Dear Mr. Lumezi, Chief Prosecutor of the Republic of Kosovo
A few days ago, Kosovo’s budget lost 53 million euros. We use the word lost because this amount of money was not spent on any additional kilometers of road, but was paid out as a penalty fee for contract mismanagement by the government. This amount of money went from our collective wallet and into the bank account of a private consortium. The other suspicious question here is the following: how did an initial penalty of 14 million in 2017 grow to 53 million within a few months?
We, the undersigned civil society organizations, think that this case should raise alarm bells for Kosovo’s Prosecution and that the possibility of an enormous abuse with public funds should be investigated.
As the previous cases brought forth against Kosovo in international arbitration have shown, when such great amounts are at stake, there is a basis to have serious doubts that the contract mismanagement might be intentional and done in collusion with the contracting party. The lack of a reaction from the prosecution in previous cases has created a climate conducive to such abuse with public funds.
Every breach of law merits the attention of the prosecution, but breaches of this size should alarm us at the national level. If 53 million euros can be taken away so easily from a country plagued by low-incomes, how can its citizens really start believing that they can aspire to live under the rule of law? We should be aware that this is the largest amount of public resources publicly known to have been lost on one single occasion. Therefore, a decision to not to investigate would be a massive blunder by the Prosecution.
Dear Chief Prosecutor, the evaporation of 53 million euros has very specific addresses. There are institutions, decisions and documents (specific contracts) which can easily point out who is legally responsible for robbing us of our public resources. It is your legal and moral obligation to investigate this matter till the end. In this attempt, you will have both the support and the scrutiny of civil society organizations.
Kosovo’s citizens have demonstrated their immunity to the problem of corruption. All research data suggests that low-level corruption in Kosovo (in the interactions between citizens and the state) is at the lowest levels in the region. But as public opinion polls show, our current governing class has not shown itself immune to corruption. Through its brutal interference it has attempted to undermine the independence of the judiciary and to guarantee impunity for itself and the people that are close to it. These politicians are to blame for the fact that Kosovo’s citizens remain the most isolated in Europe.
Dear Chief Prosecutor, in the days ahead the public will get to see whether you will pass this test. It will do so by observing whether you will fulfil your constitutional duties and the pledges we keep hearing from you and your subordinates in all of the civil society forums you take part. There is also the possibility that you will decide to remain silent and inactive in the face of a flagrant breach. If you decide to remain silent, we remind you that Kosovar society will hold you equally responsible and you will no longer have moral and legal basis to remain in your position.
The undersigned organizations
Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI)
Institute for Development Policy (INDEP)
Kosovo Center for Security Studies (KCSS)