, the nation, of what is being done to them with this motion of no-confidence.

First, this motion of no-confidence is intended to leave the people without their government, without the government they have voted for.

Secondly, it is leaving the people without a reformist government that undoubtedly fights corruption and is serious like nothing else, like no one else and like never before about its commitment to employment, especially for women and youth.

Third, you want to leave the people without this government in the midst of the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, in the most important week, although our management is exemplary. It is an example not only for countries in the region but even beyond. So, just when we as a government are setting an example on how to manage the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, this motion of no-confidence is intended to leave our country without a government.

The people know that I do not have your support as PAN MPs. The people also know that I do not have the support even of some of the LDK MPs. But you all know that this government has the support of citizens who are in such a dire straits because, besides having unemployment among them and injustice against them, they now have to deal also with the risk of the Coronavirus, and now on its peak, they will be left without a government that managed well.

To my strong belief, the engine of this rush to dismiss the government has nothing to do with the minister, not even with the withdrawal of the troops of the United States from Kosovo, rather it is nothing less than a ready-made agreement for territorial exchange between Kosovo and Serbia. This is in the background, the engine that is also causing this rush in Kosovo.

This presidential bargain needs to see the government fall. The presidential bargain while having this government, with me as a leader, cannot be done. This deal is over. He tried to announce a state of emergency. Why did not he announce it? He went to the White House to make an agreement. Why did not he make it? With me as Prime Minister, with this government, no state of emergency can be announced without actually being a state of emergency, and there is no agreement in the White House, neither in the green nor in the red house, on territorial exchange between Kosovo and Serbia.
Therefore, the engine behind all this deal is how to dismiss this government, how to remove me, in order to pave the way for the announcement of a state of emergency, but also for the ready-made bargain for territorial exchange.
I’m now convinced more than ever before that there is a ready-made agreement. Practically this was also confirmed by the President at the meeting i had with him. That, even at the request of the PDK MPs, although were not heard because they didn’t have the microphones on, they were saying like: go and meet the President, go and with the President. I met him, and we did not come to an agreement. I met him for two hours. We did not agree. Do you know why? Because he repeated to me three times: Prime Minister, remove the tariff and we go to Washington together, we make the agreement, we get rid of Serbia forever. He said: “these other prime ministers are politically-appointed prime ministers, whereas you and I are elected by the people, and you and I can get this job done. We go there together, we get rid of Serbia once and for all”. Do you understand? So it is not the idea to remove the tariff and start negotiations. The idea is to remove the tariff and publish the agreement.
This is the idea, and, of course, they will not have me as their collaborator in these presidential bargains, which are harmful and dangerous, and since I am in the position of the prime minister, it is not possible for such bargains to be done.

Even his tendency to announce the state of emergency a week ago, which failed, had nothing to do with the Coronavirus. Absolutely not! The president’s action was never about the Coronavirus.

At a time when there were only 19 infected persons, no persons dead because of the Coronavirus, only one who was not even in a respiratory, but only with an oxygen mask, he wished and insisted to announce the state of emergency at any cost. To prove this to you, you remember the President’s statement two nights ago, and will read it now for you because it is practically an attack on our constitutional order, a call for disobedience in our Republic, disobedience to the state bodies, especially to the security ones.

Here is what he said two nights ago: “The today’s Government decision is completely unconstitutional. Citizens are not obliged to respect unconstitutional decisions and no one can punish them for doing this. I repeat: citizens are not obliged to respect unconstitutional decisions and no one can punish them for doing so”. I underline, though I am not underlining; however, this is what he said, I underline: “Neither the Kosovo Police nor the security authorities should enforce this unconstitutional decision of the Government as they themselves will commit a criminal offense by doing so. I reiterate, he says: Neither the Kosovo Police nor the security authorities should enforce this unconstitutional decision of the Government as they themselves will commit a criminal offense by doing so. The decision of the Government does not have a legal effect and it is not enforceable in the whole territory of the Republic of Kosovo”.

Therefore, a person who has neither the authority to make such statements, nor the power to enforce what he says, is practically attacking our constitutional order by calling for disobedience to the police and security authorities.

However, as you all saw, none of the police officers obeyed the President yesterday. No police officer, no police officer of the Republic of Kosovo stated that they will enforce the orders of the President.

All police officers respected the Government’s decision, and I am appreciative and grateful to them in this regard.

The President does not have the support of the people, he does not have the support of state bodies, therefore he wants to declare a state of emergency.

His aspirations are clear. Under Article 131, paragraph 7, the President would take control of the KSF and cast the Ministry of Defence out. Under Article 131, paragraph 8, the President would take control of the Security Council and practically cast the Government out.

This is the goal. Let us not become blind or ignorant and act as if we do not know what the goal is.

Now, of course, the Government is not falling because of a minister. The Government never falls because of a minister unless that minister is more than a minister.

If that minister is a plan. If the minister is a plan, then the Government falls. But a Government never falls because of a minister.

And this plan has failed. Honestly, I was not aware of this plan. However, I was convinced that if the Government of the Republic of Kosovo had two different public opinions, one coming from the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo and another one coming from the Minister of Internal Affairs, on the matter of the state of emergency, there would be no Government, no democracy, no Republic.

You are well aware of the fact that the former minister criticized me, accused me and attacked me during the campaign in Llap on a daily basis. I’ve never reacted. As for the accusations against me, my family, the movement which I lead, our Government, believe me we would be together in the government for four years.

However, supporting the President with regard to the state of emergency at midnight against the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, while praising the police at the meeting of the Security Council, such actions are unprecedented and unforgivable.

Therefore, I have acted rightly, if I had not acted it would represent an injustice.

I have never reacted to all the criticism and attacks that have been directed towards me by a person who did not support the coalition. I have never reacted.

I have read his name in this podium less than 24 hours after being told who will be Minister of Internal Affairs. As a result, we had to unnecessarily organize elections in a municipality. I did not know who was going to be the minister. This simply shows the respect I have for the arrangement, agreement, and so on.

However, the agreement was not breached here. The agreement was breached when the replacement of 100 per cent tariff by reciprocity was abandoned. The agreement was breached at that moment.

And I was hoping that maybe we could still get this coalition back on track; however, that did not happen.

The agreement was breached when I was told to remove the tariff without enforcing reciprocity.

And I openly declare in front of you that there is no international official, in any country, at any time, whom I, as a Prime Minister or as a candidate for Prime Minister, told that I will lift the 100 per cent tariff to Serbia, without continuing the sentence stating: political, economic and commercial reciprocity.

This is my opinion. I do not have different words for different people, at different times.

Simply put, the 100 per cent tariff should be replaced by reciprocity. This is our policy and this is also our agreement, which has been violated first.

Regarding these attacks made with the idea that the US troops will withdraw, why did not the troops withdraw? Yesterday I met KFOR Commander, General Risi. Is the Minister of Defence here? Yes, the Minister of Defence Anton Quni is here, and General Risi told us that there was no request for the withdrawal of any troops.
This was told to us yesterday at noon. Therefore, do you understand, there is no withdrawal of any troops. This is a deceit. This is a deceit the meaning of which can be found in its purpose rather than the reality of facts.

With regard to the promised 200 million Euros, all of you who deal with public policy and governance know, based on your own experience, that even when you see 200 million Euros in front of you, you do not know whether you will get them, let alone the fact that we have not even seen them.
Therefore, this accusation of losing 200 million euros is premature and false. This, too, is another kind of deceit that finds its meaning in its purpose rather than in the facts.

The 100 per cent tariff, dear MPs, is like a virus that has experienced a mutation, and the old vaccine does not work anymore. The 100 per cent tariff, which first was a 10 per cent tariff and later on became a 100 per cent tariff, was like a reaction when we failed to join INTERPOL.

However, the President of Serbia stated that he does not want to dialogue until the tariff is lifted. This is where the virus mutated. He caused the virus to mutate saying that he would no longer enter into dialogue without the tariff being lifted. Yet, do you know what he did instead of dialogue? He had secret talks. Since the 100 per cent tariff was imposed, there has been no dialogue with Serbia, only secret negotiations. They never stopped, until they were crowned with a sort of a deal that was offered to me by telling me: “remove the 100 per cent tariff, but without enforcing reciprocity, and come sit at the table where the two presidents are with their bargain already agreed upon”.

The goal is not to lift the 100 per cent tariff. The goal is to remove reciprocity. Therefore, all the pressure that is being put on me, on the governing cabinet, on the people of Kosovo, on our state, is not to lift the 100 per cent tariff, rather it is to remove reciprocity. Do you know why reciprocity should be removed? Because Serbia has historically recognized the freedom of Albanians. It even recognizes their independence. However, they never accept us as equal to them. Serbia does not accept our equality. They were a republic, we were an autonomy. We became a republic but they do not recognize us. It has opened the negotiations, while even our SAA has a footnote.

For those of you who have read history, you know that Serbia does not accept our equality. They accept both our freedom and independence. They accepted that of Bosnia. This is where I could not agree with the President. He said, let us make an agreement with Serbia and get rid of Serbia forever. Serbia has an agreement with Bosnia; however, they cannot get rid of them. It depends on the agreement you reach. The form does not explain everything. The fact that you have an agreement does not mean that you got rid of Serbia. There are bad agreements that only put a heavy burden on you. Therefore, the 100 per cent tariff is not the issue, the issue is reciprocity with Serbia. The issue is me stating that we are lifting the tariff, and replacing it with reciprocity, and during those 50 days, obviously I was criticized and accused; however, for me, that is part of politics. Such is the political arena. For me politics is a battle. Therefore, just because some people put pressure on me this does not mean that I will change my beliefs, my will, my personal conscience. I am pointing out that, at a time I am managing the Coronavirus very well, I am saying for the time being because these two weeks are crucial, at a time when the people have been waiting so long for such a government, the motion of no-confidence has nothing to do with the withdrawal of troops, the 200 million that no one has seen yet, or a minister for whom I have not appointed a minister of my party rather left the seat empty for someone else. However, in the background, and you will be convinced of this, lies the territorial exchange that failed as a project but did not die as an idea. It failed as a project, but it did not die as an idea. We are alive here, and we are determined not to let it happen.
They tried to make a deal for the territorial exchange with champagne at the White House, but they failed. It did not happen because it cannot be done without the Government being present. And now do you know what do they need? They need blood before champagne. They need to declare a state of emergency. They need incidents on the ground. They need bloody clashes in order to say at the end: “the north cannot be governed, we have nothing to do, we better sign an agreement whatever it is than be in such a situation for another century with Serbia”.

I am confident that in the coming weeks and months you will be convinced as well, since now as Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo I have learned during these 50 days more than what I learned many months and years ago. Now I have access to more information than ever before.

The Government is a reform train; however, looks like they want another train. And they do not even have an issue with me personally. If I change my mind, they will be fine again. Thus, they have nothing personal with me either, it is purely conceptual. It is a cause and they have a secret cause, while we have a public cause. I believe theirs is wrong and harmful, and I believe ours is right and good. There are two ways. And this champagne that needs the blood beforehand is the figure you have to keep in mind for the territorial exchange agreement, which is the engine of all the manipulation and rush being made in the Republic of Kosovo.

Thank you!