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22 Jul 13

The Dichotomy of Vetevendosje

Kreshnik Hoxha

In a quest to produce more political drama than the nation can digest, Kosovo had two eventful Thursdays over the last few weeks, which will be memorable and will shape the country's political scene in the future.

Both Thursdays refer to the political developments in the Parliament of Kosovo, the first one concerning the ratification of the Kosovo-Serbia agreement and the second relating to the notorious amnesty bill. Apart from the political gravity of the two days, there was something else remarkable about them as they surfaced a rather interesting and potentially dangerous phenomenon in Kosovo's most outspoken opposition party, Albin Kurti’s Vetevendosje. The phenomenon relates to the dichotomy between logic and maturity on one hand and shameful vandalism and extreme unjustifiable intolerance on the other.

Vetevendosje was the only political voice in Kosovo's parliament that was against the ratification of the Kosovo-Serbia agreement on the day when Parliament was set to make the decision.

What has always differentiated Vetevendosje from other political stakeholders in Kosovo is their style of presenting irrefutable arguments and their activism in the streets, namely the persistence that Kosovo should have trade reciprocity with Serbia, major protests against UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s six-point plan on Kosovo's future as well as their support to the rape victims during the war. It would be fair to say that the founding of Vetevendosje in 2005 and their subsequent transformation into a political force in 2010 has been pivotal to the democratic processes in Kosovo. Vetevendosje took 12.69 per cent of the votes from Kosovo's last general elections.

However, even if it had 90 percent of the votes, neither Vetevendosje nor anyone else can grant themselves the right to be some sort of a supreme authority which filters the entry of MPs to the parliament - all this in an attempt to block the ratification of the Kosovo-Serbia agreement.

Ever since their entry into parliament, Vetevendosje has been rather vocal about the actions of the current government, which hamper democracy in the country. But, the breach of the freedom of movement of the MPs done by Vetevendosje activists by blocking entry to Parliament is nothing short of an attack on democracy. Such actions tar them with the same brush as the government, which they criticise so vigorously.

This behaviour also shows that Vetevendosje does not tolerate those who go against their beliefs and is willing to even use force to show its discontent. The glaring example of this intolerance is seen in the case of the now former Vetevendosje MP Alma Lama, whose criticism about Vetvendosje's recent flirt with radical Islam led to an uproar which ended with her leaving the party.

The intolerant behaviour of Vetevendosje can also be seen in the actions of Albin Kurti in the Parliament of Kosovo during the ratification of the Kosovo-Serbia agreement. What courage must one have to grab the microphone of the Assembly Speaker, Jakup Krasniqi, in order to block the ratification?

Since when is it deemed acceptable that in the name of protecting the parliament one can take away the right of the MPs to vote? Speaking on BIRN’s current affairs show, “Life in Kosovo,” Kurti emphasised that his actions were not planned but he did them due to the disappointment with Kosovo's political situation.

As if such preposterous remark would excuse him from his actions. What Kurti attempted to do is comparable to the events in 2010 elections when PDK militants were interfering and blocking Vetevendosje voters from voting. Hypocrisy aside, this sort of behaviour demonstrated by Vetevendosje tarnishes the concept of this political movement and delegitimizes their efforts in offering an alternative policy making in Kosovo.

On the other hand, the Thursday when the parliament was discussing the amnesty bill witnessed a completely different Vetevendosje, who resorted to the more democratic, calm and mature methods of expressing their disagreements with the amnesty bill. No stones were thrown around, no one grabbed anyone's microphone and no one's entry to the parliament was blocked. It seemed that Vetevendosje had learned its lessons from the shameful events of the previous week.

The best thing that Vetevnedosje did in relation to the amnesty law was the fact that it allowed civic activism to take place as a resistance to the passing of this bill. For a long time, Vetevendosje has given the impression that they are the synonym for protest in Kosovo. Individuals from this party have transformed the protest into a property of Vetevendosje.

However, Vetevedosje should urgently realise that they are not the sole guardian of Kosovo against threats or dangers be it political or social, because there are others in this country who fully disagree with the government but also do not affiliate with Vetevnedosje. It is precisely this non-affiliation with the political discourse of Vetevendosje that discourages people to participate in protests and it shows why the turn out in protests is low. Simply, people do not want to get political labelling and therefore choose to stay away from protests organised by Vetevendosje.

It remains to see and certainly hope that Vetevendosje has indeed reflected on its recent shameful actions. The best thing Vetevendosje can do for itself, democracy in Kosovo and  the challenging of the current government enmeshed in corruptive affairs is to allow the triumph of maturity and reasoning over the intolerance and the shambolic behaviour demonstrated by them few weeks back. Vetevendosje is not a clown political party as some American diplomat arrogantly stated.

However, what will corrode this movement is their undemocratic behaviour in the name of democracy preservation.

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