By Muharrem Nitaj and Linda Karadaku
An inter-ministerial group of the Foreign Ministry is working to identify Kosovo state properties abroad, with an eye to eventually exercising rights to them.
It’s a two-way street, however, director for International Economic Co-operation in the Kosovo Foreign Ministry Agron Maloku tells SETimes. “We are seeking a list [of properties] from the Kosovo Privatisation Agency responsible for property issues, and are awaiting a reply on the property of other [former Yugoslav] republics that may be in Kosovo.”
“All property issues are regulated through international conventions and we should simply refer to these documents, data and other relevant indicators, which clearly show Kosovo’s contribution in the former Yugoslav federation,” Maloku says. He adds that property rights are based on the independence of a country, which receives the right to inherit properties to which it contributed in the past.
According to Kosovo Agency for Privatisation data, 55 public enterprises with more than 155 assets exist in the former Yugoslav republics. Virtually one third of the assets are in Serbia.
Agency spokesperson Ylli Kaloshi says it has several times exercised its legal mandate, undertaking to represent and protect interests of the public enterprises and their assets abroad.
“But the agency faced difficulties in implementing Article 5.2 of the Kosovo Privatisation Agency law due to illegitimate interests of institutions and persons in the republics where the property is located,” Kaloshi told SETimes.
He adds that the tendency to privatise enterprises or their assets is not supported by Kosovo or international legislation.
“The Kosovo Privatisation Agency has sent public announcements to neighbouring countries, asking citizens of these states not to fall victim to manipulation with Kosovo properties, reminding that such sales are illegal,” Kaloshi said.
Deputy Prime Minister Hajredin Kuci thinks Kosovo does not need a new succession agreement with the former Yugoslav republics, only with Serbia.
He told the Kosovo daily Koha Ditore that Serbia, with the Vienna Agreement, “has accepted such a right, but also an obligation”.
He explained that during the 2001 succession process in Vienna, the former Yugoslav republics accepted that Kosovo remains subject to further Kosovo-Serbia succession issues.
Azem Vllasi, a senior official in the former Yugoslav province of Kosovo, told Koha Ditore that property rights should have been addressed immediately after Kosovo’s February 2008 proclamation of independence, and through international bodies.
The minister for Kosovo in the Serbian government, Goran Bogdanovic, told Serbian media that Kosovo cannot ask for properties in former Yugoslav countries, because it was not a republic in the former federation and Serbia does not recognise it as an independent state.
“The return of properties of the former public and state enterprises from Kosovo in central Serbia is not possible based on the enterprises model from Slovenia and Croatia,” Bogdanovic told Belgrade-based Beta agency, adding that Serbia invested about “18 billion dollars for the development” of Kosovo in the last three decades.
Albanian television station Top Channel reports 172 assets of Kosovo in former Yugoslav countries: 104 are in Serbia, 42 in Montenegro, 15 in BiH, six in Croatia, four in Macedonia and one in Slovenia.