Prishtinë, 7 February 2007 – Kosovar experts are not surprised with the economy issues presented by UN-mediator Marti Ahtissari. He has announced that Kosovars will be required to pay back a part of the debt incurred by former Yugoslavia. These debts were created by Serbia in the name of Kosovo, but there is no relevant evidence that this money was invested in Kosovo. According to some Kosovar economy experts the total debt is around $750 million to $780 million. Some of the experts consider that this Package defines Kosovo as a separate economic market. Kosovo will have the right to be e member of international financial institutions.
“Ahtisaaris Package didn’t present any surprise to us, because we were more or less prepared in the aspect of economic development since we worked on this for a long time and we knew what to expecting. In general, we welcome this package proposal. Until now, whenever we analyzed the economic development, the undetermined status was considered the main obstacle” said Haki Shatri, Minister of Economy and Finance.
The economic group, which was part of the Kosovo delegation for talks with Serbia on Kosovos status, engaged also foreign experts in the issue of foreign debts. “We recognize debts that were ratified from the Kosovo Assembly until the violent suspension of Kosovo’s autonomy. There is no dilemma for this part of the debt, but we need to certify the amount of these debts. There is another part of debts are a dilemma, which are the debts created until June 1999” said minister Shatri.
Besim Beqaj, Head of Kosovo Chamber of Commerce, is fully confident that Ahtisaari’s proposal defines Kosovo as a separate economic market. “It determines its customs borders by giving the identity of a place that can enter into various bilateral and multilateral agreements. This also means that Kosovo can join international mechanisms like international financial institutions”, said Beqaj adding that with adoption of this proposal package Kosovo will negotiate with different countries for development of projects and funds that are too necessary for Kosovo.
According to Beqaj Kosovo institutions and the Kosovo society has to look for further and more detailed information on some issues like property, debts, sharing of the assets of former Yugoslavia and especially about various tax collections on municipality level based on the principles of decentralization.
The head of Kosovo Chamber of Commerce says that until now we had representative offices of international monetary institutions, like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but they were parts of representative offices of these institutions in Belgrade. “Ahtisaari explicitly says that the Serbian economic sovereignty over Kosovo will end. Earlier we made efforts just to get the right for Kosovo to sign free trade agreements. Now, things will be different and Kosovo from this May will become part of a new CEFTA, part of the regional market”, said Beqaj. As more important he considers that Kosovo should not look only for assistance funds but will be able to get development funds and reach a development level of the countries of the region.
The proposal brings optimism also for the Kosovo Business Alliance. The head of KBA, Agim Shahini is convinced that this package brings a new approach to international financial institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Paris and London Clubs. “The most important thing is that Kosovo will gain its sovereignty”, said Shahini.
Shahini has acknowledged that Kosovo businesses were never against FTAs and now the CEFTA agreement because they will get access to new markets. Their hesitation was due to improper policies in Kosovo, which create unequal competition of local businesses towards businesses in the region. After CEFTA we need to create policies that will create equality on Kosovo’s market. The Kosovo Government is responsible to create such policies in favour of creating equal opportunities of our businesses with these countries.