|Leader of the Parliamentary Group||Visar Ymeri|
|Preceded by||KAN (Kosova Action Network)|
|Politics of Kosovo
Vetëvendosje (trans. Self-determination) is a radical nationalistic political movement in Kosovo[a], which opposes foreign involvement in internal affairs of the country and campaigns for the sovereignty exercised by the people instead, as part of the right of self-determination.
The big contrast with the rest of political spectrum within Kosovo gleams in regard of two main issues that characterize the country after the war: the long process of negotiations with Serbia concerning the internal organization and socio-political aspects of Kosovo, without imposing any prior conditions to the Serbian side, which they consider "unfair and harmful", and the process of privatization of public companies which they describe as "a corruption model, contributing to increasing unemployment, ruining the economy, and halting economic development of the country".
- 1 History of the movement
- 2 Controversies
- 3 Vetëvendosje! members in the Assembly of Kosovo
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes and references
- 6 External links
History of the movement
"Vetëvendosje!" was the main slogan during the protests that took place in 1968 throughout Kosovo, with the goal of advancing national rights of Albanians and enforcing the political status as an entity within Yugoslavia.
Vetëvendosje! was founded in 2004 and has been led, since its start, by Albin Kurti, as a consecutive of KAN (Kosova Action Network) a group promoting active citizenry and direct political participation of the masses.
One of the movement's political points is to hold a referendum on union with Albania. The movement counts on close to 20,000 activists at their disposal at any time.
On 10 February 2007 a demonstration organised by Vetëvendosje and attended by more than 60,000 people took place in the streets of Pristina. Riot police were deployed after the rioters allegedly planned to storm the government office. Following this deployment, after a few minutes Romanian UNMIK riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd who until then protested peacefully. The Romanian UNMIK police officers then fired directly at the face of one of the protesters, resulting in the immediate death of this unarmed civilian. Following the first casualty the situation went fully out of control and the police began firing rubber bullets at the protesters while always aiming at their heads, resulting in another casualty of a protester who was shot point-blank while he was hiding from the tear gas inside Hotel Iliria, countless other protesters were injured while one protester who was shot next to the heart survived after a long state of coma and still today lives with the projectile inside his chest. The end of the protest resulted in two deaths, seven serious injuries and 73 minor injuries. A prosecutor determined that the police, Romanians who are part of an international force deployed here, had acted criminally, but declined to file charges because it was unclear who had fired the fatal shots. Instead, Kurti got arrested for "disdain and contempt for all that represents the legitimate authority of Kosovo".
The movement campaigned through graffiti opposing the negotiations for the final status of Kosovo. The graffiti in Albanian is: Jo Negociata -- Vetëvendosje! (Albanian for "No negotiations - Self-determination!"). Among the targets for activities of Vetëvendosje activists are vehicles of UNMIK with UN signs, to which the activists add an F character at the beginning and a D character at the end resulting in FUND signs, which in Albanian means The End. The movement also opposes the decentralisation process which creates a de facto division of Kosovo along ethnic lines, separating Kosovo into ethnic Albanian and Serbian parts and as such resulting in ethnic discrimination of both Albanian and Serbian communities by creating ghettos based on ethnicity. The movement has also organised protests in front of the headquarters of the United Nations in both New York and in Kosovo during the visits of the heads of state of Serbia or negotiations' mediators.
Participation in elections
The decision to participate in the coming elections as a political entity led to another arrest of Kurti by EULEX. In December 2010 the movement participated for the first time in national elections and obtained 12.66% of the votes in an electoral process where there was industrialized ballot stuffing and election manipulation done by the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo of Hashim Thaçi, Democratic League of Kosovo of Isa Mustafa, Alliance for the Future of Kosovo of Ramush Haradinaj and Alliance for New Kosovo of Behgjet Pacolli. According to international election monitoring reports these elections were the worst in Kosovo history. For Vetëvendosje!, the result of 12.66% constituted the percentage of votes it was able to protect, not the percentage which the movement actually won. It claims that in a fair electoral process the movement would be the largest political subject in the parliament. Vetëvendosje! deposited more than 1,500 complaints as a result of which there were repeated elections in most Kosovar municipalities at least once (in the worst cases going up to a total of three rounds of voting in problematic towns like Skënderaj (Srbica) and Mitrovica). Although this result would place Vetëvendosje as the third political subject of Kosovo, one day after the elections Vetëvendosje presented findings of its observers who had witnessed voter manipulation and fraud in some constituencies.
VV! won 14 seats, 2 of them going for their ally movement Movement for Unification, (Albanian: Lëvizja per Bashkim, LB), with all 14 being part of VV! parliamentary group. LB assembly members left the VV! parliamentary group on 20 September 2011, due to divergences on funds distribution (The fund for supporting political subjects 2011), and acting as independent since then.
During the first seance of the new parliament all members took their oath while holding the red and black Albanian flag in front of them, and have continuously introduced it inside the Assembly premises, while ignoring and contesting the symbols of Republic of Kosovo including the State Anthem.
Merger with the New Spirit Party
Merger with Socialist Party of Kosovo
The Socialist Party of Kosovo, led by Ilaz Kadolli, joined Vetëvendosje! on April 26, 2013. Kurti and Kadolli agreed that the merger will be in the interest of building a strong political and economical state. The Socialist Party had no representatives in the Kosovo Parliament, but had several in local governments.
Merger with People's Movement of Kosovo
People's Movement of Kosovo (Lëvizja Popullore e Kosovës), with its structures in Kosovo and abroad joined Vetëvendosje! on July 23, 2013, as stated from both leaders Kurti and Zekaj during the press conference in Vetevendosje! headquarters in Prishtina: "...with the only aim to change social flow on the benefit of Albanian people". Zekaj stated that PMK has a wide membership within Kosovo and abroad, though he didn't provide numbers.
PMK started in 1982 as a Marxist nationalist grouping of Albanian diaspora organizations in Western Europe and is considered the origin of KLA. Most of its leadership moved on with the newly created party Democratic Party of Kosovo of Hashim Thaçi after the war.
VV! has presented the most firm and continuously critical opposition to the Thaçi government while proclaiming their governance executive program which focuses on three main columns: developmental state, state of rights, and social state.
On December 10, 2012, US Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson accused VV! of having sent a threatening letter to former State Secretary Madeleine Albright, one of the most respected and loved political figures between Albanians. VV! officially replied four days later, stating that "they were amazed with the accusations, and Kurti never sent any letter to Mrs. Albright, but if someone had proof should make it available to the public". They explained that they had urged citizens of Kosovo to mail to companies which were racing for privatizing PTK (the postal and telecommunications authority of Kosovo owning "Vala" mobile operator as well) while explaining to them the harm that the privatization is causing the country's economy and the wrong practices applied during the process. Apparently, one of the runners was a consortium of Portugal Telecom with Albright Capital Management, which dropped off the race on January 2013.
"We did not threaten anyone and we definitely did not, as you claim, try to deter Ms. Albright from visiting Kosovo. Indeed, after this letter of September 1, Ms. Albright visited Kosovo in November, without the slightest opposition from VETËVENDOSJE! During her visit, she even met our deputies. "
On June 27, 2013, VV! organized a protest against the latest agreement between Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaçi and Serbian homologue Ivica Dačić during the latest round of political negotiations between Prishtina and Beograd in Brussels hosted by Catherine Ashton. Vetëvendosje! tried to block all entrances to the parliament building, in order to hinder the assemblymen from entering, thus preventing the agreement for being ratified. The protest didn't succeed, and the agreement was voted from the majority of the assembly representatives. During the protest, US Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson resulted with an injury on her right arm while entering from a secondary entrance together with some assembly members.
Although the video evidence showed no physical contact between protesters and US Ambassador, confirmed as well by LDK assemblyman Haki Demolli who entered the building together with the American Ambassador, the incident aggravated the already difficult relationship between US State Department and VV!. The reaction was prompt, following the US Embassy official statement, VV! was criticized by Kosovo government instances, political factors, as well as public opinion. Even long time supporter of VV!, former OSCE ambassador Willim Walker, described the action as "big mistake". According to Zëri newspaper, the US Department of State called Kosovo Ambassador in Washington D.C. Akan Ismajli requiring official explanations, though no comments came from official sources within Kosovo.
"As we have stressed with all leaders and particularly to Vetevendosje, while the United States respects citizens’ rights to free speech and expression, we deplore the use of violent tactics in obstructing the democratic process. Freedom of speech does not mean the right to restrict the freedom of movement of others. Vetevendosje’s continued reliance on violent tactics undermines Kosovo’s reputation as an emerging democracy."
The reaction from VV! was vague, with soon-to-be-gone Alma Lama being the first one to personally apologize to the US Ambassador. On 1 July, Glauk Konjufca apologized to all foreign representatives visiting the Kosovo parliament on that day: "Specifically, there is the case of US Ambassador, but even other foreign representatives to whom we apologize in case they have experienced any unpleasant situation. But, analyzing the harm that the agreement causes, it sounded reasonable to us to act the way we did though I don't deny having possibly made some mistakes." The overall positioning of VV! can be described with Shpend Ahmeti's statement: "the protest was not violent, we didn't want anyone to get hurt, we are sorry if someone actually did, but the negative effects of the agreement overrun any side effects of the protest", adding "the government is trying to show us as anti-american, which we are not".
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker during his visit to Prishtina few days later would be harsh and very direct with VV!, calling them "clowns who want to be violent". VV! would call Reekers' accusations as "unfair and non-democratic" and issue a complaint letter to the US Department of State.
Vetëvendosje! members in the Assembly of Kosovo
The chairman of the movement's parliamentary group is Visar Ymeri. The President of the Vetëvendosje! movement Albin Kurti is also Chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee in the Republic of Kosovo, while Vetëvendosje! MP Glauk Konjufca is Deputy-Speaker of Parliament and is the editor of the movement's weekly journal. Alma Lama resigned from Vetëvendosje! and its parliamentary group on July 5, 2013 due to divergences with the leadership and what was described as "a flirt with radical Islam groups for the purpose of increasing its electorate".
Other members of the Parliamentary Group
|Name||Political Party||Date of resignation from the P.G.|
|Alma Lama||VV! (DLK as of Oct 2013)||07-05-13|
- Albanian Nationalism
- Albin Kurti
- Belgrade–Pristina negotiations
- Economic nationalism
- Florin Krasniqi
- Kosovo Liberation Army
- People's Movement of Kosovo
- Political Manifesto 16 pages wikisource:Page:Vetëvendosje! political programm in english.pdf/1
- Political Manifesto (Albanian) 49 pages 
- Politics of Kosovo
- Radio Show PËRBALLJA
- Shpend Ahmeti
- United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo
- UNMIK Criticism
- Ukshin Hoti
Notes and references
|a.||^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been recognised by 106 out of 193 United Nations member states.|
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