Privatisation proponents criticise their opponents' statist mind set and claim the process is inevitable.
By Safet Kabashaj for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 13/10/12
Protestors against the privatisation of Kosovo's biggest state enterprises told parliament ignoring the 60,000-strong petition will lead to more protests. [Safet Kabashaj/SETimes]
Some Kosovo workers are concerned about the goverment plans to privatise the country's two biggest enterprises -- Post and Telecom (PTK) and the Energy Corporation (KEK).
"If they sell these corporations, many workers will lose their jobs and poverty will increase. Bear in mind that some of them are in an advanced age," Bislim Ademi, a miner from Pristina, told SETimes.
Many are also concerned about government corruption and criticise its lack of transparency.
"In principle, I am not against privatisation, but the problem is there is no consultation with the workers, no debate in parliament, simply no transparency," Ismail Gashi, a KEK employee who supports the union initiative, told SETimes.
The Alliance of Independent Unions of Kosovo organised mass protests and a petition last month against the plans, but many said they believe the government will not budge.
The unions delivered the petition to parliament and warned if the government privatises the companies as well as liquidates the Trepca mine, it will organise additional protests.
"Over 61,000 people have signed this petition, expressing their will against the privatisation," Haxhi Arifi, leader of the union, said.
Arifi said the immediate goal is to prevent the government from signing an agreement with the Turkish consortium Limak-Calik to privatise KEK.
Most bloggers voice frustration with the privatisation and support the unionists' initiative and calls for additional protests. They point out that people have lost faith in the government, which itself stands to benefit from the privatisation.
"People should get together to stop the crime the government is exposing the people of Kosovo to," Lisi said.
"There must be protests against the way the privatisation is unfolding," Hachikos said. "KEK is likely to be privatised for 26 million euros but it is worth 500 million euros, and PTK will be sold for 500 million euros, while its real value is over 1 billion euros," he added.
While some marvel at the 61,000 collected petition signatures in a country of a little over 1.5 million, others believe only mass support would prevent the determined government.
"I signed the petition to prevent the selling of Kosovo's last assets and hope for a strong support from other alliances, not just from the unions," Metja said.
Call to mobilise stem from citizen awareness of the dire economic straits Kosovo is in and the view that privatising the PTK -- Kosovo's most valuable corporation -- does not make sense under the circumstances.
"Each one should get out and join the protest because they are selling the most profitable corporations, the biggest contributors to the Kosovo budget," Cani said.
But privatisation proponents argued the process must move forward because it is most beneficial for Kosovo, and criticise the unions' statist mind set.
"PTK employees are used to receiving good salaries, just like during communism, without effective performance. Let me remind you that PTK has the worst, yet most expensive, service in the region," Musliu said.
Some, fearing an impasse, propose a solution to take into account both sides. "Let there be a referendum, so the people will decide," Nuki said.
Many, however, are sceptical the unions will not achieve their goal and believe privatisation is unavoidable.
"Even the protest organisers are aware the privatisation can not be stopped at this point," Naseri said.