KosovaLive360

Foreign individual investments increase employment and improve Kosovo’s image

Until December 2016, an overall of 182 million euro was invested in Kosovo from outside the country, a decrease of 32 percent compared to the previous year.

An investments decrease, according to the Central Bank of the Republic of Kosovo, was observed in the sectors of real estate, construction, and financial services.

On the other side, until June 2016, the biggest capital was invested by Switzerland, Turkey, Albania, and Austria…, emphasizes a report of the Central Bank of the Republic of Kosovo.

Even though there are no statistics for direct foreign investments for the first half of 2017, what is noticeable is that they are mainly individual initiatives for small businesses and are mainly in the biggest urban centers.

A foreigner who has made Prishtina his home, the Spanish Francisko, opened his restaurant three years ago in one of the most frequented streets of the capital – known as “small coffee shops street.”

A lawyer by profession, Francisko today has one of the most well-known restaurants in Prishtina. He says that the society influenced his decision to participate in the cooking competition “MasterChef Albania.”

After the end of the competition, he decided to open his first restaurant in Albania, but adds that his first idea was to open a restaurant in Kosovo. He achieved this after a year.

“I had no difficulties regarding administrative issues. These things function very well in Kosovo. In Albania it is a real mess, at least during the time I was there,” he told KosovaLive.

Francisko says that initially, he had problems with employees, specifically chefs. Consequently, he was forced to employ chefs from Albania.

Currently, the restaurant has 7 employees. He is proud that in his restaurant foods are only prepared based on his original recipes. However, he noticed that Kosovo is lacking a professional catering school. For this reason, he is planning to open a professional catering school. He is aware that it is a huge investment, and he expects help from the Government of Kosovo.

“Catering has a lot of importance in the development of tourism since it is one of the main things that remain on tourists’ mind during their journeys.”

After three years in Kosovo, he also managed to open a second business.

“I’m also a wine exporter. I have imported over 10 thousand bottles of Spanish vine. All customs procedures have been very quick and went quite well. We did not have any problems,” he asserts.

Francisko is not just a good chef and businessman. He has his permanent clientele and is in love with Kosovo. For this reason, it is not difficult for him to lobby in his country, Spain, for the recognition of Kosovo as an independent country.

“I promote Kosovo a lot. I did some interviews on some very prestigious television shows and in magazines in Spain. I even had complaints that they did not recognize Kosovo as a country. The fact that Kosovo is independent is an unquestionable fact,” he declared for KosovaLive.

However, he thinks that Kosovo should invest more in education, since, as he says, “without education, there will not be neither health nor adequate services.”

As for foreign investments, like his restaurant, he considers that it is a very good opportunity that citizens of Kosovo get acquainted with other cultures, and there is also a contribution to the economic development.

Francisko is not the only owner of a small business in Prishtina.

Chelsea Charles left Texas in the United States of America to live in Kosovo. She came here six years ago to do a research for a Non-Governmental organization, but only three months later she moved here.

She started her business, the hostel named “Buffalo Backpackers.”

Charles says she was very enthusiastic to start her business. Initially, she only helped internationals as a guide during their visits to Kosovo. After this, between working in the NGO and tourism, she chose to work on tourism, what she does today as well. It is more than a full-time job for her, since running a business keeps her busy all the time, but she thinks it is worth helping this country.

“It was easy starting the business regarding documents, but there are several challenges after that. Also, running a business on your own means learning a lot of new things every day and never stopping,” Chelsea says.

Small businesses bring small profit, she says, and adds that this has to do more with the passion you have for work than the money.

She has two employees but also has volunteers who help her in small things. During these six years, guests from almost all the world have stayed at her hostel: North America, Europe, Asia and the Balkans.

“I’m planning to live in Kosovo. I’m in the process of getting citizenship in Kosovo. I want to do more regarding opening small businesses, something that would help the economy,” she says.

Another wish of hers is to become the voice of women, that all those who have ideas and business plans are able to start their businesses. Also, she wants to lobby for more gender equality in the workplace.

“I am a girl who loves Kosovo. This country is my priority in life,” she says.

According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics, compared to 2015, in which 46 small companies with international owners were opened, there has been a slight increase of foreign investments in 2016. In 2017, 52 small businesses have been registered with international owners and 642 businesses with two or more owners, one of them international.

 

Shqipdona Ademaj

 

From acting and marketing to agriculture and farming

The municipality of Junik is one of the smallest municipalities in Kosovo, with only 12,500 inhabitants, but with 36 animal farms and 12 bee farms.

Currently, there is no exact statistic of the number of unemployed or employed in the municipality of Junik.

In 2012, the rate of unemployment was 77.4%, but back then there were not many family farms that produced for the market. Nowadays the situation has changed.

Ali Gacaferi, the official, and counselor for Agriculture and Rural Development at the municipality of Junik, says that agriculture has created new opportunities for employment and municipal development.

“The number of the employed has increased by the opening of these farms, where over 20 hectares apples, 15ha raspberries, 10ha cherries, and 5ha blueberries… by planting these orchards the number of the employed has increased,” Gacaferi says.

Armanda Gjocaj, a marketing graduate from Junik, is one of the few women in this municipality who has her own business. She alone leads the “Manda SHPK” farm, in which she grows blueberries and raspberries in a space of around 8 hectares.

She received her first donation worth 95 thousand euro from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development (MAFRD).

She says that last year she left her job in Prishtina and started a business which was “her family`s dream.”

Her brothers and her mother live in Germany. She has four employees and two administrators. She is trying to break the taboo that “women are not for agriculture.”

“For me as a woman, it has been very difficult. First I am young, and then our mindset is well known that jobs in agriculture are not trusted to women. I offered jobs to women but they did not respond to it that much. They were my first option since many of them are the head of the family. I will take them into consideration again in summer,” said Gjoci.

According to her, selling products in the market is a challenge due to rivalry. Since it is the first year, Armanda thinks she will sell her products only in Kosovo and later expand business outside Kosovo.

Veton Beqaj, also from Junik, an economics graduate who has owned his farm “C-Farm” for two years now and who also grows blueberries and raspberries, says that agriculture is a profitable business.

“As an economist, I analyzed the potential in agriculture and noticed that it can be profitable for me if I do this job. Also, the financing of the MAFRD played a great role. The plantation planting was done using that financing,” Beqaj says.

There are eight full-time employees and an agronomist on this farm. Beqaj explains that during summer season they engage other employees, including women.

“Gender does not play a role, but work does. For that reason, at our farm we employ men and women,” Beqaj says.

There also are 12 bee farms with more than 30 beehives, 6 animal farms with more than 100 sheep and 30 farms with milk cows. Each of the farms has over five milk cows.

Agron Krasniqi returned from Germany a year ago and opened his individual business.

He opened a cow’s farm, from which milk and meat are exported to Europe.

A former actor who played in a huge number of artistic movies in Germany and Kosovo, he decided to realize his longstanding dream to work in agriculture since, as he says, “it is a profession that enriches your life and should not be neglected.”

“I thought of starting with a mini-farm of 30 up to 60 hectares and then I wanted to gradually expand,” Krasniqi says.

What makes this farm special is that it has 27 bulls of “Agnus Argentino” race and two milk cows, and also the byre according to the European model.

“The animals` byre is the open style. Since 2012 the European farmers have started treating animals a bit differently. The front side is open, with the view of nature, since it has been scientifically proved that it impacts in fattening up to 5 kilos,” he explains.

Krasniqi is also satisfied with meat prices in Europe, just as he is satisfied with his export to Lithuania.

One kilo meat costs 70€. It is the most expensive meat and this is a very special race,” he brags.

Along with farming, he grows blueberries, cherries and apple.

On a surface of 20 hectares, 30 to 70 employees work, depending on the season.

“According to me, in Kosovo there is a discrimination against women in all fields. We decided to discriminate against men working only with women during summer. We have consideration for them and let them do the jobs that are easier, like as is vintaging and cleaning,” Krasniqi added.

Krasniqi did not announce the worth of the investment in the whole farm. He only announced the ciphers of the soil, which he bought in Lithuania at a cost of 1,200,000€, with the explanation that the quality of this soil provides a safe place to grow fruits.

Ali Gacaferi, the official for agriculture at the Municipality of Junik, says that this municipality has a huge potential for the development of agriculture and farming.

“As it is in a direct contact with nature, agriculture is like a kind of fabric without a roof. It is a very hope-giving profession,” Gacaferi says.

He added that for the development of agriculture and farming, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development contributed 65% of the overall investment in agriculture and 80% in creating the dam for irrigation.

 

Fjolla Hajrizaj

 

A German-Kosovar partnership opens the perspective for almost 500 women

Metije Maliqi, a 37-year-old woman from Goshica, in the Municipality of Vitia, wanted to become independent and advance professionally from a very young age. Although she had no higher education she invested in herself in two ways: professionally by perfecting her tailoring skills and personally as a woman engaging in different activities for women’s rights.

She started a tailoring course and thanks to her good performance, she has been working as a trainer for three years in a row. With only one sewing machine, she managed to run a clothing boutique from which she made a profit for many years. Married in a village of Kamenica eight years now, she was forced to close her boutique and dedicate herself to creating a family and raising children.

Her situation changed when she received the news that a textile factory was opening in her hometown, and would possibly provide for employment for many women.

“My tailoring experience provided me with a job in this factory. By doing this job I will go back to my ideal of an independent and hard-working woman,” she says.

This new textile factory “Vitex” in Vitia is a partnership between the German company “Wenger Industrie Consulting GBH” who invested 51% of shares, whereas 49% shares belong to a local entrepreneur. The factory will produce pants; women’s blazers, women’s skirts, jeans and men’s suits, and all production will be exported to Germany.

The factory has received support in several forms, especially during its training period, by the Swiss organization “Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation,” the German Agency for International Cooperation “Deutsche Geselleschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH” (GIZ) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.

Haqif Ibrahimi, one of the investors in this factory, explains the procedure of the work done in the factory.

“Now everything is ready to train employees accepted. The ratio between women and men is 90% to 10%. The training starts on the 13th of this month (July 2017) and will last up to three months,” Ibrahimi says.

According to him, the number of the employees is expected to increase starting from September, right after training finishes and “for a short period, the number of employees with reach 500.”

He expresses his gratitude to the mayor of Vitia, Sokol Haliti, who was a mediator in the implementation of this project.

“All this started at a fair for foreign investors by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, where the mayor of our municipality, Sokol Haliti, presented as well.  He told us of the good opportunities Vitia offers for investment and brought us for a visit at the municipality,” he says.

For the mayor of the municipality, this is one of the biggest investments in the field of employment Vitia. The municipality, according to Haliti, has paid attention the process of work in the factory and was ready to continue helping where needed in order for the factory to start running as soon as possible.

“We as a municipality will do everything to attract as many foreign investors as possible and introduce them to the favorable conditions the municipality of Vitia offers for several investments. This time, we are talking about the employment of 500 families and this is a great achievement of the municipality of Vitia,” he says.

Fitore Bajrami, an official from the German organization GIZ, asserts that they were notified by their German partner for this German-Kosovar investment, and they valued it as a real opportunity for employment.

“Opening new jobs for everyone, specifically for the youth, women and the returnees remains a priority to us,” she says.

Bajrami gives emphasis to the excellent cooperation with the municipality of Vitia, which has gone on for years.

“It is also one of the municipalities with a tradition in textile and the new generations have an opportunity to train in this field through the professional school where they can attend the department of textile.”

In the activity supported by GIZ, 150 Vitia`s citizens will get trained.

Leonora Rahimi, a lawyer by profession, always had a talent and a passion for tailoring. This merging of two professions, what may look strange at first sight, is giving her a double chance for employment in this factory.

“I worked in tailoring for four years, and I finished my law studies two years ago. I kept tailoring since I did not get a chance to work in my profession,” Rahimi says.

She started tailoring in this factory but hopes that soon, when the factory becomes fully functional, she will have the opportunity to become its lawyer, which she would be very happy for.

 

Trëndelinë Haliti

 

 

They prefer travelling by train, but where can one find a train

A 24-year-old student from Peja, Dardan Dervishaj, says that he traveled every weekend by train from his hometown to Prishtina and back. He says that traveling by train was comfortable, the price was not high, and the timetables were convenient.

“Traveling by train may take a bit more time than traveling by bus, but at the same time, it is safer and more comfortable. Also, the ticket price was reasonable, specifically for the students, since a one-way ticket cost 1.5 euro, different from bus tickets which cost 4 euro,” Dervishaj explains.

Just like Dervishaj, a large number of students who travel on this line preferred traveling by train, but…

Since the beginning of August 2017, passenger trains function only on the line from Prishtina-Skopje-Prishtina. The money for this line has been provided by the Ministry of Economic Development (MED). But the functioning of 10 trains on two lines (Fushë Kosovë-Hani i Elezit- Fushë Kosovë and Prishtinë-Pejë-Prishtinë) has stopped.

This happened because the Government of the Republic of Kosovo did not provide funds.

According to the head of the Media and Public Relations office, Afrim Kuleta from the “Trainkos” company, the money that had been set aside for passenger transport had been spent by June 2017. He explained that up until August, they operated by their (internal) budget.

Out of 1,031,000 € divided by the budget of the Republic of Kosovo, “Trainkos” company has covered its expense for the past year and a sum of around 925,000 €, was spent on running trains until mid-June.

Kuleta says that these two lines will not be available for the passengers until the money is provided by the Ministry of Infrastructure.

“Stopping these lines caused the risk of leaving 700 employees of the company without salaries starting from September,” said Afrim Kuleta from Trainkos.

Stopping railway transport is a concern, especially for the students from Peja region who, due to lack of this transportation, will have to buy a bus ticket home, which is almost three times more expensive than the train ticket.

Fidan Gashi, a 23-year-old student from Peja, often used to travel by train since, as he says, the price of the ticket was reasonable. According to him, the other reason was that the train used to stop almost at the center of Prishtina, whereas busses stop at the outskirts of the city.

“Now I will have to travel by bus, maybe even by car. The expenses will be higher, and for the citizens who do not have good economic conditions is more difficult to afford,” Gashi says.

Since September 2011, by the European Commission`s request, the railways of Kosovo have been divided into two railway sections “Infrakos” (goods transport) and “Trainkos” railway transport operations (passengers transport) in order to liberalize the market in railway transport,

According to the law for the Railways of Kosovo, “Trainkos” is obliged to provide revenues by the tickets sold to passengers. A part of the revenues should be provided by “Infrakos” services, but also by the government or any public authority as a financial compensation for offering transport services for the general interest, or any other revenue or contribution from the public or private sector.

Afrim Kuleta explains that the expenses have been partly covered by the budget of Kosovo from 2011 until now, and the remaining part has been covered by their own resources, which have been partly provided by “Infrakos.”

 “We have had higher revenues in the transport of goods. But, the construction of highways forced businesses which transport goods to do transportation through the port of Durrës, and not from the port of Selanik, as they did earlier. This caused the decrease in the revenues from the goods transport, thus making it impossible to provide finance for the passengers’ transport (Trainkos),” Kuleta explained.

“Trainkos” made some calculations based on the amount of the deficit, and discovered that 1,040,000€ should be covered by the Kosovo Budget. Otherwise, the two lines which now have been stopped for passenger transport will be impossible to function.

The Law for the Railways of Kosovo sets the lifetime of the contract of public service from 3 up to 15 years, depending on the time of the amortization of the moving vehicles provided by the railway company. But, Kuleta says, the law has not been respected, because every year they have signed new agreements with the Ministry of Infrastructure, through which it was not possible to exactly foresee how much revenue the company will have and will they be able to cover the eventual deficit.

“There is a commission between “Trainkos” and the Ministry of Infrastructure who evaluate the expense, the bills for the passengers’ transportation. They send the final reports to the ministry and the payment is done through those bills,” he says.

However, he asserted that some requests to cover the expenses until the end of fiscal year that were sent to the Ministry of Infrastructure by “Trainkos” have remained unanswered.

KosovaLive tried to get an answer related to this issue from the Ministry of Infrastructure for days in a row, but no one from the ministry agreed to talk.

The fate of 700 employees from “Trainkos” now depends on the eventual budget revision, which is also laid out in the Law of Kosovo`s Railways.

In the meantime, citizens and students of Kosovo will have to spend a lot more money than they planned for traveling.

Nafie Sylejmani

Women and men united for equality in chores also

Even though many people consider chores to be women`s duty and do no divide them equally, there are others who support equality in the division of chores and are ready to challenge gender roles.

Adelina Avdiu, mother of two, says that her husband helps her do chores.

“My husband helps me do the chores even though he works. It is easier for me when he is at home. Men also should do chores, not only women,” she says.

Her husband adds that he feels good when he helps her doing the chores since “women work a lot and are not valued as they should be.”

One of the principles of the article 3 of the Law for Family in Kosovo reads that the regulation of family relationships is based on equality between husband and wife, and reciprocal respect between them and other family members.

Bajram Halimi works in gender equality advancement. Chores, he says, should be done by all those who live in the house, no matter what their gender.

Men not doing chores is not something to be proud of. I help my wife when I have time and I do not consider it her job only,” Halimi emphasizes.

According to him, the current mindset does not allow a lot of men do chores.

“The mindset here is that the chores are the women`s job and anyone who helps is not considered to be a man. As long as this does not change, there will be no equality for women,” he emphasizes.

Adelina Hasani, an organizer in the Informal Group of Women and Girls of Prizren “FEMaktiv,” says that it is necessary to achieve gender equality in private life in order to achieve it in politic life.

“We think that the contribution of citizens is necessary in achieving gender equality in society. That is why we as an initiative try to cooperate with the citizens in this direction. And not only women but men also should fight and contribute in this direction, since gender equality is a war for justice,” she says.

In a performance of this informal group “Burrat Hekurosin” (Men Iron), men themselves were volunteers of the initiative and ironed several clothes in front of the public.

According to this NGO, chores are obligations that should be divided equally among men and women.

Hasani, who is an organizer at this NGO, think that all should work on gender equality and says that again in the future they will organize such performances that will challenge the traditional gender roles.

“There were men who came and participated in this performance. They also expressed their will to participate in other activities toward challenging gender roles. We believe that the public performance ‘Burrat Hekurosin,’ which was a symbolic performance, has impacted revising gender roles and in thinking about how these roles have been imposed on us,” she emphasizes.

KosovaLive has done a short survey with 20 men: half of them were between the ages of 24-35 whereas the other half was over 45.

In the first group of the surveyed men(24-35 years-old), seven out of ten declared they help doing the chores, whereas in the other group (older than 45 years), only four men declared they help doing the chores.

When asked if gender equality exists in the division of chores, they answered that it belongs only to women and men should do other jobs and provide for the family.

One of the surveyed says that the chores have always been only for women and this should not change.

“We inherited these traditions from our antecedents. The woman should do the chores and the man should work and provide for the family. The new generations are trying to change this, but it will be very difficult,” he emphasizes.

Adelina Hasani, from “FEMaktiv,” also agrees that seeking gender equality in doing chores has raised many complaints.

“In our public performance ‘Burrat Hekurosin’ we have had severe reactions or been criticized by men. These reactions in a way made us understand not all men are ready for this change,” she says.

In the article 4 of the Law of Family in Kosovo it is stated that that “all persons have the right to be equally treated and have equal obligations stated in this law. There will be no direct or indirect discrimination toward no one based on gender, age, civil status, language, physical or mental inability, sexual orientation, political belongingness, ethnical origin, nationality, religion or belief, race, societal origin, wealth, birth or other conditions.”

 

Arbresha Berisha

Young Kosovars still did not lose hope that education will make it easier for them to find a job

Ylberina Morina, a student of Political Sciences at the University of Prishtina, thinks youth in Kosovo need more opportunities in employment.

“Youth are finishing their studies, they are even doing their master`s degree and are still searching for a job. I believe that we should be able to have jobs we dream about, right after finishing our studies. Especially women, they should be given more space, specifically in decision making,” she says.

Ylberina will soon finish her studies and will join an “army” of unemployed people in Kosovo.

The number of job-seekers in Kosovo is higher than the number of available jobs. The statistics from the Kosovo Agency of Statistics (KAS) show that in the previous year alone, 101,773 job seekers were registered, whereas this year there were only 425 jobs that were publicly announced.

Youth are having the most trouble getting a job in Kosovo.

Also, according to KAS, among the 15-24 age-group, 52.2% were unemployed in 2016 alone.

Even though the number of available jobs is very low compared to the number of job-seekers, youth in Kosovo continue their studies, hoping that it will help them finding a job.

The number of graduates in Kosovo during 2014-2015 was 7,621, out of which, 6,628 graduated with a bachelor’s degree and 993 with a master’s degree.

According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, in 2015 alone, 5,052 bachelor and 226 master graduates were recorded as unemployed.

Since they are not able to find jobs in Kosovo, many Kosovar youngsters are focusing their job hunts on Western Europe, specifically in Germany, in order to find seasonal jobs.

Bedri Xhafa, general manager at the Employment Promotion Agency Kosovo (EPAK), says that since 2001, this agency has implemented projects, with over 15 million euro brought to Kosovar society. Over 30 thousand candidates have been trained and over 20 thousand others have received support in economic integration.

“In the recent years we are mainly co-working with employers from Germany. We send them to Germany to get an education, and also for training and employment. This year we are in process of sending 150 individuals to work for two or three months and gain enough income for their study expenses when they return,” he says.

But it is not only youth who are facing this existential problem. Even though they continue to hope that finishing their studies will help them in finding a job, Idriz Krasniqi, a 45-year-old, has no more hope for this.

He explains that he finished university some years ago, hoping that he would find a job.

“I graduated at the faculty of law many years ago, but was never able to find a job in this profession/field. I have no hope for employment. This situation will never change in Kosovo,” he says.

According to KAS, the rate of unemployment in the first three months of 2017 was 28.9%. The employment rate is higher for men – 44.6%, whereas the employment rate for women is 13.0%. Women are mainly employed in the education sector, trade and medical care (49.8%), whereas men mainly work in the sectors of construction, production and trade (43.8%).

Shejnaze Ramadani, a 40-year-old housewife, says that she really wants to find a job.

“Even though I have finished high school only, I applied for many jobs, but did not get accepted. I do not even work as a maid. Since life in Kosovo is very difficult, we have to provide income in some way,” she says.

 

Njomza Berisha

The Roma blind alley: no employment, with little education and early marriages…

There were no beds or carpets in those few rooms and the whole house where Zjenepe lived with her mother and her brother was very untidy.  Her father had passed away and her sister has gotten married, so due to their dire economic conditions, Zejnepe`s mother was forced to beg on the streets in Fushë Kosova.

Zejnepe, from Roma community, did not even know her last name or her age. As she explains, she only finished her first and second grade and was not able to learn either reading or writing.

“I went to a Serbian school, not to a Kosovar one, and I never befriended Albanians, only the Roma community here in Fushë Kosova. I was not able to learn reading and writing and due to dire economic conditions in my family, I was forced to drop out of school,” Zejnepe says.

Shpresa Berisha, 18 years old from the Roma community in Fushë Kosova, says that she also went to school only one year and was forced to drop out because of the constant bullying she experienced by Kosovar children.

On the other hand, boys in this community go to school and do not work. They are expected to learn. Muhamet, 13 years old from Fushë Kosova, attends the 8th grade in the school near his house and has Kosovar friends also.

“The economic conditions in my family are good since my dad works and my sisters are married to Diaspora and time by time send us money. Thus, I have been able to attend school. My sisters got married in an early age and finished only primary school. The Kosovar do not discriminate against us and they are very kind to us,” Muhamet says.

Jeton Jashari, the representative of Roma community in Fushë Kosova and assistant of the vice minister for Community and Return, says that this community is no longer discriminated by the Kosovar in Fushë Kosova and that boys are even pursuing their university studies.

“The girls of Roma community usually finish only the first grade. However, when they reach maturity they drop out of school because of sexual harassment at school and parents are afraid that something bad will happen to them. Since most of the Roma community is Muslim, girls get married at an early age and thus drop out of school,” Jashari says.

He also says that they have difficulties in finding a job. According to him, one must be part of a political party in order to gain employment.

Lorenta Kadriu, of the “Raise Your Hand for Help” NGO, asserts that the Roma community is not integrated in the Kosovar society as much as it should be. According to her, there are still ethnic prejudices and they mostly happen in schools and in sports and cultural events. Also, Kadriu emphasizes that the rate of illiteracy in this community is very high, especially for women.

“The difficult economic conditions in this community forces children to leave school and start a job in order to provide income for their family. This is what takes this community out of school in most of cases. A great number of the Roma community in Fushë Kosova do not have even basic living conditions. The rate of unemployment is high and this is evident and a majority of people have chosen to do recycling or do physical jobs in order to afford their living,” Kadriu says.

Based on the strategy for the integration of the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) communities of the Republic of Kosova, there was a report prepared by the office of the Prime-Minister of Kosova which shows that the women of RAE communities are in a discriminated and unfavorable situation characterized by leaving school. The economic conditions of RAE families, the poverty, ethnic tensions, harassments and the discrimination in schools are a phenomenon and a factor that impedes children from going to school.

In a research study on wages done by the International Labor Organization in 2006, the unfavorable and discriminative situation of these three communities was confirmed. In this research, there were 1,547 out of 12,126 companies included, mainly private companies that operate in Kosovo.

Only 0.1%, or only 12 individuals who worked there, were from RAE communities.

The study also showed that the average monthly income of RAE was lower compared to the income of the Serbs and the Albanians living in Kosovo. Most of the employees of these communities seem to be employed mainly in sectors with lower salaries and in positions which do not require professional training.

 

Besarta Breznica

The vote for new deputies, a vote of hope for change

Florina Imeri, 19 years old, says that she voted for new deputies in the assembly in order to have positive changes for all.

“Compared to the potential of other European countries, Kosovo does not fulfill the youth`s demands for education and employment,” she says.

Valentina Bunjaku, who is a member of the Democratic League of Kosovo (DLK) and was elected deputy for the first time, said to KosovaLive that she will focus on opening new jobs for Kosovar youth.

“It is obvious that the youth is the future of a country and its development. The advancement of the educational system and the opening of new jobs is a step in making them aware that their future is in Kosovo and not in other countries,” Bunjaku-Rexhepi says.

She considers that these goals can be achieved through basic changes and reform.

“These are not personal aims but common ones. We hope that all of us will contribute to this issue,” she says.

New deputies say that they will work for the youth by opening centers for them, creating jobs, and offering as good an education as possible.

Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) has organized a debate at European Information and Culture Centre (EUICC) with some of the new elected deputies to look into regional cooperation. Special attention was paid to youth empowerment.

This is a regional organization, part of the international youth forums who act as a part of the political parties from different countries. Apart from Prishtina, it has centers in Belgrade, Sarajevo, Podgorica and Zagreb. Its objective is the political education of youth on human rights.

The new elected deputy Betim Popaj, member of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AFK), thinks that the youth wants to leave the past behind.

“The youth do not see any future in this country. Every second a person thinks how can they migrate outside Kosovo. Thus, the elected should do our best to give space to the youth, because we have talent not only in politics but in culture and sport also,” he says.

Mimoza Grabani, a civil society activist, says that the government does not provide support for students.

“There are few possibilities for graduates in Kosovo,” Gabrani says.

Popaj thinks that we should not keep our focus only on students but should be more present in the field.

“We should research in deeper areas, and not look only at positive things but pay attention to the negative side as well. We have youngsters who travel 5-6 kilometers per day on foot; our youngsters are migrating by the age of 15-16. We are working very little on this direction, youth are fleeing more every day,” Popaj says.

The deputy Korab Sejdiu, a member of New Kosovo Alliance (NAK), says that his colleagues, mainly those who are new in the Assembly, should focus more on youth empowerment.

“I entered the deputies’ competition with three main goals; one of them is youth empowerment. The two other main points are opening a center for the students who want to study abroad, and the other is  paid internship in companies and lower business taxes (by the government),” Sejdiu says.

The deputy Saranda Bogujevci, a member of “Lëvizja Vetëvendosje,” says that she will engage herself in creating free university studies and to have students` practical work gain legal recognition, and in creating more space for them to work.

“The youth in Kosovo are dropping out of primary school. Many youngsters under the age of 18 do physical work and there is no inspectors in the field,” Pepaj says.

Many youngsters think their interests should be a priority for the new deputies as well as for their colleagues.

Teuta Hoxha, the director of YIHR, says that keeping in mind that the system of education has failed, our youth is seeing some hope for informal education as well as some NGO-provided education.

“In working with them it is evident that they are pretty interested in making changes. This is also because they have better opportunities, compared to older generations. Of course, free movement does not count here. The fact that our parents had more travel opportunities than we do because of visas is really concerning,” Hoxha said for KosovaLive.

However, she considers that the results of these elections showed a civic awareness for youngsters, but also by not giving their vote to those youngsters who have not been active in raising the problems of the youth in the Assembly of Kosovo.

“I think that the youth`s interests should be one of the main priorities of the newly elected deputies, keeping in mind that 65% of our population is from 18 to 30 years old,” she says.

Hoxha also considers that the youth should not address their interests only to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, but to the Ministry of Economy as well.

She says that only an all-inclusive cooperation will bring the needed/proper results.

The student Fitore Hyseni hopes that the young deputies will stay true to their promises and will not be only a number in the assembly.

“There should be more activities where youth meet the deputies and they should play a role in the decision-making process for different issues, and there should be more activities for youth,” she says.

Our youth are still hoping that with the last election and with the new young deputies, there will be changes.

 

Njomza Berisha

 

Human trafficking deserves a more serious approach

Anduenda Krasniqi, a 20-year-old student from Prishtina, says that she is not afraid to walk anywhere in town.

I can’t speak for other places, but I feel very safe walking in Prishtina any time I go out. Often times there are cars that stop but I never think of trafficking, they are usually youngsters who catcall girls, but not human traffickers,” says Krasniqi.

There are others who do not agree with her. Florina Qupevaj, who is a student from Prishtina as well, believes that if you are a woman it is not very safe to freely walk around, especially when it is late.

There are several cases when women have been followed home by unknown people driving behind them and have thought they are human traffickers,” she emphasizes.

According to the Directorate for Investigation of Trafficking with Human Beings, from January to June 2017, 16 victims of human trafficking have been identified, of whom 15 were citizens of Kosovo and one was form Albania. During this time, 97 individuals have been arrested for the criminal offence of trafficking human beings and other criminal offences of the same nature.

In the beginning of the year 2000, most of the identified victims came from the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Albania. Since 2008, the number of foreign victims dropped significantly.

The vast majority of the victims identified from 2011-2014 were women trafficked for sexual exploitation. The number of men trafficked for forced labor was one in 2011, four in 2012, two in 2013, and three in 2014.

A research paper conducted by the Group of Experts for Measures Against Trafficking Human Beings (GRETA), shows that 44% of the victims identified in 2013-2014 were children. They were mostly trafficked to beg for money and other forms of forced labor, which the study claims are growing trends.

In April 2008, by the government’s verdict, Kosovo began the National Coordinator Against Trafficking Human Beings.

From the middle of July, Kosovo Police undertook operations in different regions of Kosovo like Prishtina, Mitrovica etc, and arrested eight individuals suspected of being involved in criminal offences of “Facilitating and providing premises for prostitution” and “Engaging in prostitution.”

On June 19, 2017 in Peja, there was a police raid in some premises suspected of involving criminal activities. The police arrested three suspects for the criminal offences of “Facilitating or compelling prostitution and providing premises for prostitution.” With the verdict of the Municipality Inspection, these suspected premises were shut down. According to the law of Kosovo, if a business or building which is operating legally or illegally is suspected of being involved with trafficking human beings, the prosecutor asks the judge to immediately shut that business down.

Statistics show that last year alone the police initiated 146 investigation cases suspected of trafficking human beings and other offences related to trafficking. Two hundred and two suspects were arrested for trafficking human beings and other offences related to trafficking, and 36 victims were identified.

In their research, GRETA approaches sanctioning acts related to trafficking by noting that in 2014, 45 individuals were punished. The punishments varied from 200 to 1,500 Euros or jail sentences for five and a half years.

The Kosovo Police admits that they have improved their efficiency and effectiveness in identifying and prosecuting criminal offenders.

Kosovo Police claims that they have always been ready to cooperate with the neighboring countries and others, and there have been joint police operations at the regional level that have resulted in the arrest of suspicious individuals and the destruction of different criminal groups.

According to sociologist Vjollca Avdiu, women are more prone to become victims of human trafficking.

“Traffickers start their process by kidnapping women and giving them false promises. Then they perform physical and psychological violence on them. It is women who are used as sexual objects and prostitution develops by using them,” says Avdiu.

She sees poverty and the lack of education as some of the reasons that lead to human trafficking.

According to GRETA, contrabandists have contributed largely to the big emigrant wave leaving Kosovo to go to other European countries in 2015.

Njomza Berisha

Earning a living by selling scrap metal

You can find 64-year-old Rrahim Kurteshi from Fushë Kosova spending time near garbage containers every day. He earns a living by gathering scrap metal (recyclable materials). The temperature outside and the negative effects on his health don’t matter much to Kurteshi, because according to him, he has to get money for food somehow.

Kurteshi gathers his materials from dumpsters, mainly cans, plastic bags, and sometimes metal. He sends these materials to some private companies who classify and export scrap.

I have been gathering scrap inside of dumpsters since I was a little child. My family’s financial status was not good and I had to get money somehow. Today this is what I do for a living because I was not able to find any other job. I usually fill 2-3 bags a day and gain a maximum of 7 Euros. I buy food with this money every day and some basic elements without which we cannot live,” says Kurteshi.

He says that he works individually and doesn’t have any agreement with private companies that gather scrap.

Muhamet and Muharrem, two 13-year-old twin brothers, travel from Fushë Kosova to Prishtina every day to collect scrap. They say that neither of them goes to school because nobody in their family works and they have a bad financial status. Both of them try to help their family by collecting scrap.

When we were seven years old we went into dumpsters to collect trash. We go out like this every day, sometimes we walk from Fushë Kosova, and sometimes when we have money we take the bus. We go out early in the morning and gather scrap until the evening, we then sell them to some companies. We give the money we make to our father and he buys food with it,” says Muhamet.

According to Abaz Xhigolli, director of the Center for Social Work, there are 281 families from the Ashkali community that receive social welfare, 53 families from the Roma community and 37 families from the Egyptian community.

Ahmet Jashari, another scrap gatherer, says that he gathers recycled materials every day and has a multi cultivator, a vehicle that helps him transport his scrap from one place to another, so he can visit several Prishtina neighborhoods in a day and gather as much scrap as possible. Jashari tells how he gathers scrap on his multi cultivator every day. He sends it home and classifies it and at the end of the week he sends it to private companies.

I go out to gather scrap every day, I fill the bags and take them home, then I classify each of them separately — cans, plastic bags, metal and plastic bottles. After that I sell them to the nearest company at the end of the week and get 35-40 Euros. We make a living with that money,” says Jashari.

Individual scrap collectors sell scrap at minimal cost to companies. They sell one kilo of plastic for 0.13 Euros, metal for 0.14 Euros, nylon for 0.15 Euros and cans for 0.35 Euros. However, these companies did not agree to share how much money they make for a kilo of each of these recyclable materials.

Referring to the research from Preportr, called “Earning their daily bread,” the company that exports the most scrap is “Nderimi sh.p.k.” It has exported 116,196,917.00 kilos of scrap amounting to 21,821,528.00 Euros. Other companies like “Metal-Mix,” “Euro-Steel” and “Euro Abi” export large quantities of scrap as well.

In neighboring countries, the price for recyclable materials is more or less the same.

As an example, during 2010-2015, one kilo of plastic in Macedonia cost 0.29 Euros to export, in Serbia it cost 0.28 Euros, and in Montenegro 0.33 Euros. Plastic costs less to export from Albania, with a price of 0.13 Euros per kilo.

However, in other countries exporting recyclable materials costs a lot more. In Switzerland, the price to export plastic is 6.00 Euros per kilo and in Sweden it’s 3.30.

KosovaLive contacted scrap companies in Kosovo but they did not answer by phone, e-mail or any other form of communication.

According to Adriatik Stavileci, media official at Kosovo Customs, in 2016 alone, over 67,8 million kilos of scrap had been exported, amounting to 11 milion Euros, while during the first six months of 2017, over 61 million kilos of scrap, amounting to 11.5 million Euros, were exported.

During 2016 and 2017, Kosovo exported over 22 million Euros worth of scrap in total. The scrap is usually exported to Albania and Macedonia.

Besarta Breznica