US ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett. Photo: BIRN.

US withdraws support for property verification agency

The US embassy in Prishtina removes its representative from the board of the Kosovo Property Comparison and Verification Agency due to a politicized appointment at the head of the agency.

On Friday, the US embassy’s representative resigned from the board of the Kosovo Property Comparison and Verification Agency, AKVP, as a form of protest against the selection of Naser Shala as the Agency’s head by the Assembly of Kosovo in March.

US officials have described Shala’s appointment as “unmerited” and one that undermines citizens’ faith and trust in institutions.

“The U.S. has resigned from KPVCA Board, as the UK did earlier,” US ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett wrote on Twitter. “We won’t continue when its leadership serves personal and political interests rather than the people. Selecting unqualified cronies for government positions hurts Kosovo’s image and betrays the public trust.” 

The UK’s ambassador to Kosovo, Ruairi O’Connell, embraced the decision. “There is no point wasting our time trying to help Kosovo institutions when the majority in the Kosovo assembly don’t care and when individuals feel no shame about taking jobs unfairly that they cannot possibly do properly,” he said in a public post on Facebook. 

“Nepotism, cronyism, corruption and state capture will ruin Kosovo. The patience of Kosovo’s friends is wearing out. Kosovo citizens deserve better, but only if they choose to punish those who engage in these practices,” O’Connell continued. 

The British diplomat, who will soon leave Prishtina, had himself resigned as the Head of the Board of Directors of AKVP in March after Shala’s appointment. 

Shala, nicknamed ‘Ftyra’ or ‘the Face’ during the war, was a subordinate of outgoing deputy prime minister Fatmir Limaj during Limaj’s time as a commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army.

His selection to the top position of the AKVP is in conflict with the memorandum of understanding concluded between the British Embassy in Prishtina, the Kosovo Government, and the Assembly. The memorandum requires Kosovo institutions to consider the recommendations of BDO, the British company charged for monitoring the recruitment procedure during the recruitment of individuals to top positions in public institutions.

The AKVP is one such public institution, one of the key roles of which is the comparison between cadaster records – the listing of property, land and real estate – especially checking discrepancies between those that exist in Serbia and those being used by Kosovo institutions.

16/08/2019 - 19:28

16 August 2019 - 19:28

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.