Photo: Urim Krasniqi/BIRN

Ruling Party Member Emerges as Front-Runner for RTK Board Amid Party Affiliation

Mehmet Kalisi, a member of the governing party Vetëvendosje, has emerged as a leading contender for a seat on the RTK board, securing the top position in an ad-hoc commission evaluation. Amidst concerns regarding party affiliation, Kalisi asserts that he is unaffiliated.

A member of the governing party Vetëvendosje, VV, [although he now claims not to belong to any party] may soon become a member of the RTK board after emerging as the highest scorer from an ad-hoc commission of the Kosovo Assembly, composed of 10 deputies, 5 of whom were from Vetëvendosje. 

In the recent elections for the Kosovo Assembly, Mehmet Kalisi lost the internal competition within Vetëvendosje branch in the municipality of Han i Elezit, to be on the deputy list against Mirsad Shkreta, only by one vote. 

However, two years later, Kalisi emerged as the highest scorer from a commission consisting of deputies from the Kosovo Assembly for the RTK board.

Thus, Mehmet Kalisi may soon become a member of the public media board. He gathered 904 points from the 10 members of the evaluation commission, five of them from Vetëvendosje. The process of selecting RTK board members is now in the hands of the Assembly deputies, as the commission recommended six names for the RTK board. In an interview with BIRN, Mehmet Kalisi admitted that he was a member of Vetëvendosje, the governing party.

“Yes, I was a candidate, I didn’t win by one vote. I was a member [of Vetëvendosje] because without being a member, you cannot be a candidate,” stated Mehmet Kalisi. 

However, the candidate who emerged as the highest scorer from the evaluation commission in the Kosovo Assembly for the RTK board said he was not favoured, nor was he part of Vetëvendosje. 

“No, I was not favoured because both opposition and ruling party deputies voted. They accuse me of being close to Agim Veliu and the PDK, which is not true now,” said Kalisi. 

“I have been a member of the Vetëvendosje party and a candidate for deputy. These are undeniable facts, and I have been a voter of Vetëvendosje. I have been a member of other parties earlier; these do not undermine the fact that I was the best candidate. Currently, I am not a member of any political party” – Mehmet Kalisi emphasised.

With a maximum score of 100, Mehmet Kalisi was evaluated by deputies of Vetëvendosje, Valon Ramadani, and Besim Muzaqi, while the Democratic League of Kosovo deputy, Agim Veliu, also gave him 100 points. Fitim Haziri from Vetëvendosje also gave Mehmet Kalisi a high score of 99, and with 95 points each, Kalisi was evaluated by deputies Isak Shabani of the PDK and Nijazi Isaku of LVV. 

Time Kadrijaj gave the lowest score to Mehmet Kalisi. The deputy from the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo rated him only with 70 points, while Armend Zemaj of LDK and Tinka Kurti of LVV gave Kalisi 85 points each. In the end, Fidan Jilta from the Turkish Democratic Party rated him with 75 points. 

On the other hand, Mirsad Shkreta acknowledged that Mehmet Kalisi was in an internal competition within the party for the candidacy for deputy. However, according to him, Mehmet Kalisi was not part of the party structures when they competed for the candidacy from the Vetëvendosje branch in Han i Elezit. 

“Yes, Mehmet Kalisi competed with me as a possible candidate for deputies from Han i Elezit. I don’t remember the number of votes; it was a close result,” said Shkreta in an interview for BIRN. 

“Mr. Kalisi is being honest; he has never been a member of LVV. It seems he was proposed at that time, proposed as a cadre,” said Shkreta. The interview with the candidates for RTK board members took place on November 1, and the six most highly rated candidates were selected.

Mehmet Kalisi, Ilir Bytyçi, Albinot Maloku, Shukrije Rama, Naile Demiri, and Dritan Shaipi are the highest-scoring candidates out of the 13 interviewed candidates by the Kosovo Assembly’s ad-hoc commission for the selection of three RTK board members. 

The current chairman and vice-chairwoman of the RTK board, Besnik Boletini and Arta Berisha, did not make it to the list of the highest-scoring candidates. Boletini and Berisha were part of the RTK board for two years, during which they did not select any women in high management positions, despite the fact that three of them ranked highest when they applied for top positions, a fact Boletini was questioned about during the interview for RTK board membership. 

Data related to the absence of women in top management were exposed in a BIRN investigation titled ‘Radio Television of Men,’ and it went against the established practice where the Parliament had set a quota of 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men on the board.

There has been a discrepancy in the evaluation of RTK board member candidates between the scores given by deputies from the ruling party and the opposition. Some candidates got high scores from  the ruling party deputies, and low scores from deputies of the opposition, and vice versa. 

The names of the six highest-scoring candidates will be sent to the Kosovo Assembly, and the selection of three RTK board members will be in the hands of the deputies.

17/11/2023 - 13:52

17 November 2023 - 13:52

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