3rd Communities Issues Group (CIG) meeting
On 18 September, 2014, the Communities Issues Group convened its third meeting in Kosovo government building in Prishtina. Participants included representatives of the Office of Community Affairs/Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Ministry for Community and Return, EUSR/EUO, CoE, OSCE, ADA, UNMIK, ECMI Kosovo, SPARK, U.S. Embassy, British Embassy, German Embassy, Norwegian Embassy, Swiss Embassy.
Srdjan Popovic, Director of the Office of Community Affairs (OCA/OPM), made opening remarks by emphasizing the paramount importance of the work of the Communities Issues Group. Popovic introduced the main topics of the meeting: a) Recognition of diplomas of the University in North Mitrovica (UNM), with a presentation by ECMI Kosovo, and b) Humanitarian Bus Transportation needs assessment update, with an updated report by the Ministry for Community and Return.
Adrian Zeqiri, ECMI Executive Director, provided all participants with an in-depth view of work already conducted by ECMI, acting as the focal point/agent for OCA/OPM and the CIG. This included the composition of the appointed government working group, established from legal offices of those government agencies intimately involved with determining a solution to the problem; the results of the three day symposium setting out parameters to the problem; and the proposed further courses of action to develop recommendations in accord with the Constitution, Kosovo legislation and international human rights law. This includes a two pronged approach incorporating both interim and permanent solutions and a tentative time-frame for all aspects of the project.
OCAs representatives confirmed that the timeframe for the establishment of the proposed Independent Commission is dependent on the basic recommendations being staffed through the appropriate government agencies for comment by OCA/OPM, prior to submission to OPM for decision approval. The responsibility for subsequent publicizing of the process throughout those communities most interested in a solution to the problem remains with OCA/OPM.
Mr. Zeqiri said that the ultimate process will be legitimized through the formal adoption of a bylw, based on both Kosovo Constitution and the Law on Higher Education. Zeqiri added that it is envisoned that the Independent Commission will comprise seven (7) members. Three (3) from government agencies involved with the process, three (3) from the University in North Mitrovica, and one (1) further non-voting/mediation member from an international organization (preferably EU).
Discussion about the Humanitarian Bus Transport (HBT) needs assessment were opened by Srecko Bogajcevic, Chief of Cabinet at the Ministry for Community and Return (MCR), who provided an update on the on-going, MCR-directed Needs Assessment required to provide a definitive answer to questions regarding usage data of all routes. Once all data has been received, MCR, in conjunction with OCA/OPM will establish a process enabling a prioritization of the most required future routes, ensuring a transparent methodology is publicly available to all recipients of the system.
Jelena Vojinovic , Community Affairs Officer at the EUSR, reported that the Ministry of Infrastructure (MoI), Director of Transportation had committed to ensuring that thirteen (13) of the current HBT lines would remain in operation, though possibly with modifications to routes and volume, for a further year. The listing of continuing routes (Attachment (4)) must be viewed as tentative until Ministry validation. However, it is much appreciated that the cooperative and ongoing pressure applied by CIG participants has ensured that MoI will hopefully continue to provide such a needed service.
Christine Hirst, Chief, OSCE Communities Section, advised that the OSCE survey (same subject) would be completed by mid- October, while reporting that MoI has yet to publish the new Administrative Instruction regarding HBT.
Nathaniel Ganda, UNMIK, stated that there was uncertainty regarding the specific number of HBT routes MoI was prepared to maintain for a further year, and that routes that would be continued would be subject to MoI review.
It should be noted that OCA/OPM informal canvasing of diplomatic missions possible financial support for any future funding to ensure continuation of these services past the time currently stated by MoI, has proved negative.