STATEMENT BY THE AMBASSADORS OF FRANCE, GERMANY, ITALY, THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE UNITED STATES, 30 AUGUST 2019
The upcoming election is a crucial opportunity for the citizens of Kosovo to decide the direction of the country. Kosovo citizens deserve the promise of a peaceful, prosperous future, and the only way to secure this future is through the will of the Kosovo people expressed in these elections.
We represent nations deeply committed to a democratic and independent Kosovo. Any suggestion that our governments support a particular party or candidate in the election is incorrect. As in past elections, we will join with other local and international bodies to help ensure a free and fair environment.
Kosovo has a proven track record of professionally-managed, credible – although not perfect – elections. Our Embassies expect this election to improve on past performances and avoid the manipulation and fraud that marred the 2010 polls (as cited in the 2010 EU Election Expert Mission’s Report), and the 2017 intimidation of Kosovo Serb candidates and voters not aligned with Srpska List, (as cited in the 2017 EU Election Observation Mission report). We reject pressure on voters, including through threats to jobs, and vote-buying, including through the promise of public positions. We reject any attacks against the media, either physical attacks, or calls for violence, or attempts to label media as ‘fake news.’ We stand with the independent media and civil society in their roles to monitor and provide public oversight to the elections process.
Instead, we expect all political parties and candidates to promote an environment of fair electoral competition throughout Kosovo. We encourage citizens to call out abuses of public funds or resources used in campaigning as well as any efforts at intimidation. We expect the Kosovo authorities to take swift and appropriate action against any violations, throughout the country. It is important to Kosovo’s democratic future that all involved respect the country’s election laws, and the election proceeds as scheduled on October 6.
To the party leaders and candidates, we say:
We hope this election campaign will see you engage in an energetic, honest public debate on the opportunities and problems facing Kosovo.
As our governments recently noted, elections and the formation of a new government offer a chance to urgently restart talks with Serbia with the objective of reaching a comprehensive, politically sustainable, and legally binding agreement that contributes to regional stability. This is clearly in in Kosovo’s interest. To reach a deal, Kosovo’s next government will need flexibility to negotiate and the ability to articulate a positive vision of the country’s future relationship with Serbia, and the economic and security benefits it can bring to Kosovo.
We hope this campaign season will see politicians engage citizens of all communities in an energetic, honest public debate about the opportunities and challenges facing the country. Voters want their leaders to ensure Kosovo’s young people can build their futures here. Voters deserve detailed answers from parties on how programs will strengthen the education system to better equip graduates for employment, deliver jobs, enhance private sector development and investment, support entrepreneurship, maintain fiscal responsibility, and improve energy security and the environment.
Most importantly, Kosovo needs the rule of law. We believe candidates must be free of criminal backgrounds or links to criminal activity, and demonstrate how they will fight corruption and organized crime, resist impunity and cronyism at the highest levels, and deliver clean governance through merit-based appointments and policies and programs that reward integrity. Parties’ first opportunity to demonstrate these commitments is in selecting candidate lists that prioritize competence over connections.
We urge you to rise above populist and nationalist rhetoric, which will not help Kosovo. Coming out of these elections, Kosovo needs leaders with detailed ideas on how to achieve citizens’ demands, and a government that can credibly deliver. Kosovo citizens deserve to hear detailed platforms from parties, so that they can make informed voting decisions.
Finally, we address ourselves to the most important actors in the election: the people.
Our governments want Kosovo, now in its second decade of independence, to succeed. We will continue to support its development. But the responsibility for Kosovo’s future, for Kosovo’s leaders, and for Kosovo itself lies only with you, the people of Kosovo.
This is your country. Thanks to many who have struggled and sacrificed, it is a democracy. Like democracy in other countries – including our own – Kosovo’s system has imperfections. Your voices and your votes matter. Only the people can bring about change.
So, between now and Election Day, speak out – tell the parties and the candidates what you expect from the next government. Insist on real plans and proposals, not just empty rhetoric. Judge whether the people you voted for will fulfill their promises. Reject criminals. Demand a real democratic choice. And on Election Day, turn out and vote.