The basic goal of the reforms of the local self-government and the public administration on Kosmet is to make these institutions closer to the citizens, as citizens expect to fulfill their needs through institutions and to decisively influence decisions of importance for their community.
These are just some characteristics pointed by Carlo Civiletti, ambassador and chief of the mission of the Council of Europe for the decentralization in Kosovo and Metohija.
POLITIKA: Last year, the media announced that the mission of the Council of Europe would compile a document on the decentralization of Kosovo and Metohija. There were also recommendations on the reforms of the local self-government?
CIVILETTI: Basically, the implementation of the decentralization and the suggested reforms of the local self-government address same or similar problems. In any case, we decided that the name of the project would be reforms of the local self-government, because this is a broader topic and is more suited to what needs to be done on Kosovo.
Yes we did. I can confidently say that we tried to find solutions that would be acceptable for all citizens, that is members of all ethnic communities.
Does the document provide means for protection of human rights of minority communities?
Protection of human rights is a broader issue, which needs to be regulated by several documents. Reforms of the local self-government offer all citizens a possibility to fulfill their rights; this also goes for the members of minority communities.
Will reforms of the local self-government stimulate the return of the displaced in Kosovo and Metohija?
Globally, yes. Returnees will know what they are coming to, and in what way and through which institutions they can fulfill their human rights and solve certain problems. Also, the returnees can immediately take part in the democratic process and decision making at the local level. This should motivate them. But there are also other problems connected with the return process. We should not forget that problems of the economy and safety need to be regulated through other documents as well, and need to be discussed on levels higher then the local government level.
Are reforms in the local self-government related to the future status of Kosovo and Metohija?
No. These reforms are needed in Kosovo regardless of its future status. I am obligated to point that reforms are proposed in the manner that would enable this region to achieve European standards. This supports the "standards before status" approach of the international community.
First of all, there are very few municipalities, given the size of the population. In large municipalities, with many inhabitants, it is practically impossible to have contact with the citizens and attend to their needs. A typical example of this situation is the Pristina municipality with half a million citizens. It is very important that citizens have contact with units of local self-government.
What would be the basic unit of local self-government on Kosovo and Metohija?
Let me use the local term, a local commune or a sub-municipality. It is safe to say that a sub-municipality would be a local municipality, and the already existing municipalities would become regional municipalities. It is recommended that Kosovo have 180 sub-municipalities. This would mean that on average one sub-municipality would have 5,000 citizens. In rural areas, some sub-municipalities could have 1,000 to 2,500 inhabitants. On the other hand some sub-municipalities in the cities would have 15 to 20 thousand inhabitants.
Which institutions would exist within a sub-municipality?
A local Council and a president of the council. Of course, a sub-municipality would have its own offices.
Which places would have the status of cities?
Those would be Pristina, Kosovska Mitrovica, Pec, Gnjilane, Urosevac, Prizren, and Djakovica. It is planned that Pristina have 12 sub-municipalities, while the rest of them will have two or three. When will the reforms start?
Everything started on Tuesday, when the document was handed over to UNMIK. It will be developed step by step because there is a lot to be done.
What will be the hardest part?
The Council of Europe mission predicts that the hardest part will be to determine the sub-municipality borders. Then we shall have to regulate the management of public [state] property. I can say that at this moment we have not covered that area with appropriate legislation.
Will there be sub-municipalities in which the Serbs would be a majority?
Yes. But it is also recommended that some of the existing municipalities such as Novo Brdo, become sub-municipalities. This is because Novo Brdo has only four thousand inhabitants, and according to our project one unit should have five thousand inhabitants.
What is the crucial moment for the reform?
That would be the elections for the local self-government, which are planed for 2006. In those elections people would choose representatives for local sub-municipalities, municipalities, and cities.
How much would the reform cost?
It is predicted that in the next four years 7.3 million Euros will be spent for the improvement of functioning of local self-government and public administration. It is presumed that the expenses for the functioning of the new local self-government and public administration will increase by 10 to 15 percent in comparison with the current expenses. But I have to add that the efficiency will increase, the incomes will increase and that the new administrative units will have at their disposal bigger founds for solving problems at the local level.