Truths and lies told by local and international politicians, as documented by Kosovo’s first truth-o-meter.
2017 was an eventful year for fact-checkers worldwide, and it has been no different for BIRN Kosovo’s and Internews Kosova’s truth-o-meter Krypometer.
Krypometer, launched in December 2016, managed to check over 60 statements by international and national politicians throughout 2017, holding them accountable for their broken promises, and sometimes, outright lies.
In December 2017, the first Albanian language fact-checker also managed to become a member of Poynter’s International Fact-Checkers Network, IFCN, after undergoing an external vetting process.
The platform sieved through statements made by Kosovo’s political leaders, including Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, former Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, and current Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. Kallxo.com journalists even ‘caught’ local politicians and EU high officials ‘red-handed.’
Here is a list of Krypometer’s highlights from the year we left behind.
PM Haradinaj breaks records for having a large cabinet & denies it (futilely)
When Jeta Xharra, BIRN director and moderator of ‘Jeta ne Kosove,’ interviewed Ramush Haradinaj prior to national elections in June last year, the future Prime Minister promised that his government would have only one deputy minister per ministry, not two, as Isa Mustafa’s cabinet had at the time.
Fast forward to post-election haggling and Haradinaj’s cabinet grew to be the largest cabinet ever with five deputy PMs, 21 ministers and 73 deputy ministers.
Krypometer first fact-checked the Prime Minister’s statement that he would not have more than one deputy-minister for each portfolio, assessing his statement as an absolute lie, and then compared the cabinet members of the Mustafa and Haradinaj cabinets, establishing that Mustafa was right to point out that Haradinaj’s cabinet was much larger than his own.
PM Mustafa’s statements about corruption & economic growth
In January 2017, Prime Minister Mustafa raised eyebrows when he declared that “no corruption affair has happened during this mandate… Every official who is indicted will be suspended.” But by March, he had to backtrack on his own words when an indictment for abuse of office was raised against Delibor Jevtic, Minister for Return and Communities. He and two other high officials in his ministry who were accused abuse of office were not suspended.
In February, Mustafa also claimed that his government had decreased unemployment from 34 per cent to 26 per cent. Krypometri found his statement to be partly true – according to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics, unemployment had decreased to 27.5 per cent.
Broken promises during election times
Before the Kosovo Assembly passed a motion of no-confidence againsts Mustafa’s government in May 2017, Kadri Veseli, the Assembly Speaker and the head of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, promised that “the Kosovo government will not fall in the Assembly.”
Krypometer checked his statement from February and concluded that by May Veseli had changed his position, breaking his promise when his party voted for sending the country to extraordinary elections.
Behgjet Pacolli, head of the New Kosovo Alliance, AKR, issued multiple statements that he later had to swallow too. Before the June elections, when some Kosovo parties congregated into two opposing coalitions, Pacolli had maintained that he would never join a coalition with the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, or PDK.
In early May, AAK’s Ramush Haradinaj also insisted that he would never form a coalition with PDK or LDK. He broke his promise just as the deadline for party registration with the Central Election Committee was nearing midnight on May 16, when Haradinaj signed a deal with PDK to run together. Krypometer found his statements as absolute lies.
Teuta Rugova, LDK MP, also experienced a similar change of heart: in July, the MP said she’d never vote against the party-line. By August, she ended up being a tie-breaker, voting for Haradinaj’s government, which passed in the Assembly with the simple majority of 61 votes. Krypometer found her statements to be absolute lies.
Failed predictions for the Mitrovica bridge
In August 2016, High Representative of the European Union Federica Mogherini promised that the bridge over the Ibar River would be open for vehicular traffic by January 20, 2017, marking the end of Mitrovica’s ethnic divide. But in December 2016, a ‘walled amphitheater’ had appeared in northern Mitrovica overnight. By January, the wall remained, and only in February did the EU manage to reach an agreement among the Kosovo central government and North Mitrovica mayor. The wall has been removed since, but the bridge has yet to be opened for vehicular traffic. Krypometri found that Mogherini’s statement was a lie.
But she was not the only one who made false statements about the wall. Kosovo’s main political leaders–President Hashim Thaci, PDK leader Veseli, and former Prime Minister Mustafa–all promised that the wall would be taken down by January. In February it was still up – proving their ‘promises’ to be false.
Local governments’ hoodwinking
Before becoming South Mitrovica Mayor, Agim Bahtiri had promised to create 15,000 new jobs. Upon being elected, Bahtiri did open a mushroom factory, but failed to produce all the jobs he promised. Indeed according to ASK data, between 2013- 2016, only 10,000 new jobs were created in all of Kosovo.
Before becoming Fushe Kosova Mayor, Burim Berisha had promised that he’d ensure that his municipality would have functional water supply by 2010. Fast forward to local elections in 2017, and Fushe Kosova residents were still struggling with water supply restrictions.
Even Prishtina Mayor Shpend Ahmeti had residents in the capital fooled when he promised that the new buses would start working by January 11. By the end of January, they still hadn’t. Luckily the buses became operational in February.
Throughout 2017, Krypometeter also managed to find Kosovo politicians telling the truth, albeit rarely. Prishtina Mayor Ahmeti, for example, was spot on about his promise to equip Prishitna with a 24-hour water supply.
AKR MP Korab Sejdiu also kept his promise and did not vote for the Haradinaj-led PAN government, even after his party joined the governing coalition. In the same vein, Drenas Mayor Ramiz Lladrovci kept his electoral promise that half of his cabinet would be composed of women. Upon getting the seat, Lladrovci appointed five women to lead various directorates in his municipality.
08 February 2018 - 17:30
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