Youth Led Change In Kosovo

2021-02-14   |   by CusiGO

On a Pristina square next to the National Theatre, a bright poster shows pictures of guerrillas fighting for secession from the then so-called Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) in the 1990s. It is a statement from the campaign of the Alliance for the future of Kosovo, the Party of former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and one of the leaders of the guerrillas, which will hold legislative elections in Kosovo on Sunday.

A few meters away, two young people distributed the vetevendosje plan to passers-by. Many lanterns were decorated with red ties to support the left-wing Nationalist Party, whose motto “no thieves” is within reach in a one person country, Eight million residents no longer need to fight for independence (independence was declared in 2008 and recognized by about 100 countries), but corruption remains one of their main ills.

In Europe’s youngest country, the first party provides the past, according to opinion polls, it is likely to be excluded from Parliament due to the lack of 5% of the necessary votes, while the second party talks about the future, so it is the most popular party in the election. Polls show that he won 45% to 55% of the Kosovar ethnic minority vote, which will trigger a real political tsunami after 20 years of semi monopoly of power by traditional political parties in the guerrillas. The leader of vetevendosje, Albin Kurti, has been prime minister in 2019, but only for 50 days: it took him a long time to break his coalition agreement and lose a condemnation motion. If elections were held shortly after that, the third in two years, it was the Constitution’s decision to find that the decisive vote (61 out of 120) for avdulah HoTI, who was appointed prime minister since June, should not count.

In other European countries, young people are relatively few and tend to abstain, whereas here, the average age is 30 (Spain, 44), and the group that votes most is those aged 18 to 24. It is the only country in Europe with a growing population (50000 new elderly people – and therefore potential voters – compared to a year and a half ago). From 2015 to 2019, 170000 people, mainly young people, emigrated to Germany and Switzerland to seek opportunities deprived by the poor economy (the third largest country with the lowest per capita GDP on the continent). 54% of young people were unemployed and corruption was serious. Foreign remittances account for 15% of GDP.

A recent survey shows that 65% of people under 25 will vote for vetevendosje this Sunday. It’s easy to find people on the street who will check their votes. They were born in 2005 in a social and political movement whose agenda focused on fighting unemployment, corruption, customer networks, nepotism, organized crime… He more or less attributed these evils to: Old guard. This speech is associated with the feeling that, 47 years after Yugoslavia achieved remarkable autonomy at that time, 22 years after a war, and 13 years after the declaration of partially recognized independence, Kosovo today is more than a rising pastry.

This is the case of Adrian krasnich. He’s 24 years old, majoring in law, selling roasted chestnuts at street stalls, and the thermometer reads – 7 degrees Celsius. “In a normal country, I won’t be here now,” he said, almost shaking. He and two of his friends will vote for vitvin Dorje. “I want to leave. Normally, everyone wants to make progress in life. But it’s hard to leave. It’s a dangerous route. If nothing changes this Sunday, maybe I will, “he added, his friends bowing. “I voted for them just for change,” said one of them, benart Hyseni, the same age, who studied computer science at a private university. “Just to make things different from the past 20 years. So far, the politicians have brought us here, and what they have done in the guerrillas is valuable… But we can’t be proud of what they have done later. ”

Elvira thaqi began with an apologetic smile, saying that she and her friends who had tea at a cafe and bookstore in downtown Pristina were artists who had come out of politics. That’s why when he was 23, he always abstained. But not this Sunday. “So far, I’ve never voted because I don’t think it makes sense, but this will be my first vote, and I’ll vote for Albin Kurti (the leader of vetevendosje) in order to change.”

Even if it’s in the ballot box this time, it’s not the first time young people have led change in Kosovo. In 1997, the University of Pristina was the beginning of a protest against Slobodan Milosevic. Young people led the armed struggle in the northern mountains of Kosovo.

In fact, the word “change” is heard in many people who are almost naked as adults. Sometimes they are enthusiastic, sometimes they are reluctant. I have no choice, because I don’t want to waste my vote, and I’m tired of listening to the old parties that were detained in the past. I hate it when people leave. “I didn’t plan to do it, and I even thought it was wrong for so many people to do it, rather than stay and try to change the country,” said fisnick, 20, a dental student in the historic city of Prizren.

Last May, the National Institute for democracy’s barometer reflected the concerns of Kosovars. The four main problems are unemployment (84%), corruption (53%), epidemics (48%) and lack of visa Liberalization (35%). Finally, Kosovo is the only European territory whose citizens cannot go to the EU without a visa, which is one of the most frustrating factors. However, topics in the headlines of external news, such as the dialogue with Serbia or the recognition of Kosovo, are low on the barometer and will not appear in the conversation until they are asked. “It’s not a priority,” Anita bidic, 21, admitted outside a fast food restaurant. “Nor can we change the reality in Serbia in the short term. We don’t like each other, that’s all

In principle, vetevendosje’s expected victory will complicate the dialogue with Serbia. It’s not even on the party’s agenda, though it’s crucial for both sides. It has agreed to recognize that its former provinces will eventually join the EU (under negotiation, but in practice, the agreement is a prerequisite) and open the door to UN and full recognition for Kosovo. Kurti has been very strongly opposed to dialogue with Belgrade in history, with obviously unacceptable preconditions. He also led demonstrations against the Convention, which strengthens self-government in Kosovo’s Serb majority provinces. In recent years, while his party has risen, he has been softening himself to avoid talking about it.

Emma, 19, has yet to decide her vote, which is another example. In a country with 18% of the poor and a minimum wage of 130 euros to 34, the day-to-day problem is not negotiations with Belgrade. She works in a clothing store and studies social work. “I went to a public university, but I’m not a pure person. My family has seven members who can’t afford rent, water and electricity,” he said on a pedestrian street in the center of the city. She lives with a friend in a house with more people. That’s why they give you 230 euros a month and you make a whole day. There is not much prospect for improvement: according to the world bank, the epidemic has reduced GDP by 9%, and this year’s growth rate is expected to be less than 4%.

This is the reality of those Kosovar who have not experienced the repression by Serbia, or they are too small to remember, nor is it that NATO’s 78 Day bombing in 1999 forced the withdrawal of the Serb militia and the Yugoslavian army because they are afraid of a new genocide on the continent, Four years after Srebrenica. Hashim Thaci, for example, is not only a former guerrilla fighting for independence, but also a laughing stock because of his long-term association with power. He served as president until his resignation last November, when the special court for Kosovo (established by international pressure to try crimes committed during and after the 1998-2000 Kosovo War) was technically part of Kosovo’s judicial system, Although headquartered in the Hague, he confirmed charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“This Sunday’s vote will be more against the old policy than for vetevendosje,” explained Agron Demi, a social and economic affairs analyst at gap Institute, a think tank specializing in governance and transparency, in a cafe. “Instead of asking us what has changed in Kosovo to achieve this, we should see the opposite: what has not changed. Unemployment and poverty rates are roughly the same as when independence was declared, visa liberalization has not been achieved, recognition has stagnated or even declined, and dialogue with Serbia has reached a deadlock. Other new political parties that have emerged in recent years have been very weak, with few elections. Vetevendosje is the only alternative that has not yet been tested. ”

Some young people don’t want to try either. Nazim elshani, a 24-year-old computer engineer, will support nisma, a struggling Social Democratic Party in his hometown of malisevo, on Sunday, and polls show nisma will get about 3% of the vote, which will prevent him from entering Parliament. “They have experience and they do the best when they join the government. Vitvin dozer has never ruled. He has always said that there are a lot of influence deals, but I have done my job myself. ” O diella, a 20-year-old student in the Czech Republic, spent a few days in her hometown, hesitating between staying at home on Sundays, “striking a big cross on the ballot” or voting to “infuriate” any party representing ethnic minorities, They guaranteed 20 of the 120 seats in Parliament: “people here are educated but not connected, just nannies or waiters. The country’s problems have not been solved in four years. If he wins, vetevendosje will plug in. I don’t believe it. “