Kosovo | Freedom House

Nations in Transit



Nations in Transit 2005

2005 Scores

Democracy Score
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


National Democratic Governance
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Electoral Process
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Civil Society
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Independent Media
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Local Democratic Governance
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


Judicial Framework and Independence
(1 = best, 7 = worst)


(1 = best, 7 = worst)

Executive Summary: 

NOTE: Freedom House presents separate ratings for Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo to provide a clearer picture of the processes and conditions in the three different territories. Doing so does not indicate a position on the part of Freedom House regarding the territorial integrity of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro; neither does it indicate a position on Kosovos future status.


The 1974 Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia provided Kosovo with dual status as an autonomous province of Serbia and a constituent part of the federation with the same rights as a full-fledged republic. Soon after the forceful abolition of Kosovo's autonomy by the Parliament of Serbia in March 1989, an apartheid system was established in which Belgrade extended privileges to Kosovar Serbs but excluded Kosovar Albanians from the public sector and systematically repressed them. In response, on July 2, 1990, Kosovo's Parliament proclaimed the territory's independence. The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), a popular movement seeking independence through peaceful means, created a government in exile and established a parallel system of education and health care supported by an unofficial 3 percent tax system. The two systems coexisted in relative peace through a status quo that lasted for nearly a decade.

However, as early as 1993, a group of political activists opposing the LDK's pacifist philosophy established the first cells of the insurgent Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Serbian military attacks against civilians in February and March 1998 helped the KLA grow from a 300-man insurgency into a 20,000-to-30,000-guerrilla force. Despite efforts by the international community to establish a negotiation process, Belgrade intensified its military campaign in the towns and villages where the KLA had taken shelter.

Alarmed by the execution of more than 40 unarmed civilians in the village of Racak in January 1999, the so-called Contact Group, consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, France, and Italy, organized talks in Rambouillet and arbitrated a deal in which international military forces would safeguard Kosovo's autonomy within Yugoslavia during an interim period, until a permanent solution on the territory's status could be negotiated.

When Belgrade rejected the deal and continued its attacks on Kosovar civilians, NATO launched an air campaign against Serbian forces on March 24, 1999. Nevertheless, during NATO's 76-day air campaign, Serbian forces continued their violence against Kosovar Albanians, killing 12,000, abducting close to 2,600 (according to International Committee of the Red Cross figures), and forcing nearly 1 million out of the region. On June 10, 1999, the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1244, establishing the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Headed by the special representative of the secretary-general (SRSG), the UNMIK was tasked with creating substantial autonomy for Kosovo within Yugoslavia until the territory's status could be resolved. Yugoslav armed forces were ordered to withdraw from Kosovo, and a NATO-led peacekeeping coalition known as the Kosovo Force, or KFOR, stepped in.

Before the deployment of the UNMIK was completed, the Kosovo provisional government, led by former KLA political leader Hashim Thaci, established itself at central and municipal levels and filled a vacuum left by the withdrawing Serbian administration. Through intense international pressure, the KLA was eventually transformed into a civilian emergency organization named the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC).

Between June and December 1999, thousands of Kosovar Serbs fled Kosovo, fearing retaliation from returning Kosovar Albanians. Those Serbs who remained in Kosovo were subject to systematic attacks and intimidation, which eventually forced them to leave the territory or to concentrate in Serb-dominated enclaves protected by the KFOR. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, around 900 Serbs, Roma, and other minorities are reported to have been killed or gone missing from January 1999 to April 2001.

In early 2000, the UNMIK invited all Kosovar political factions to participate in the Joint Interim Administration Structure, a quasi-governmental body tasked with administering Kosovo's internal affairs until the election of a parliament. For its part, the work of the UNMIK was divided into four pillars: civil administration, humanitarian emergency response, institution building and elections, and economic reconstruction and development. The Constitutional Framework for the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) provided Kosovo substantial autonomy and delineated the powers to be exercised by the UNMIK and Kosovar institutions.

The international community has spent more than US$2 billion in reconstruction, economic development, and institution building since 1999. As a result, Kosovo today has a functioning government, its own budget, a banking system, local police, a judiciary, free and fair elections, and other elements of a democratic society. Although the UNMIK retains powers such as foreign affairs, justice, police, and fiscal policy, Kosovars are taking increasing responsibility in the administration of their own affairs.

The year 2004 was marked by an outbreak of ethnic violence on March 17-18 that threatened to undo four years of postconflict development. Although the fighting was quickly halted, the incident forced the international community to rethink its policy toward Kosovo. In particular, the decision was made to accelerate the transfer of powers to Kosovo institutions in the run-up to final status discussions and thereby give domestic authorities more direct responsibility for improving the status of minorities.

Since then, the Kosovo government has assumed direct responsibility for the return of displaced Serbs, local governance, and energy and fiscal policies. A decentralization process calling for the establishment of more local-level governmental units, including in Serb-dominated areas, was begun as well. This is seen as a test of Kosovo institutions to implement policies that ensure equal rights and equitable welfare for all people of Kosovo.

Ultimately, the pace of determining Kosovo's final status will depend largely on the country's attainment of predetermined standards in a range of areas, including the treatment of Kosovo Serbs, the return of displaced persons, and the continuation of a dialogue with Belgrade. Also included in the standards are government decentralization, respect for the rule of law, protection of property rights, creation of market economy conditions, and the transformation of the KPC into a truly civilian emergency organization. While Kosovo is expected to meet certain basic standards by mid-2005, the year 2004 ended with two primary obstacles still in place: Kosovo's final status uncertainty, which sets the dynamics of the current relations with Serbia, and the status of its economic development. These two aspects represent serious sources of tension that continue to affect the political situation in Kosovo.

National Democratic Governance: 

Kosovo's new rating for national democratic governance is set at 5.75. Although there is broad consensus about the establishment of democracy in Kosovo, the events of 2004 showed that Kosovo remains a postconflict country with a fragile societal structure to support democratic developments when challenged by conflict-related issues. In particular, high interethnic tensions continue to test the foundations of the governmental system established by the UNMIK. This in turn highlights the lack of sustainable UN policies in Kosovo and the need for the timely resolution of its final status. The eruption of interethnic violence in March 2004 highlighted this institutional fragility and sounded an alarm for both Kosovar and international authorities. Quick restoration of law and order, prosecution of those responsible for the violence, and the preservation of a Kosovar-international consensus about the pursuit of the standards were the main issues of the agenda throughout 2004. Also noteworthy were steps taken by the UNMIK in the last quarter of 2004 to accelerate the pace of governmental reforms and the transfer of responsibilities to the PISG.

In the past five years, the structure of governance in Kosovo has developed into two parallel tracks based on a democratic model. UN Security Council Resolution 1244 mandated that the UNMIK create substantial self-governing autonomy for Kosovo until its final status is resolved. This principle created the basis for the existence of dual government structures, with power divided between the UNMIK and the PISG. On one side is the UNMIK, vested with powers attributable to the sovereign state and thus filling in for the suspension of Belgrade's sovereignty; and on the other is the PISG, with the power to administrate policy issues such as education, health care, local governance, public administration, and the environment.

The UNMIK supervises the security services, justice system, foreign affairs, fiscal policies, privatization, minority rights, and administration of public property. In justice, policing, customs, and other areas, the UNMIK transferred its executive powers to the lower levels of government but retained decision-making powers and political responsibility; in the areas of fiscal policy, privatization, and local governance, the PISG was included in the consultation process, with the UNMIK reserving final decision making. The UNMIK is both a peacekeeping and an administration mission with a provisional character until Kosovo's final status is decided. In the security field, the NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR acts as an independent structure responsible only to NATO.

Kosovars have generally accepted this international administration, and their participation in the democratic process is comparable to that in neighboring countries. However, Kosovo's unresolved final status has been a source of tension between Albanian and Serb ethnic communities as well as between Kosovars and the UNMIK. The international community's only public position on Kosovo's final status as stated during a Contact Group meeting in New York in September 2004 is that there can be no return to Belgrade jurisdiction over Kosovo. Belgrade and Serbs remain steadfast in their position that Kosovo is part of Serbia, whereas Kosovo Albanians hold that independence is the only realistic solution to the country's status. Other, non-Serb minority representatives (Turks, Bosniaks, Roma, Egyptian Ashkalis, and Croats) have publicly shown their support for independence.

A coalition government consisting of all parliamentary parties was in power from March 2002 to December 4, 2004, when a new government was elected. The election was based on a coalition agreement between the LDK (the largest Kosovar party) and the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK). In accordance with constitutional provisions, control of three ministries was reserved for representatives of minority communities in the following order: two ministries for Serbs and one for the parliamentary group entitled Other Minorities, which includes Turks, Bosniaks, Roma, Egyptians, and Ashkalis. The president of Kosovo, who has a ceremonial role and very limited foreign relations powers, is elected by the Kosovo Assembly. According to an unwritten rule, the LDK retained the position of president of Kosovo Dr. Ibrahim Rugova and six ministerial seats, whereas the junior coalition partner (AAK) took prime minister Ramush Haradinaj and four ministerial positions.

In contrast with the government formed following the 2002 election, which resulted from international pressure after Kosovo's inability to agree on a viable formula, the 2004 government was elected entirely through the free will of Kosovo Assembly members. The opposition consists of two main parties, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and Party ORA. The Serbian bloc consisting of two parties, the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija (SLKM) and the Civic List Serbia (CLS) refused to participate in the government as of December 31, 2004, although they presented their election lists in the ballot and gained a total of 10 reserved seats for the Serb community in the assembly.

The Law on Access to Information was approved by the assembly in 2003. However, its consistent implementation has been hampered by a lack of procedural knowledge among civil servants as well as the general lack of knowledge about the law among the population. Although civil society groups increasingly meet with the receptive PISG in public hearings and legislation discussions, access to public information continues to be a challenge at both UNMIK and PISG layers of governance.

Kosovo's citizens have especially questioned the transparency of the UNMIK, which formally is accountable only to the UN. Owing to its unlimited mandate and the lack of a clear time frame for determining Kosovo's final status, the UNMIK has come to be seen by many as a self-serving bureaucracy immune to the dynamics of democratic practices. The stalling of privatization, which is under European Union (EU) and UN authority, is an example of the international community's perceived lack of responsiveness toward the people of Kosovo, resulting in a widening gap between the citizens and the government.

Just when it seemed that stability and normalization had sufficiently returned to allow for dialogue with Belgrade and accelerating the pace of return of the displaced Serbs, Kosovo was rocked by unpredicted ethnic violence on March 17 and 18, 2004, the worst occurrence since the end of war in June 1999. In two days, four years of postconflict developments were in jeopardy. The extent of the violence caught the UNMIK, KFOR, and PISG by surprise and shook the foundations of the UN mission and Kosovar governing structures. The events were sparked by an incident in the northern village of Cabra on March 16, when three out of six Albanian children drowned in the Ibar River, allegedly chased by a group of Serbs with a dog (as recounted by one of the surviving children). Before this tragedy, interethnic tensions were already running high when the Serb inhabitants of Caglavica, near Prishtina, blocked the main highway to protest a drive-by shooting in which a Serb youngster had been wounded. The protesters blamed Albanians for the incident and attacked Kosovar Albanians driving by their village.

These two incidents triggered a chain of violent reactions in Mitrovica and Prishtina that quickly proliferated across Kosovo. An international prosecutor who investigated the drowning stated that there was insufficient evidence to open a case and that the dog described in the child's testimony could not be found. The truth about this incident was never uncovered. Security forces failed to control the situation, as rioters ignored entreaties from politicians, the UNMIK, and Kosovar Albanian leaders to stop the violence. Although former prime minister Bajram Rexhepi and some of his cabinet ministers went among the protesters in Prishtina on the evening of March 18 and convinced them not to enter Caglavica, his pleas did not keep the rioters from setting fire to the Prishtina Orthodox Church as they were dispersing. Fortunately, the appeals managed to halt the riots on March 19. Had the riots continued, the consequences would have been incalculable for Kosovo and probably the entire region. Furthermore, the UNMIK mission was seriously challenged, and a rethinking of NATO's peacekeeping mission looked imminent.

When law and order had been reestablished, three issues were made particularly clear about the UN mission. First, maintaining the status quo had failed to close the ethnic divide between Kosovar Albanians and Serbs. Second, Kosovo's final status had to be addressed sooner rather than later, and as a result, the United Nations agreed to prioritize the standards and drop the requirement that Kosovo meet all eight standards before status talks could begin. Third, moving ahead with decentralization was the only way to ensure safety for Serbs and reconcile them to the final status prospects. Complicating matters was Belgrade's continued attempts to create ethnic autonomies for Serbs within Kosovo. Since the violence of March 2004, for example, Belgrade has further cemented its de facto control over local health care, education, and security structures in northern Kosovo. Belgrade-controlled institutions also remain strong in other parts of Kosovo inhabited by the Serb minority, though to a lesser degree.

In response to the March violence, the Kosovar government allocated ¬14 million (US$16.8 million) to rebuild residential and public buildings and invited an international commission to evaluate damage to religious shrines. The government's reconstruction commission, headed by Minister of Culture Behxhet Brajshori, vigorously led the project to meet the end of October deadline; it was probably the most efficiently completed project by the government since its creation in March 2002. An additional ¬4 million ($4.8 million) was allocated to reconstruct Orthodox shrines, but the Orthodox Church leadership withdrew its consent for reconstruction.

In 2004, the KFOR made changes in its approach to maintaining security in Kosovo. Among these were the creation of restricted access zones in Serb-inhabited areas when warranted by security concerns, the establishment of closer cooperation between the UNMIK police and the Kosovo Police Service (KPS), and the improvement of the security service's capacity to deal with riots. The prompt capture of two Albanian teenagers suspected of the drive-by murder of a Serb youth in Gracanica, near Prishtina, in April was the result of direct cooperation between Serb and Albanian members of the KPS.

Changes at the highest levels of the UNMIK were also undertaken in 2004. In particular, SRSG Harri Holkeri, whose leadership had been widely criticized, resigned and was replaced by former EU envoy to Macedonia Soren Jessen-Petersen. Jessen-Petersen is considered an energetic leader capable of grappling with Kosovo's most serious challenges. As the new SRSG, he has been successfully transferring additional competencies to the PISG and pursuing a dialogue with Belgrade. Between September and December 2004, Jessen-Petersen pressed ahead with the privatization of some of Kosovo's most important industries and transferred three areas of responsibility to the Kosovo government elected in December: the return of displaced Serbs, local governance, and energy policy.

Dialogue with Belgrade on technical issues stopped after the March riots, then resumed in October with a meeting on decentralization under U.S. auspices. Belgrade's call to Kosovo Serbs to boycott the assembly elections in October resulted in a deadlock and lack of communication between the PISG, Belgrade, and Kosovo Serbs. As the new government is constituted, further developments in this area are expected.

Electoral Process: 

Kosovo's rating for electoral process improves from 5.25 to 4.75 owing to the success of the October elections to the Kosovo Assembly. International observers proclaimed the elections, which were administered by Kosovar-run bodies rather than the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to be free and fair. Sufficient mechanisms to ensure a system of checks and balances among different institutions, including the SRSG and the OSCE, were established. All parties accepted the election results, the credibility of which was confirmed by a recount of votes at the central counting center. The major deficiency of these elections was a Belgrade-encouraged boycott by Serb voters, despite efforts by the OSCE and the PISG to make all possible concessions. It is important to note, however, that even with the boycott, two Serb parties participated in the election: the SLKM and the CLS.

The second elections for the Kosovo Assembly were held on October 23, 2004. Out of 1.39 million voters, 699,519 participated in the ballot (53 percent), with an almost absolute boycott by Kosovo Serb voters due to the intensive antielection campaign by the government of Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

As in previous elections since June 1999, this ballot was a well-organized example of a democratic, fair, and transparent electoral process. The legal basis for the second assembly elections is contained in the Constitutional Framework for the PISG and UNMIK Regulation 2004/12. Kosovo has a purely proportional electoral system with closed party lists in which voters elect party representation in the Kosovo Assembly. The Constitutional Framework of Kosovo enables representation of all ethnic groups in the legislature through the system of reserved seats for minority communities. Out of 120 seats in the assembly, the political parties and independent candidates run for 100; the remaining 20 seats are reserved for minority representation, 10 for Serb candidates and 10 for other non-Serb minorities.

Before the October elections, a network of civil society activists came together under the umbrella group Reforma 2004 to advocate for open party lists that identify each party's candidates. However, the campaign got under way long after Kosovo's political parties had successfully pressured the UNMIK to approve a proportional voting system with closed lists.

The main parties that participated in the elections were the LDK, the PDK, the AAK, and the Civic List ORA (initiated by civil society activists). In spite of an almost absolute boycott by Serb voters, two Serbian groups ran for seats in the Kosovo Assembly: the SLKM and the CLS. As a rule, all minority representatives run regularly for the assembly elections. The independence platform was the most moderate of all the parties, except for the Serbian ones, which hardly campaigned. Generally, there was more focus on issues of good governance, anticorruption, employment, health care, and agriculture. Each candidate had to submit a financial statement before running, and political parties could spend no more than ¬2.00 (US$ 2.40) per voter during the entire campaign.

The election's main features were the emergence of new political parties, a large number of independent candidates, and the dissolution of some minority coalitions. The Serbian coalition Povratak and the Bosniak coalition Vatan were replaced with the new initiatives SLKM and the coalition Vakat, respectively. A new Serb entity representing displaced Serbs, the CLS, was also created. The biggest success in this election was the Civic List ORA, founded by civil society activists and led by Veton Surroi, owner of the largest Kosovo Albanian newspaper and a national TV station.

Out of 32 political parties and independent candidates that participated in the assembly elections, 19 won seats, with 10 parties occupying regular seats and 9 minority parties contesting for the reserved seats. Though no independent candidates won seats, 5 newly formed political parties are represented. The results for the main parties are similar to those in the 2001 elections, except for the Serbs, whose boycott resulted in 12 lost seats. All main parties show a decrease in votes, though the PDK and the AAK increased their representation in the assembly.

The president and government are elected from the assembly in a secret ballot. Out of the three election rounds allowed for a single candidate, a two-thirds majority in the first two rounds and 50 percent plus one vote in the third round are needed to be elected. The president of the LDK, Ibrahim Rugova, was elected president of Kosovo in the third round owing to insufficient votes in the first two rounds. He was challenged symbolically by Rame Buja, candidate of the PDK. The government led by Ramush Haradinaj, president of the AAK, won 71 out of 120 votes in the assembly's first election round.

This year's elections were administered almost entirely by Kosovo-run bodies. At the end of 2003, the OSCE transferred this function to the Central Election Commission (CEC) secretariat, with the OSCE in an advisory role. The CEC, which is headed by the OSCE head of mission in Kosovo, consists of 11 members representing main political forces and ethnic communities represented in the Kosovo Assembly. Decisions in the CEC are taken by consensus and arbitrated by the CEC head. To provide a system of checks and balances, the UNMIK has created the Election Complaints and Appeals Commission (ECAC), an independent quasi-judicial body. After the preliminary results of the assembly elections were released on October 25, a number of tabulation errors were found and prompted the ECAC on October 29 to direct the CEC to order a recount. No attempted fraud was uncovered, and the final results were very close to those before the recount.

All observers, including the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the UNMIK, and the OSCE, stated their satisfaction with the election process and turnout. SRSG Soren Jessen-Petersen said that "Kosovo has passed an exam of democracy giving a proof of its readiness to move forward in democratic governance and in meeting other standards." Speaking about the atmosphere in which the elections were held, Doris Pack, head of the European Parliament election-monitoring delegation, said, "Everyone should be proud of this election."


List of Party Names Number of Votes Percentage of Votes Number of Seats
LDK: Democratic League of Kosovo 313,437 45.42 47
PDK: Democratic Party of Kosovo 199,112 28.85 29
AAK: Alliance for the Future of Kosovo 57,931 8.39 9
ORA: Civic List ORA 43,017 6.23 7
PSHDK: Albanian Christian Democratic Party 12,427 1.8 2
KDTP: Turkish Democratic Party 8,353 1.21 3
PD: Justice Party 7,013 1.02 1
K. Vakat-Bosniak 4,972 0.72 3
LPK: People's Movement of Kosovo 4,526 0.66 1
Others 35,759 5.00 18


Two Serb political parties participated in the 2004 ballot: the SLKM (8 reserved seats) and the CLS (2 reserved seats), consisting of Serb displaced persons in Serbia. Urged by the Serbian government and the Serbian Orthodox Church, Kosovo Serb voters opted for an almost absolute boycott of the election, with fewer than 1,000 ballots cast. In fact, the Serbian prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, conditioned the participation of the Serb voters with the international endorsement of Belgrade's plan for ethnic autonomy for Kosovo Serbs, approved by the Serbian Parliament on April 29, 2004. Promises that elements of Belgrade's plan could be included in the Document for the Reform of the Local Government, endorsed by the Prishtina-led Working Group on Decentralization, did not convince Kostunica, who contended that Serb participation in the elections would be a blow to his government's efforts to push successfully for ethnic autonomy for Kosovo Serbs.

In the last moment, Serbian president Boris Tadic urged Kosovo Serbs to vote. This appeal was quickly undermined by the Serbian Orthodox Church, which promoted the boycott. Both the UNMIK and some Serbian politicians who participated in the elections reported various forms of voter pressure and coercion by antielection activists sponsored by Belgrade. Although the Constitutional Framework provided two Serb parties with 10 seats in the assembly, the seats remained vacant through the end of 2004.

Civil Society: 

Kosovo's rating for civil society improves from 4.25 to 4.00. In 2004, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were active in advocating for better anticorruption legislation and strategies, in providing expert commentary at public hearings, and in forming coalitions aimed at achieving common goals. The creation of coalitions among different civil society groups in 2004 highlights an increasing maturity and issue-driven focus of NGOs, whereas their influence at the municipal level has increased significantly. NGOs also received more substantial media coverage owing to increased public interest in their activities. During the year, the government began providing funding to civil society groups and, along with the UNMIK, approved changes in the fiscal policies and compensation of workers during privatization as a result of pressure from trade unions and business associations. While all these developments point to the increasing maturity of Kosovo's civil society sector, important challenges still remained. In particular, the activities of radical and vigilante groups continued to cause political tensions during the year.

The law governing the registration of NGOs and their activities, Regulation 1999/22, was enacted in November 1999. It is highly permissive, allowing for easy registration and unrestricted activities. Currently, more than 2,000 NGOs are registered with the NGO registration office, which functions under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Services. Many NGOs are nonfunctioning or were created on an ad hoc basis during the flood of donor money into Kosovo from 1999 to 2002. It is believed that about 150 NGOs continue to function in Kosovo.

There has been a significant rise in the vibrancy and organizational capacity of civil society groups in the last five years. However, with the gradual decrease in international donations over the same period, the viability of many NGOs is challenged. Support from the Kosovo government is insufficient, although government financing of the nongovernment sector has seen a substantial increase in the last year. In 2004, there was substantial progress in the sector's capacity to efficiently identify and represent civic interests as well as advocate on specific issues. In addition, many NGOs have used networking to increase their influence in particular areas, such as anticorruption advocacy.

AVOCO, an NGO network with advocacy initiatives on a wide range of issues, appears to be one of the most sustainable. The Network of Kosovar Women has been successful in campaigning for equal rights and empowering the role of women in society. The Association of Missing Persons Families is another network that actively pressures the UNMIK and the PISG to convince Serbia to release information about the fate of Kosovar Albanians missing since 1999 and the return of bodies exhumed from the mass graves found in Serbia.

All religious groups are active in charitable activities, with the Catholic organization Mother Theresa being the only one providing aid to members of other faiths. The Kosovo Islamic Community (KIC) represents 90 percent of Kosovo's Muslim population. During the 2004 parliamentary election campaign, the KIC criticized the Justice Party of Kosovo for "abusing religious values for political ends" during the election campaign. The KIC's position reflects the secular nature of Kosovar society. Following a period of withdrawal from political activities, the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo, led by Bishop Artemije, returned to the political scene in 2004 as a protector of Kosovar Serb nationalism and campaigned actively for a boycott of the assembly elections.

On the other side, the associations of former KLA members Association of War Veterans, Association of War Invalids, and Association of the Families of KLA Martyrs have been active in public campaigns for the release of KLA members arrested or sentenced for war crimes and the like. As vigilante organizations that claim to represent the values of the liberation war, they are known as politically engaged groups opposing the LDK-AAK coalition following the October 23 elections.

NGOs maintain good relations with the media. This enables them to attract both public and government attention through print and broadcast media coverage of their activities, which is substantial.

Almost every interest group and profession in Kosovo is organized into associations, either business, cultural, or some other form. Business groups have been successful in advocating their views on economic policy, particularly as it relates to import and export taxes to stimulate domestic production. In spite of the initial lack of receptiveness by the UNMIK, which is responsible for setting fiscal policies and other macroeconomic policies, associations representing businesses have successfully mobilized the government and achieved several changes in UNMIK fiscal policies relating to the decrease of import taxes in agricultural machinery, and raw materials. On the other side, trade unions have been actively pursuing workers' interests in the privatization process and collective contracts. The Kosovo Trade Unions Federation has successfully closed deals with the government and the UNMIK on both issues. While 20 percent of funds from privatization are distributed equally to the workers of respective enterprises, collective contracts signed in October 2004 provide minimal protection for workers. However, trade unions remain weak in the private sector, where disrespect for labor law is most egregious.

The public University of Prishtina has become a political arena in which the LDK (in charge of education in the government) and the PDK (controlling the highest governing bodies in the university) have collided over the issue of university control. As a result, relations between the university rectorate and the Ministry of Education have been tense. Most managing positions in the university are allocated according to party allegiances, and the two officially recognized student organizations side with one or the other political party. In September 2004, the election for top university positions was questioned by the Ministry of Education. Former PDK vice president Dr. Arsim Bajrami, the PDK's candidate for assembly member, was elected rector of the University of Prishtina. The Ministry of Education accused university leadership of manipulating the election and filed a suit in the Kosovo Supreme Court. The conflict has complicated the university's cooperation with foreign partners and the implementation of Bologna process reforms. The Supreme Court did not rule on this matter until the end of 2004; meanwhile, the new rector continued to be unrecognized by the ministry and other international partners.

Mitrovica University in Slavic Languages, as recognized by UNMIK and the PISG (which in the parallel system sponsored by Belgrade is labeled "The University of Prishtina") is also subject to political interference by the Government in Belgrade. In April, the Ministry of Education of Serbia unlawfully replaced Gojko Savic, then rector of the university, with the hard-line Milosevic loyalist Radivoje Papovic, who had been rector of the University of Prishtina in the 1990s and had opposed the return of Albanian students to university facilities in 1997. Although supported by north Mitrovica hard-liners who stand for Kosovo's partition, Papovic's appointment was protested by the European University Association as well as the Serbian Association of University Rectors, who viewed this as setting a precedent for continued government involvement in the universities in Serbia. The Serbian government's authority to dismiss or appoint officials in Kosovo institutions in areas with a Serb majority highlights Belgrade's de facto control of these institutions in defiance of the UNMIK mandate, in spite of continuing UN calls for Belgrade to disband parallel institutions in Kosovo.

Independent Media: 

Kosovo's rating for independent media remains 5.50. Freedom of speech in Kosovo is limited by various forms of pressure from both government and nongovernment actors. Attacks on investigative reporters are rare, but they can be deadly, while verbal threats continue to affect the work of journalists and editors. Libel is treated as a criminal offense. However, on the positive side, independent newspapers have higher circulation than party-aligned papers and focus increasingly on investigative reporting. The public enjoys a diverse selection of media at both national and local levels, while all linguistic communities have TV and radio stations in their own languages.

Kosovo media operate in a postconflict environment where tensions among ethnic and political groups run high. With hate speech a major concern in the aftermath of the Kosovo war, the UNMIK considers free speech and editorial independence to be matters of security and peacekeeping rather than strictly human rights issues. The murder of a Serb in 2000 in Prishtina, presumably instigated by an article in the (then) newspaper Dita, triggered national debate about the consequences of hate speech in postconflict Kosovo. As a result, the UNMIK approved Regulation 2000/37, On the Conduct of the Print Media in Kosovo, and its associated code of conduct, and Regulation No. 2000/4, On the Prohibition Against Inciting to National, Racial, Religious, or Ethic Hatred, Disorder, or Intolerance. The body responsible for overseeing media and implementing these regulations is the Kosovo Temporary Media Commissioner (TMC), a quasi-judicial and -reporting agency that issues broadcast media licenses and imposes administrative fines on media for regulation violations. Although journalists have generally criticized these regulations as UNMIK tools for limiting press freedom, numerous complaints of hate speech have been filed at the TMC, indicating a need for some form of control over several print media offenders.

The term irresponsible journalism has been used frequently by the UNMIK and the OSCE to describe media reporting, particularly during the interethnic violence of March 17 and 18, 2004. The TMC and the OSCE accused media, especially TV broadcasters, of reporting irresponsibly about the drowning of the Albanian children on March 16, asserting that this may have instigated the violence against Serbs that took place in the following days. The interview on public TV station RTK with the surviving boy who described a chase with a dog by local Serbs was targeted in particular as a biased and a nonverified report. It indeed contained emotional commentaries and accusations that might have affected public sentiment. The media's response was that the reporting had to be done and that official police and judicial sources were not available, nor were they prepared to respond to media inquiries. In actuality, the international administration and police did not address the situation publicly until March 18, by which time rumors were being reported as truth.

No particular measure was taken against the media regarding the March 16-18 reporting. However, the media had to sign a binding agreement with the TMC that contained an acceptance of moral responsibility for reporting on the March riots and a pledge to report objectively in similar cases.

Instead of being a civil code issue, libel in Kosovo is included under the criminal code and many of the pending legal charges appear to be politically motivated or selectively applied. Currently, the newspaper Bota Sot is facing criminal charges for libel for statements printed against a member of the presidency of the PDK and at the same time is facing charges for public offense.  Notwithstanding the March reporting of events, more professional reporting on the side of the media could be observed during the second half of the year.

The Law on Access to Official Documents (freedom of information) was approved by the Kosovo Assembly on June 16, 2003, and was enacted by the SRSG on November 6, 2003. However, access to documents at the PISG is hardly free, and there is an utter lack of knowledge by journalists and the media on procedures for accessing public documents. Journalists tend to receive information from official press releases and briefings, and there is rarely any effort to research statements or denounce the noncompliance of public officials.

Sectors under control of the UNMIK are some of the most difficult areas to cover owing to a persistent lack of transparency, which characterizes the UNMIK style of governance. The Prishtina daily Zeri is an exception, since it is uniquely supplied with regular, confidential information through the Zeri editors' extensive network of diplomatic contacts.

Reporters and editors persistently receive verbal threats and other forms of pressure for their reporting. Physical attacks against journalists are not uncommon and sometimes prove deadly. The case of an armed attack in September 2004 against one of the most prominent investigative journalists in Kosovo, Fatmire Terdevci of Koha Ditore, reopened the topic of the protection of journalists from attacks by criminal and political groups, particularly since these were frequently seen in the immediate aftermath of the 1999 conflict. Public reaction to these incidents is low, and the lack of protection forces journalists and editors to apply self-censorship. There are also cases where security forces (the KFOR and police) prevent journalists from reporting on particular events.

Kosovo has six printed media, all privately owned. Bota Sot and Epoka e Re are politically aligned newspapers (LDK and PDK, respectively), and both regularly use hate and derogatory speech against political opponents. This was especially the case during the 2004 election campaign. The independence of Koha Ditore has suffered somewhat from the politics of its publisher, Veton Surroi, particularly in regard to the LDK campaign reporting. Surroi formed the Civic List ORA, which won seven seats in the assembly. Although he has stated he will not interfere in Koha Ditore's editorial policies, and has resigned from all functions in the newspapers, sympathies between ORA and Koha Ditore during the election campaign were visible. However, the newspaper maintained its objectivity in a broader sense.

The print media market has improved, with Koha Ditore retaining the lead in terms of circulation. According to reports, Koha Ditore is followed by Bota Sot and Zeri. These reports are disputed by the latter as subjective. However, the print media are not enthusiastic about disclosing their real circulation, which they treat as a business secret, even if they dispute polls on the circulation. A realistic estimate would be 5,000 to 15,000 copies for the major newspapers.

TV and radio licensing is currently under UNMIK control. Three national TV stations cover about 80 percent of the country's territory; two are private (KTV and TV 21) and one is public (RTK). Broadcast licensing has not been reviewed, and for the time being the broadcast market is closed.

As has been the case for some years, minority-language broadcasting is carried through RTK, each language section having autonomous editorial policies within the boundaries set by UNMIK regulations. As for print media, the main source of information for Serbs remains Belgrade-based media and local radio stations. Other language groups, such as the Turks, also have local radio broadcasting in their own languages.


Linguistic Representation of Licensed Broadcasters in Kosovo*

Language Albanian-Language Media Serbian-Language Media Bosniak Language Media Turkish-Language Media Gorani-Language Media Mixed Language Media
Radio 50 20 3 2 1 16
Televison 17 7 None None None 2
Total Stations 67 27 3 2 1 18

Source: Kosovo Temporary Media Commissioner, Annual Report 2002
* Electronic media licensed by the TMC originate in Kosovo. Other, non-Kosovar radio stations, including Belgrade and Macedonian radio, and TV stations are currently on the air in some areas, mainly those inhabited by Serbs.

Local Democratic Governance: 

Kosovo's new rating for local democratic governance is set at 5.50. All powers in Kosovo have been devolved to the local governments by the UNMIK, although some central-level legislation supersedes provisions of local government legislation. Municipal councils manage their own finances and have the power to collect property taxes. The decentralization process has resulted in a document that envisages substantial self-administration of local communities. Municipal councils have diverse political and ethnic representation as a result of free and fair elections held in 2002. On the negative side, nepotism and political allegiances continue to influence the recruitment of senior municipal officers, and transparency mechanisms have not proved sufficiently effective. In addition, Belgrade continues to illegally control various sectors at the local governance level in Serb-majority areas.

Kosovo has 30 municipalities, with populations ranging from as low as 15,000 in Zvecan to as high as an estimated 600,000 in Prishtina. At the end of 2003, the UNMIK withdrew its international municipal administrators and transferred all competencies of local governance to elected representatives. The UNMIK retained a supervisory role through its regional administrations, which report to the UNMIK about the performance of the local councils in their geographic areas of responsibility.

As with the central elections, a proportional system is used to elect municipal councils, which in turn elect the president of the council and two vice presidents. The municipal governments are chosen through competitive vacancy announcements for a four-year term. However, by an unwritten rule, all senior officers are chosen according to their party loyalties, indicating a noncompetitive selection process. Although a formal distinction between political appointees and civil servants at the municipal level is clear, party allegiances are the most important criteria for selecting senior public officers.

The second municipal elections held in November 2002 marked the beginning of the complete transfer of authority from the UNMIK administration to the elected municipal councils. The participation of all ethnic communities in the 2002 municipal elections helped create legitimate governments representing the will of local communities in all Kosovar municipalities. As a result, the LDK rules in 18 municipalities; the PDK dominates 6 municipal councils; the AAK rules in 1; and the Serb parties rule in 5 municipalities.

Municipal authorities are in charge of administering preschool, primary, and secondary education; primary health care; public transport; and construction inspection. As a result of capacity building and stricter procurement and finance administration rules developed within EU standards in 2003, the UNMIK and the Ministry of Finance have completed the certification of 27 municipalities to manage their own finances. Public spending is under better control, thanks to the introduction of the FreeBalance system, which increases cash flow control and consistency of financial reporting through permanent access to financial data between the treasury and all budgetary spending levels. This is a vertical system of budgetary spending, with checks and balances set up at all levels to authorize and approve the certification process for every public Euro (1 Euro=US$1.2) that is spent. In addition, every purchase from the budget is controlled at the central level by the treasury officer. Although this system creates frustrating procurement delays, the standards for control are set at a high level.

Three majority Serb municipalities Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan, which are situated in northern Kosovo remain uncertified because they have yet to comply with the agreed-upon financial standards and regulations as a result of Belgrade's influence in their administrative practices. Two other majority Serb municipalities, Novobrdo and Shtrpce, were certified in 2003. All Serb-ruled municipalities and their public institutions continue to receive finances from the Kosovo Consolidated Budget (KCB) and from the budget of the Serbian government. All municipal employees and elected representatives continue to receive two salaries, one from the KCB and one from Belgrade. The divided town of Mitrovica has two parallel administrations: one elected in the 2002 elections, which functions in the southern section, and the Belgrade-sponsored administration functioning in the northern section. Municipal budgets are filled from self-revenues as well as from the central level. In 2003, property taxes, which are collected at the municipal level, became an important resource for local government budgets, although the level of tax collection remains low.

The main challenges of local governments in Kosovo are the persistence in illegal (unlicensed) construction, inconsistent enforcement of decisions and regulations at the local level, and the increase of local capacity and resources. Municipal administrations suffer from limitations that impede their ability to improve the life of citizens. Local government powers defined by the current legislation on local government (Regulation 2000/45) are superseded by other UNMIK regulations that allow substantial interference by the central government. These powers include the administration of public utilities, forests, and the environment; social and public enterprises; and the use of public land. The UNMIK has retained these powers because the concept of public property is attributed to sovereign states. This situation creates problems for Kosovo in attracting domestic and foreign investment. For example, municipalities cannot lease public land without UNMIK approval. Yet when a U.S. construction firm applied for a 99-year land lease in Prishtina, substantial delays by the UN to approve the lease forced the company to abandon the project because the UNMIK could not grant a 99-year lease without permission from New York. Likewise, municipal utility companies continue to fall outside the authority of municipal councils.

Public hearings on various legislative initiatives have increased in number and quality at the local level. Reportedly, there is more NGO influence at the local level than at the central level owing to the proximity of local governments and citizen associations.

Decentralization of local governance in Kosovo has been debated continuously since November 2002, when it was launched by then SRSG Michael Steiner to induce participation by Kosovo Serbs in the second municipal elections. To address increasing demands of the Serbian community for self-governance, the UNMIK has commissioned the Council of Europe to draft a proposal on the decentralization of local government in Kosovo. In a document entitled the Reform of the Local Government and Public Administration in Kosovo, the Council of Europe envisaged the creation of approximately 180 municipal units in Kosovo. The main principle of the proposal is to harmonize the municipal units' territories and demographics with the devolution of powers from bigger municipalities (like Prishtina, with an estimated 600,000 inhabitants) to local communities not exceeding 20,000 to 25,000 inhabitants. According to this proposal, the restructuring of the local government should take into account social, geographic, and economic characteristics. A by-product of this principle would be the creation of new municipal units in the majority Serb

Judicial Framework and Independence: 

Kosovo's rating for judicial framework and independence improves from 6.00 to 5.75. The highest authority to interpret the Constitution of Kosovo lies with the UNMIK. Although international judges and prosecutors continue to handle the most serious cases of interethnic violence, terrorism, and organized crime, local professionals took on some cases related to the March 2004 ethnic violence and were viewed by observers as showing no bias in their performance. The provisional criminal code, which came into force on April 1, 2004, provides improved protections for the rights of the accused. At the same time, the new code enhances the mechanisms for a more effective prosecution of sensitive criminal offenses. Although the Constitution and other applicable laws provide for highest human rights standards endorsed by the PISG, ongoing interethnic and political tensions continue to make protection of these rights the most significant challenge facing Kosovo's judicial system. However, it is worth noting that in 2004, minority access to Kosovo courts improved owing to the opening of municipal court liaison offices in Serb-majority areas.
On June 10, 1999, the UN Security Council approved Resolution 1244, which established the UNMIK and effectively suspended the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's sovereignty in Kosovo. Until the country's final status is resolved, Resolution 1244 gives the UNMIK legislative, judicial, and executive powers.

To prevent a legal vacuum following the collapse of the Serbian administration in Kosovo, the UNMIK also established a legal system based on Kosovo and Yugoslav laws existing pre March 28, 1989; nondiscrimination laws approved after 1989; UNMIK regulations; and international human rights conventions. The talks between the UNMIK and Kosovar political representatives in 2001 resulted in the approval of the Constitutional Framework for the PISG, which produced a dual system of governance with executive and legislative powers shared between the UNMIK and the PISG. In addition to being a caretaker for the PISG, the UNMIK has direct administrative responsibilities in all areas involving sovereignty issues, such as foreign affairs, justice and police, fiscal policy, customs, and minorities, and is accountable to the UN Security Council. The Supreme Court of Kosovo is responsible for the interpretation of the Constitution. However, the UNMIK retains final say in all legal and constitutional matters. The police and judiciary fall under the jurisdiction of the UNMIK, with administrative issues pertaining to the judiciary transferred to the PISG Ministry of Public Services.

Five years into the UN administration, the chief concern is respect for the human rights of Kosovo Serbs. Freedom of movement, property rights, and the ability of Kosovo Serbs to return and resettle remain seriously limited owing to 1999 war-related tensions, which makes the implementation of applicable human rights conventions difficult. The eruption of massive violence against Serbs in March 2004 indicates that the 1998-1999 war-related animosities between Albanians and Serbs have not yet been replaced by peaceful coexistence. The country's uncertain final status and conflicting aspirations of Albanians and Serbs are the main reasons for persistent interethnic animosities.

The provisional criminal code of Kosovo and criminal procedure code came into effect on April l1, 2004, after being approved by the assembly. The main features of the criminal code and procedure code include strengthening prosecutorial capacity, streamlining proceedings, and enhancing the protection of persons involved in the criminal justice system. The rights of the accused have also been expanded. New offenses have been introduced into the provisional criminal code to enable the prosecution of the most sensitive cases. Some of these relate directly to the situation in Kosovo, and some relate to global security. The new criminal offenses include terrorism; unauthorized crossing of borders and boundaries; genocide and crimes against humanity, war crimes, and command responsibility; offense of torture; offenses involving nuclear materials; offenses against aircraft and civil aviation safety; and hostage taking and trafficking in persons.

The provisional criminal code has enhanced human rights protection of defendants, enabling them to make court motions and exercise other rights, which according to the previous applicable criminal codes (Kosovo 1989, Serbia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) belonged only to the prosecution. The code further allows for a defense counsel to be appointed at public expense in a wider range of circumstances than under the previous applicable codes. A new feature of this code is also the protection of witnesses and crime victims. And pending bilateral agreements, the code will authorize the transfer of Kosovo residents who are wanted by foreign jurisdictions on criminal charges.

Since March 2003, data on the prosecution of serious offenses has shown an 89 percent rate of convictions. Most serious offenses related to interethnic crimes, terrorism, and organized crime are prosecuted and tried by an international judicial staff of 24 judges and prosecutors. These cases are taken up by international personnel because the independence of Kosovar judges and prosecutors is frequently compromised by threats and fear of repercussions. Even so, Kosovar judges and prosecutors have gradually become more involved in prosecuting and/or convicting serious crimes, and they now handle all civil cases and 97 percent of criminal cases, according to UNMIK reports.

Currently, there are 311 judges and 84 prosecutors, of which 278 judges are Albanian, 16 Serb, and 17 from other ethnicities. Seventy-eight prosecutors are Albanian, 2 are Serb, and 4 belong to other ethnic groups. The integration of Serb judicial personnel within the Kosovar justice system remains problematic owing to the parallel judicial structures in the northern section of Mitrovica. In fact, Serbian judicial personnel are threatened by Belgrade with loss of employment and social benefits if they are integrated into the UNMIK's justice system. However, owing to the inadequacies of the Belgrade-controlled parallel courts, Kosovo Serbs increasingly file their suits in the Kosovo-UNMIK court system.

Efforts were made throughout 2004 to improve Kosovo Serbs' access to courts and services, including the opening of municipal court liaison offices in majority Serb populated areas. However, since 1999 a parallel structure of courts, answerable to Belgrade and not the UNMIK, has developed in Kosovo and continues to exist in predominantly Serb enclaves. The parallel courts have evolved because of a lack of recognition of the UNMIK structures by the Kosovo Serbs who remained in Kosovo after the conflict.

The immediate response to the March riots by police and the judiciary consisted of more than 500 arrests based on suspicions of riot organizing and committing crimes such as murder and attempted murder, arson, looting, theft, and public disorder. As of October 2004, 348 cases were brought before the courts. Of these, 98 were still being investigated, 79 persons were indicted and awaiting trial, and 171 cases have been completed. One hundred additional police investigators, 6 international prosecutors, and 3 judges were requisitioned to increase the justice system's investigative capacity. The role of international judicial personnel is considered necessary owing to fears of bias from Kosovar judges, particularly relating to terrorism and interethnic and political crimes. All cases in the minor offenses courts were handled by Kosovar judges and prosecutors. The OSCE mission, which is mandated with monitoring the justice system, observed no bias among the Kosovar judicial personnel, although the large backlog of cases has created problems for courts and correctional services.

Creation of the KPS is nearing completion, with 6,000 Kosovar police officers now on the job. Kosovo Serb police officers number 567 (9.5 percent of the total) and are included in all commanding structures. So far, the UNMIK has transferred command to the KPS in 17 police stations, with a complete transfer of 33 stations to take place by mid-2005.

The UNMIK has pursued regional police cooperation since 2001. Criminal activity in Kosovo is frequently based on regional criminal cooperation and includes human trafficking, movement of terrorist groups, and vehicle theft. As opposed to other areas of society, cooperation between Kosovar and Serbian criminal groups has proved to be quite effective, particularly in human trafficking, illegal prostitution, drug trafficking, weapons trading, and vehicle theft. So far, various policing agreements have been signed with Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro. A number of arrests, including two suspected terrorists in a 2001 Nis bus bombing that killed 11 Serbs, were made as a result of this international cooperation. Other joint activities and mutual support such as information exchange and border control, especially with Albania and Macedonia are well established.


Kosovo's rating for corruption remains at 6.00. The year 2004 was marked by increased attention to anticorruption initiatives on the part of the PISG, civil society, and international organizations such as the Council of Europe, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the UNMIK. Several high-profile corruption-related arrests during the year were noteworthy as well. Nevertheless, public confidence in anticorruption efforts remained undermined by weak transparency and inconsistent implementation of corruption-related legislation by the UNMIK and the Kosovo government. The absence of a whistle-blower charter also continued to cause a restraint among public officials who wish to publicly disclose corrupt practices.

Simply recognizing corruption as a problem has been one of the most important advances so far in Kosovo's anticorruption efforts. Corruption has its roots in Kosovo's state-controlled economy as well as the decade-long lack of a democratic institutional framework to serve public interests. Tolerance for corrupt practices and an absence of proper mechanisms for holding public officials accountable further enable the persistence of corruption. Four areas appear to be most affected: public utilities, customs, public procurement, and local government. The health care and pharmaceutical sectors are influenced as well.

This year was marked by an increased focus on anticorruption initiatives by the Kosovo government, NGOs, and international organizations such as the Council of Europe, the UNDP, and the UNMIK. On March 17, the government of Kosovo launched its Anticorruption Strategy, a joint product of the government, civil society groups, the UNMIK, and other organizations. The Prime Minister's Office for Good Governance, Human Rights, and Equal Opportunities (Good Governance Office hereinafter) and the Council of Europe mission in Kosovo have been working on the Action Plan for the Implementation of Anticorruption, which consists of three main elements: prevention, enforcement, and public awareness.

In preparation for the action plan, the Good Governance Office and the UNDP conducted a survey on public perceptions of corruption and found that 82 percent of respondents considered corruption to be a daily problem. According to those surveyed, low public sector salaries, greed, moral crisis, judicial inefficiency, and imperfect legislation are the main causes of corruption. The exchange of bribes for better service indicates that citizens are more tolerant of corruption in health care, education, and employment than they are of corruption in the government, judiciary, and fiscal system. The most trusted institutions are the KPS, the KPC, and the KFOR.

Kosovars under the age of 25 (52 percent of the total population of Kosovo) are the intended target for the government's Anticorruption Strategy. This sector of the population has a lower level of tolerance for corrupt practices in comparison with other age groups. Additionally, it is believed that public perceptions about the acceptability of bribery in the workplace may change in light of revelations in 2004 about corruption at the Airport of Prishtina and the disappearance of a young man reportedly involved in collecting bribes on behalf of airport officials.

The UNMIK has the ultimate authority to enforce anticorruption measures regarding the police and the judicial system. The PISG is in charge of administrative aspects within its responsibilities by creating and enforcing regulations. In 2004, the SRSG enacted the Regulation on the Deterrence of Money Laundering, which provides for greater transparency in financial transactions that exceed a certain amount. Previously, huge bank transactions from Kosovo to Montenegro suspected money laundering were reported to have been taking place among Chinese shopkeepers who started coming to Kosovo from Serbia in 2000.

The most drastic yet unexplained case of corruption happened during the bid in 2004 for a second mobile telephone provider. The UNMIK canceled the bid after the Ministry of Telecommunications and the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (TRA) signed the license contract with the winning company, Mobitel-Mobikos. The cancellation came after an independent review of the tender claimed numerous irregularities in the preselection procedures. However, these irregularities were never explained in detail, which left room for speculation and confusion about the decision's fairness. In addition, no judicial or administrative measure was taken against the TRA officials responsible for administering the telecommunications tender.

In spite of the declared political will to curb corruption, Kosovo's anticorruption efforts leave much to be desired. First, the lack of a whistle-blower charter continues to cause restraint among public officials who might otherwise wish to publicly disclose corrupt practices. Second, implementation of the public information legislation has stalled because the Office of the Prime Minister has failed to issue instructions regarding the classification of documents to ministries and other government agencies. Third, delays in creating the Central Procurement Agency are frequently blamed on the desire of some key ministers to control government tenders, which are suspected to be the main source of illegal income for government officials. So far, no government agency has reported to the justice system a case of corruption within its ranks, in spite of ever increasing reports by media of alleged corruption. The PISG is obliged to regularly advertise job vacancies and calls for tenders in the media and does so. Fourth, although investigations at public enterprises, such as the Post and Telecommunication Company of Kosovo and the Airport of Prishtina, led to several high-profile arrests in 2004, no individuals had been brought to trial by the end of 2004. This, in turn, reinforced public perceptions that individuals who engage in corruption are seldom brought to justice. Finally, the fact that the Office of the Auditor-General is not required to publicly disclose investigation findings strengthens public sentiment that there is insufficient transparency at all levels of government, including within the UNMIK.