On November 7, the Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) in partnership with the Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM) held a Roundtable Discussion on the topic: ‘’Assessing the strengths and weaknesses in the Rule of Law state-of-play in Kosovo and Macedonia’’, held in Prishtina. In the context of the Rule of Law Programme in South East Europe of Konrad- Adenauer-Stiftung, findings were presented by both organizations on the evaluation of the current state of play of the Rule of Law in Kosovo and Macedonia. The aim of this event was to discuss the main challenges and best practices encountered during the assessment in a comparative manner in order to compare the data gathered from both countries and identify the shortcomings and best practices. The reports contribute towards the shaping of the agenda for tackling the priorities in the reform process. The methodology, as stated, is based on the Rule of Law Checklist, developed and adopted by the Venice Commission which is used as a tool for systematic assessment of the fundamental pillars of the rule of law. This is the first in-depth analysis done by civil society based on this Checklist, being it a pilot-project on the Rule of Law. Both comprehensive and analytical reports offer a reality check for both countries – Kosovo’s overall Rule of Law fulfillment score was of 54.2% and Macedonia of 68.4%. The main challenge for both countries is widespread corruption, which directly affects the independence and impartiality of the judicial system as well as the indictments on high-level cases. The author of the Report, Ms. Matias, presented Kosovo’s results. The research showed that the legal framework in place often didn’t match the situation in practice: ‘’ There is a need to revitalize the confidence and trust in the relationship between citizens and the State in Kosovo. As one of the world’s youngest democracies, a Kosovo-specific concept of the Rule of Law is still taking shape outside formalistic ideas’’. She emphasized that ‘’Ensuring transparency, accountability and responsiveness through the principles of the Rule of Law is pivotal and will contribute towards stability and security in the region. This can be achieved through a more fitting implementation of the existing legislation. As things stand, the laws are constantly changing in order to better reform and increase effectiveness of the system’’. Kosovo’s alignment with international law and its provisions on equality before the law for all ethnic groups was listed as a best practice, while issues with stability and consistency of the laws as well as abuse of powers by the executive were noted as the biggest challenges to legal certainty. In addition, Mr. Aleksandar Cekov, Researcher at the Center for Research and Policy Making, stated that ‘’the best category fulfillment was Equality before the law, which means that the county ensures that all citizens can enjoy their rights and seek protection by the law should their right be violated. The worst result was in the misuse of power category, Macedonia has been experiencing severe political and institutional crisis in the past years’’. Despite the fact that separation of powers is defined in the Constitution and further regulated with the laws and bylaws, there are often cases where the law provisions are not respected fully. He noted that ‘’findings of the analysis have shown that whilst legal and institutional frameworks are largely in place, the implementation still remains weak spot in the process.’’ A constructive discussion followed the panelists’ presentations which addressed the comparative nature of both policy reports presented as well as prospects of European integration given the quantitative and qualitative date found. Mr. Harmut Rank from the Konrad- Adenauer-Stiftung closed the event by encouraging these findings be widely disseminated among high rank officials in the region and in the EU and that this Rule of Law pilot-project be extended to other countries in the Western Balkans. Implementing the action in this time is important because even with the changes of the respective governments, Macedonia and Kosovo still remain deeply divided societies under various lines: ethnic, political, religious and economic. Thus, the full application of the rule of law principles is crucial to address these lines of division by providing legal and political certainty as a mean for mitigating some future crises.
Hartmut Rank – Director, Rule of Law Programme South East Europe, Konrad Adenauer Foundation;
Zhidas Daskalovski – President, Center for Research and Policy Making;
Bárbara Matias – International Research Fellow, Group for Legal and Political Studies;
Aleksandar CEKOV – Research Fellow, Center for Research and Policy Making;
Ms. Rreze Hoxha – Research Fellow, Group for Legal and Political Studies.
Venue: Orion Conference Center, 10000 Prishtina, Kosovo
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