By Linda Karadaku
The first population and housing census since the country’s declaration of independence was finalised in April, with official results published last month.
Census Commission Chairman Rifat Blaku told SETimes, “We assess the census as successful, based on the international evaluation, as foreign experts also confirm.”
Blaku explained that the number of Kosovo residents came very close to the number of voters, because “the voters list was taken from the civil registry. There is a difference between census and civilian registration [civil registry],” he explained.
He admits, however, that the census “might not have been completely accurate” having had some technical errors.
“But we had no complaints,” Blaku says, adding that the census was conducted by the municipal commissions in 34 municipalities after long preparations that started in 2003, and with international assistance from Eurostat, Italian Instat, the Swedish SIDA, UNPFA and a number of countries such as Great Britain, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.
“The whole process cost about 11m euros. The margin of error is 3% to 5%. The result is 95% accurate,” Blaku told SETimes.
The Kosovo Statistics Office concluded that the overall resident population in Kosovo is 1,733,872, excluding the Serb majority municipalities in the north — Leposavic, Zubin Potok, Zvecan and Northern Mitrovica — where the census was not conducted.
After the results came out, Kosovo Statistics Office Executive Director Isa Krasniqi said the census in the north was not conducted due to objections there.
Minister for Public Administration Mahir Jagxhilar says there is no plan to try again.
“Necessary co-operation with the population, in order to conduct the census, has not been guaranteed,” Jagxhilar told Radio Free Europe.
Kosovo’s Council for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms (CPHRF) considers the 2011 census a failure, saying it does not reflect the real population numbers. The Council cited irregularities, such as complaints by citizens who were not involved in the census.
The census was not conducted in the north, which questions the legitimacy of the process. Furthermore, CPHRF points out that Kosovo citizens temporarily living abroad were excluded from the census, the majority of which are decisive in defining the social and economic conditions of Kosovo families — “the main goal of the census”, says CPHRF.
The Commission termed their exclusion a violation that needs correction, because it marked a basic violation of human rights. The headcount also had some shortcomings related to citizen information and the training of those conducting the census, the Commission said.
CPHRF asked the institution in charge to review these shortcomings and start “an extraordinary census”, accompanied by a powerful media campaign, to ensure that all those who did not participate in the last census, participate in this one.
The Kosovo Academy of Arts and Science also dismissed the results of the census and supports a new census based on proper preparations. It said that the reasons for the failure of the census “are by now known by professionals involved or not involved in the process”.
Before 2001, the census was conducted in 1981 with the participation of all communities, according to the Kosovo Statistics Office, which counted 1.6 million residents at the time.