On behalf of the undersigned civil society organizations, we take this opportunity to express great concern and protest over the decisions of the Government of Kosovo regarding the expropriation of land in the municipalities of Zubin Potok and Leposavić in the north of Kosovo.
Namely, as organizations that, among other things, deal with the rule of law and human rights, we are concerned about the confiscation of private property without the consent of the owners and their participation in the expropriation process, as provided for by the laws of Kosovo. In this sense, we note that private property is guaranteed and protected in all democratic societies.
In relation to the above-mentioned, we point out that the Law on Expropriation of Immovable Property (03/L-139) foresees a clear set of procedures in cases of expropriation, which includes notifying the owners of parcels that are the subject of expropriation, public consultations in the municipalities where the act of expropriation is performing, as well as fair compensation to owners. Unfortunately, none of these steps have been completed, although actions have been taken on the mentioned parcels, including the construction of a base in Gornji Jasenovik in Zubin Potok.
Additionally, the decisions of the Government of Kosovo on expropriation for the sake of “special public interest” do not contain a reference to the relevant legal basis. Article 4 of the mentioned law mandates a “legitimate public purpose” and requires, among other things, a direct correlation between the need for expropriation and the achievement of the public purpose, that the purpose cannot be achieved without aforesaid expropriation, and that the public interest exceeds the interest of those affected by the expropriation. Furthermore, the mentioned decisions do not specify whether the matter is urgent, nor explain why the regular process was not followed.
Finally, the decisions do not contain any indication of possible temporary use or whether these procedures represent a permanent transfer of ownership. Given that it is clear that the legal procedure for the expropriation procedure was not respected, the next and essential question is a question of alleged public interest. Bearing in mind all of the above, it should be emphasized that the Government of Kosovo has a constitutional and legal duty to balance the public interest with individual property rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.
In that regard, the question arises as to what is the interest in building a border police base on a location that is not close to the border zone, as well as whether there is a comparable example of a border police base being planned on an area of as much as 82 hectares, as is the case with the location in Dren in the municipality of Leposavić.
In conclusion, given that the public has been informed about the public discussions scheduled for February 15 and 21 in the municipalities of Leposavić and Zubin Potok, we express our fear that it is only about filling out part of the legal forms, and not about raising essential issues such as the interest of the local community, which has a justified fear of the presence of police officers heavily armed in their area and on their property. In this regard, we demand from the Government of Kosovo to stop all projects related to the property that is the subject of expropriation, as well as organize a comprehensive and transparent dialogue with the owners of the parcels in question, community representatives as well as civil society.
Given that the Government of Kosovo refers to the public interest, the interest of the entire community in northern Kosovo is the most important in this case, and the community has the right to its opinion and position and full information about all the plans of the government in northern Kosovo, to avoid maintaining an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. If the Government of Kosovo cares about the trust of citizens in northern Kosovo, all actions must be stopped, until the end of comprehensive consultations with the community, its representatives, and civil society.
Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture – ACDC
New Social Initiative (NSI)
Mitrovica Humane Center
Communication for Social Development (CSD)
Association of business women Avenia
Institute for Territorial Economic Development (InTER)
Center for social initiatives (CSI)
Youth Partes Activity (OPA)
Forum for Development and Multi-Ethnic Cooperation (FDMC)