By Linda Karadaku
Kosovo census results were finalised in late September 2012 numbering 1,739,825 residents, excluding the residents in the Serb-dominated Kosovo north municipalities — Mitrovica north, Zubin Potok, Zvecan, and Leposavic — that boycotted the census. The census was held in April 2011, for a week.
The previous one held in 1981, had the participation of all ethnic groups, and totaled 1,584,444.
This year the International Monitoring Operation (IMO) was established to monitor the preparations, enumeration, and census result analysis. Representatives of the European Commission, Council of Europe, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and United Nations Statistical Division took part in the IMO project, chaired by the Eurostat.
IMO concluded that the 2011 Kosovo census was conducted “relatively successfully and has resulted in reliable figures.”
“‘Relatively’ here is used to signify the regret that the census results do not cover the whole territory, since there are no results from the census enumeration for the northern municipalities,” the Mission said.
Kosovo Agency of Statistics reported that the 2011 results represent the first internationally recognised Kosovo census since 1981.
“Published data provide detailed and accurate information of the total population, and by municipality, essential updated information about the housing, demographics, and socio-economic characteristics of the population,” it stated.
Isa Krasniqui, chief executive officer of the Agency, said the census data are “a treasure” and that it “will be used efficiently and actively for planning of government institutions and agencies, non-governmental bodies, in education, various researches and more, in order to make it useful — only this way our efforts in providing reliable and thorough data will reach the goal of contributing to overall development of Kosovo,” he said.
Samuel Zbogar, head of the Kosovo EU Office and EU special representative in Kosovo, emphasised that census data and a solid statistical infrastructure are critical for Kosovo EU aspirations.
“Knowing the European orientation of Kosovo government, we are sure census data will be used to plan better policies and services for Kosovo citizens, in line with the stabilisation and accession agenda. They provide a framework for good governance, allowing governments to make informed policy planning in the most transparent and accountable way,” he said.
The EU invested 6 million euros in the operation, while the overall census budget was about 10 million euros, managed through a trust fund, and administered by the UN office for project services.
Serbia, however, wants to conduct its own census in Kosovo.
Aleksandar Vulin, head of the Serb government office for Kosovo, said in September that Belgrade would hold a census to determine the number of Serbs in Kosovo.
Vulin told Serbian daily Politika it is important for Serbia to determine how many Serbs live in Kosovo, “how they live, what is their property, since the intention to hold a census is immediately tied to political motives,” reported the Serbian news agency Tanjug.
“My census idea is about enabling a more efficient distribution of everything the Serbian state sets aside for its people in Kosovo,” Vulin said.
Kosovo residents have differing opinions on the census results.
Haki Gashi, Pristina resident told SETimes he does not think the total number of Kosovo residents, especially Pristina residents, came out in the census results, but that their number is higher.
“I remember Pristina 30 years ago, how low it was, and nobody can convince me that now, with the new neighborhoods, it has the same population as in the 1980’s,” Gashi said.
Sasa Mihajlovic, a Serb from Kosovo north, is also not happy with the results.
“I don’t think anybody knows the number of Serbs in Kosovo, some have registered and some have not. For example, the displaced persons were not registered, neither were the Serbs in the north. Different figures are mentioned and nobody knows precisely how many Serbs live in Kosovo,” Mihajlovic told SETimes.