Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI), in cooperation with the Committee on Health, Labor and Social Welfare, organized the roundtable “Status of the Pension Fund of Kosovo in the context of the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue”, a discussion with deputies of the Kosovo Parliament, representatives of the academy , civil society and the media.
At the opening of the roundtable, Jeta Krasniqi from KDI stressed that KDI has worked in the last two years with the Kosovo Assembly to strengthen its oversight role over the executive within the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue where it worked closely with the parliamentary committees to raise and address important issues in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. In this context, KDI with the Committee initiated the conduct of a research on the Kosovo Pension Fund in the context of the Kosovo-Serbia talks.
Meanwhile, Dr. Artan Mustafa, the research author, stressed that the research deals with the organization of pension policies in the former Yugoslavia, the obligations assumed by the countries that have emerged from the Yugoslav Federation, and offers possible modalities for resolving this issue from the Republic of Kosovo as part of a succession agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. Mustafa also underlined that the pension reform should aim at creating a united system throughout the Republic of Kosovo based on the system of solidarity known as Pay-as-you-go, which will encourage the interest of the Serb community to become part of the system.
Chairwoman of the Committee on Health and Social Welfare, Besa Baftiu, emphasized that the research provides information on the Kosovo pension fund. Baftiu added that the government should stop the practice of overcoming the Assembly, as it has consistently provided, thus giving MPs the opportunity to contribute to these issues.
Bahri Xhaferi, of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, emphasized that it is important to underline that the pension system in the former Yugoslavia has been of the kind of solidarity between generations, which does not result in the accumulation of a pension fund. However, the state of Serbia has obligations towards Kosovo retirees that derive from the abolition of workers’ rights in Kosovo during the 90s.
Riza Shala from the Pensioners ‘Union said the pensioners’ status was much more advanced before 1989. Shala also underlined that there was no pension fund allegedly taken by Serbia. However, Shala added that Serbia assumed responsibility to fulfill its obligations to Kosovo retirees at the time of suspension of BVI’s rights at the beginning of the 1990s, calculating this obligation of Serbia towards pensioners Kosovo up to 2 billion euros.
While Shaban Kajtazi, chair of the Pensioners’ League, has expressed dissatisfaction with addressing this problem in the dialogue with Serbia. Kajtazi emphasized that despite the fact that the technical dialogue was meant to aim at improving the lives of citizens, the pension issue, which is an urgent need of a large number of Kosovars, has not been addressed at all. Kajtazi demanded the conditioning of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue with this solution of this issue. Also, Kajtazi emphasized the urgent need to reform the pension scheme.
University professor Riza Smaka, has estimated that the government has not done anything it could and neither what should of have done about pension policies in general. Regarding the problem of the Kosovo Pension Fund from the 1990s, Smaka has said that there is a final decision by the European Court of Human Rights, which obliges Serbia to pay pensions to pensioners in Kosovo which amount to nearly 2 billion euros. Further, Smaka stressed that Kosovo should not seek concession on this issue but go with a firm request in talks with Serbia to fulfil this obligation.
In this discussion it was also stressed that the issue of pensions has never been addressed seriously in the Brussels Dialogue and was asked to address this problem urgently and with priority in the dialogue.
This discussion is organized under the project “Strengthening the Assembly’s Oversight to the Government and Increasing Citizen Participation in the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue” funded by the Swiss Embassy in Kosovo.