Vetëvendosje

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Self-determination
Vetëvendosje
Leader Visar Ymeri
Spokesperson Shkodran Hoti
Leader of the Parliamentary Group Glauk Konjufca
Founder Albin Kurti
Founded 12 June 2005
Preceded by KAN (Kosova Action Network)
Headquarters Rr. Ekrem Rexha, Pristina, Kosovo[a]
Newspaper Përballja
Ideology Albanian nationalism[1][2][3][4][5]
Protectionism[6]
Direct democracy[7][8][9][3] [10][11]
Kosovo–Albania unionism[12][13][14]
Political position Centre-left[15][16][17]
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
Colours White, Red
Assembly
32 / 120
[18]
Mayors
3 / 38
Party flag
Flag of Albania.svg
Website
www.vetevendosje.org
"No negotiations, self-determination" graffiti in Glogovac
FUND - Albanian for 'End'

Vetëvendosje (Albanian: [ˌvɛtəvɛnˈdosjɛ], self-determination) is an Albanian[10][19] nationalist[3][20][21][22][23] political party[24] in Kosovo[a] that opposes foreign involvement in the country's internal affairs, and campaigns for the sovereignty exercised by the people instead, as part of the right of self-determination.[25][26]

The movement widely bases its philosophy on the works of Ukshin Hoti.[27][28][29][30]

The big contrast with the mainstream political spectrum within Kosovo concerns two issues that characterize Kosovo 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",[31][32][33][34][35] 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".[36][37][38]

It presents the most firm and continuously critical opposition to the government while focusing their programs along three main axes: developmental state, meritocracy, and welfare state.[39][40]

The movement runs the municipal government of the Kosovo capital Prishtina. They have the largest parliamentary group in the Assembly of Kosovo, after coming out as the most voted single party in the last elections.

History of the movement[edit]

"Vetëvendosje!" was the main slogan during the protests that took place in 1968 throughout Kosovo,[41] with the goal of advancing national rights of Albanians and enforcing the political status as an entity within Yugoslavia.[42]

Vetëvendosje! was founded in 2004 and has since been led by Albin Kurti, as a consecutive of KAN (Kosova Action Network) a group promoting active citizenry and direct political participation of the masses.[43][44]
One of the movement's political points is to hold a referendum on union with Albania.[21][45] The movement counts on close to 20,000 activists at their disposal at any time.[citation needed]

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.[46] 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".[47][48]

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.[49][50][51]

Merger with the New Spirit Party[edit]

New Spirit Party (Albanian: Partia Fryma e Re) merged into Vetëvendosje! on 31 March 2011.[52][53] Shpend Ahmeti is currently vice-chairman of Vetëvendosje! and Mayor of Prishtina as of December 2013.[54][55][56]

Merger with Socialist Party of Kosovo[edit]

The Socialist Party of Kosovo, led by Ilaz Kadolli, joined Vetëvendosje! on April 26, 2013.[57] Kurti and Kadolli agreed that the merger will be in the interest of building a strong political and economical state. The party had no representatives in the Kosovo Parliament, but had several in local governments.

Merger with People's Movement of Kosovo[edit]

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".[58][59] Zekaj stated that PMK has a wide membership within Kosovo and abroad, though he didn't provide numbers.[60]

PMK started in 1982 as a Marxist nationalist grouping of Albanian diaspora organizations in Western Europe and is considered the origin of KLA.[61] Most of its leadership moved on with the newly created party Democratic Party of Kosovo of Hashim Thaçi after the war.

Participation in elections[edit]

Parliamentary elections of 2010[edit]

The decision to participate in the coming elections as a political entity led to another arrest of Kurti by EULEX.[62][63][64] In December 2010 the movement participated for the first time in national elections and obtained 12.66% of the votes. According to international election monitoring reports[who?] these elections were the worst in Kosovo history.[citation needed] 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. Vetëvendosje! deposited more than 1,500 complaints. Elections were repeated in many Kosovar municipalities at least once (in the worst cases going up to a total of three rounds of voting in problematic towns like Skenderaj and Mitrovica[65]). 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.[65]
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.[66] 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.[67][68]
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,[69][70] and have continuously introduced it inside the Assembly premises,[71] while ignoring and contesting the symbols of Republic of Kosovo including the State Anthem.[72]

Local elections of 2013[edit]

VV! participated in November 2013 election in every single municipality for the first time. Beside Shpend Ahmeti's victory in the capital Pristina over LDK leader and former mayor Isa Mustafa,[54][55][56] VV! managed to place assembly members in most of the municipalities, though not reaching the second round anywhere else. The movement could not place assembly members in the following municipalities: Dragash, Leposavić, Zvečan, Zubin Potok, Novo Brdo, Gracanica, Mamusha, Partesh, Klokot, and Northern Mitrovica.[73]
In overall, the movement came fourth with a decrease in votes from the last parliamentary elections.[74] A session of the movement's General Council was called on December 15, 2013 which between other things discussed these results as well as necessary action in response to them. According to Ahmeti's words during an interview with Top-Channel, there were also changes in the movement statute which came out of the General Council meeting.[75]

Parliamentary elections of 2014[edit]

In the 2014 elections Vetëvendosje received 13,59% (99.397 votes) remaining the third strongest political force in the Kosovo Assembly with 16 seats.[76] After the publication of the results Vetëvendosje along with the coalition Democratic League-Alliance for the Future of Kosovo-NISMA have tried to thwart Thaci from a new term.[77]

Parliamentary elections of 2017[edit]

In the 2017 elections Vetëvendosje received 27,49% (200.132 votes) making it the biggest political party in the Kosovo Assembly with 32 seats. [78]

Local elections of 2017[edit]

In the 2017 local elections Vetëvendosje won in three municipalities. Shpend Ahmeti narrowly held on to Pristina with less than 51% of the vote in the second round. Vetëvendosje ended the 18 year rule of the Democratic Party of Kosovo in Prizren, a city which they considered their 'Jerusalem', with Mytaher Haskuka also narrowly winning in the second round. Qendron Kastrati won the Dardana municipality with a majority of 55,69% against LDK in the second round.

Controversies[edit]

On 25 August 2009 Vetëvendosje organized protests in Pristina that turned violent, destroying 28 EULEX vehicles, one rioter and three police officers wounded.[79]

On December 10, 2012, US Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson accused VV! of having sent a threatening letter to former State Secretary Madeleine Albright,[80][81] one of the most respected and loved political figures among 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".[82][83] 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,[84][85] which dropped off the race in January 2013.[86][87][88]

"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."[82]

On June 27, 2013, VV! organized a protest against the latest agreement between Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaçi and Serbian prime minister Ivica Dačić during the latest round of political negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade in Brussels hosted by Catherine Ashton.[89][90] Vetëvendosje! tried to block all entrances to the parliament building, in order to hinder the assembly members 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.[91][92] During the protest, US Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson resulted with an injury on her right arm[93] while entering from a secondary entrance together with some assembly members. Although the video evidence[94] showed no physical contact between protesters and US Ambassador, confirmed as well by LDK assemblyman Haki Demolli[95][96] who entered the building together with the US Ambassador, the incident aggravated the already difficult relationship between the US State Department and VV!. The reaction was prompt, following the US Embassy official statement,[97] VV! was criticized by Kosovo government instances,[98][99] political factors,[100][101] as well as public opinion.[102] Even long-time supporter of VV!, former OSCE ambassador Willim Walker, described the action as a "big mistake".[103] According to Zëri newspaper, the US Department of State called Kosovo's Ambassador in Washington, D.C., Akan Ismajli, requiring official explanations, though no comments came from official sources within Kosovo.[104]

"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."[97]


The reaction from VV! was vague, with soon-to-be-gone Alma Lama being the first one to personally apologize to the US Ambassador.[105] 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."[106] 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"'[107]

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker, during his visit to Prishtina a few days later, was harsh and very direct with VV!, calling them "clowns who want to be violent".[108][109][110] VV! responded by calling Reekers' accusations as "unfair and non-democratic"[111] and issuing a letter of complaint to the US Department of State.[112]

In March 2016, activists of Vetëvendosje overturned two trucks carrying Serbian goods in a protest against the Serbian decision not to accept Kosovo Albanian schoolbooks in the Albanian-inhabited Preševo Valley in southern Serbia.[113][114][115][116]

Election results[edit]

Year Votes  % Seats Position +/– Government
2010 88,652 12.69%
14 / 120
3rd 14 Opposition
2014 99,397 13.59%
16 / 120
Steady 3rd Increase 2 Opposition
2017 200,135 27.49%
32 / 120
Increase 1st Increase 16 Opposition

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie (2013). Democratisation through Defiance? The Albanian Civil Organisation 'Self-Determination' and International Supervision in Kosovo. Civil Society and Transitions in the Western Balkans. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 95–116. 

Notes and references[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 112 out of 193 United Nations member states.

References[edit]

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  84. ^ Olluri, Parim (August 18, 2012), Katër Vjet për Shitjen e PTK-së (Four years for selling KPT) (in Albanian), "Jeta në Kosovë" Newspaper Online 
  85. ^ Albright në garë për PTK-në (Albright in race for KPT) (in Albanian), Top-Channel, 2012-08-15 
  86. ^ Albeu.com (11 January 2013), Albright zyrtarisht e tërhequr në garën për privatizimin e PTK-së (Albright drops officially out of the race for KPT) (in Albanian), Time.al 
  87. ^ Albright company withdraws bid for PTK, B92, December 27, 2012 
  88. ^ Albright terhiqet nga gara per blerjen e PTK-se (Albright withdraws from the race for buying KPT) (in Albanian), Lajme Shqip - Infoarkiva, 12 January 2013 
  89. ^ Clashes in Kosovo as MPs ratify ‘normalizing ties’ deal with Serbia (PHOTOS), RT TV, June 27, 2013 
  90. ^ Beqiri, Agron (June 27, 2013), Clashes calm down in Kosovo after agreement with Serbia is ratified, DEMOTIX 
  91. ^ August 2013 Monthly Forecast, Security Council Report, August 2013 
  92. ^ Karadaku, Linda (29 June 2013), Kosovo ratifies agreement with Serbia amid tension, Southeast Europe Times 
  93. ^ Ambasadorja amerikane shpalon lëndimin(U.S. Ambassador reveals injury) (in Albanian), Infoglobi.com, 2013-06-28 
  94. ^ Jacobson, Tracey (27 Jun 2013). Ambasadorja amerikane duke hyrë në Kuvend (US Ambassador entering the Assembly) (YouTube) (in Albanian). Gazeta Tribuna. 
  95. ^ Demolli: Nuk pashë fërkim fizik të VV-së me Jacobson [Demolli: I saw no physical contact between VV! and Jacobson] (in Albanian), Koha TV, 2 July 2013 
  96. ^ Demolli: Nuk pashë fërkim fizik të VV-së me Jacobson [Demolli: I saw no physical contact between VV! and Jacobson] (in Albanian), Telegrafi.com, 2 July 2013 
  97. ^ a b Embassy of the US - Pristina, Kosovo (June 27, 2013), Statement from U.S. Embassy, June 27, 2013, Embassy of the US - Pristina, Kosovo 
  98. ^ Kosovo Council of Ministers (2013-06-27), KOMUNIKATË PËR MEDIA E QEVERISË SË REPUBLIKËS SË KOSOVËS (PRESS RELEASE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO) (in Albanian), Kosovo Prime Minister Office 
  99. ^ President of the Republic of Kosovo (27 June 2013), President Jahjaga condemns the attack on the US Ambassador, Tracey Ann Jacobson, Kosovo President Office 
  100. ^ Ramadani, Burim (31 May 2013). Deputeti i AAK-së, Burim Ramadani, në Zona B (AFK representative, Burim Ramadani, in "Zone B") (in Albanian). Alliance for the Future of Kosovo. 
  101. ^ 'Mesazhi' Portal (28 Qershor 2013), Mustafa dënon veprimin e djeshëm të VV-së (Mustafa condemns yesterday's action of VV!) (in Albanian), 'Mesazhi' Portal  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  102. ^ Koha Ditore (2013-06-28), Edhe shoqëria civile kritikon VV-në për veprime jodemokratike (Civil society criticizes VV! for non-democratic actions) (in Albanian), koha.net 
  103. ^ Walker: Vetëvendosje gaboi rëndë kur pengoi Ambasadoren amerikane (Walker: It was a big mistake from VV! side to stop the US Ambassador) (in Albanian), Bota Sot, 12.09.2013, retrieved 2013-09-13  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  104. ^ DASH thërret ambasadorin kosovar (US State Department calls in the Ambassador of Kosovo) (in Albanian), Top-Channel, 2013-06-28 
  105. ^ Aliu, L. (30 June 2013), Alma i kërkon falje Ambasadores, jo Vetëvendosja (Alma apologizes to the ambassador, not VV!) (in Albanian), Gazeta Express 
  106. ^ VV u kërkon falje ambasadorëve (VV! apologizes to the ambassadors) (in Albanian), Gazeta Zeri, 1 July 2013 
  107. ^ Ahmeti: Më e keqja është marrëveshja, jo lëndimi i ambasadores (Ahmeti: The worst thing is the agreement, not the Ambassador injury) (in Albanian), Fishmedia.info, 2013-06-29 
  108. ^ Riker sulmon ashpër Vetëvendosjen: Janë palaço (Reeker throws a fierce attack on VV!: They are clowns) (in Albanian), Gazeta Tema, 5 July 2013 
  109. ^ Zyrtari amerikan, Filip Riker, vizitoi Kosovën: Vetëvendosja, palaço!(The U.S. official, Philip Reeker, visited Kosovo: VV!, Clowns!) (in Albanian), Gazeta Panorama, 6 July 2013 
  110. ^ Reeker, Philip (5 Jul 2013), RIKER QUANË PALAÇO VETËVENDOSJEN (Reeker calls VV! 'clowns') (YouTube video) (in Albanian), Koha Tv Tetovo 
  111. ^ Gjuha e Reeker, e padrejtë dhe jodemokratike (Reeker's language, unfair and non-democratic) (in Albanian), Reporteri, 5 July 2013 
  112. ^ "Vetëvendosje!" do të ankohet për Philip Reeker te John Kerry (VV! will complain to John Kerry about Philip Reeker) (in Albanian), Shqiptarja.com, 6 July 2013 
  113. ^ "Kosovo Activists Overturn Serbian Truck in Schoolbook Protest". Balkan Insight. 2016-03-03. 
  114. ^ "Kosovo Govt Condemns Attack on Serbian Truck". Balkan Insight. 2016-03-04. 
  115. ^ "Kosovo Opposition Activists Overturn Second Serbian Truck". Balkan Insight. 2016-03-11. 
  116. ^ "Radical Kosovo activists overturn truck with Serbian goods". B92. 2016-03-03. 

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