The Kosovo Minister of Diaspora, Ibrahim Makolli takes a stand for representing the Kosovo Diaspora in the country’s Parliament. In an interview with Albinfo.ch, Minister Makolli emphasizes the political, academic, intellectual and economic potential of the diaspora, which could be beneficial for the legislative but also for other institutions in Pristina. Last year in September, Makolli demanded the Committee for Constitutional Changes to ensure seats for the diaspora in the Parliament.
Albinfo.ch: Mr. Minister, your request for the Diaspora representation is currently being discussed at the Parliament. You requested reserved seats for the leaders of Kosovars living abroad?
Minister Makolli: This idea is not new. Considering the role and contribution of our diaspora and taking into account their political, intellectual and academic potential, it is obvious that the diaspora should have a direct influence on political decision processes.
We have examples of other states, which have reserved seats for their diasporas in their respective Parliaments. Although, the contribution of the diaspora into these countries is much less compared to how much the Kosovo diaspora has contributed to Kosovo. Therefore, I think the voice of the diaspora should be represented in the highest institution of our country.
Albinfo.ch: You suggested that the Parliament Committee for Constitutional Changes should consider the question of diaspora representation at the Parliament.
Minister Makolli: Last year  in September, we made an analysis and presented our recommendations to the commission. We demanded representation of the diaspora within the framework of the Constitutional changes. We hope that the Committee will take our request into consideration, which is also being supported by the political parties.
Albinfo.ch: How many seats should be reserved for the members of Diaspora in Kosovo’s Parliament?
Minister Makolli: This has to be decided by the Committee. Based on our analysis, we suggested 3 to 5 seats for the diaspora members.
Albinfo.ch: It is said that one third of the Kosovo people live abroad. Are 5 seats for the social group enough? And how will the election campaign be organized for these seats?
Minister Makolli: It will be just like in any other country. Our diaspora can be divided in constituencies, for instance, in 2 or 3 constituencies, depending on the number of candidates. 3 seats can be reserved for the European representation, for instance. Elections should follow the criteria and rules that are valid for elections in Kosovo.
Albinfo.ch: How difficult are the elections in the diaspora going to be?
Minister Makolli: Elections abroad are complex, even for countries with advanced mechanisms. We cannot remain in a position in which we say that we do not have the necessary means and, therefore, we cannot do anything about it. It is feasible. In some states we have diplomatic representatives, we have an agreement with Albania and we can ask for support in other countries. In a technical aspect, these points should be doable. Regarding financial matters, elections are an expensive affair, however, democracy and its development is priceless.
Albinfo.ch: Mr. Minister, would the diaspora have to be registered first, in order for the elections to take place?
Minister Makolli: I think that this is a misinterpretation. This is about two different things. On the one hand, there is the population index and on the other hand, there is the civic index. Our diaspora that lives abroad and has a Kosovar citizenship is in the electoral registry, because every citizen of voting-age is listed in this register.
Albinfo.ch: This might be true for the first and second generation. But what about the third generation, that mainly has foreign citizenship?
Minister Makolli: This generation also has Kosovo documentation. According to the Constitution, even children born abroad have the right to Kosovo citizenship. Consequently, they are listed in the electoral registry as well. The number of voters in Kosovo is about the same as the number of population of voting-age, which means that they are included in the voting registry. From this perspective, the elections abroad should be neither a technical, nor a political issue.
Albinfo.ch: Mister Makolli, if Diaspora is to be represented in the country’s Parliament, should the Ministry of Diaspora exist in the government?
Minister Makolli: The underlying idea is to be represented in the highest legislative institution.
Albinfo.ch: In practice, how does it look like with other states? How do you organize the diaspora-representation in the Parliament?
Minister Makolli: Representation at the Parliament is an indication that the country of origin appreciates the potential abroad. Examples for that are Italy, France, Croatia, and most recently Macedonia. Our diaspora has a great intellectual and political potential, and able to utilize that for Kosovo.
Albinfo.ch: The chairman of the Self Determination Movement (Vetëvendosje!) and the head of of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs, Albin Kurti, recommended to you to have the Diaspora represented in the government, rather than to have the government represent the diaspora. Do you agree with him?
Minister Makolli: Everyone has his/her own perspective on that. I believe that my actions and those of the Ministry of Diaspora are within the framework of the diaspora interest-representation in Kosovo. Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion and their own viewpoint, but I am saying this with the highest responsibility, we have exclusively been in service for the Diaspora ever since the Ministry was established.
Albinfo.ch: Now, I would like to pose a question about investments. Is there a safe climate for diaspora-investments in Kosovo?
Minister Makolli: In the past months, there have been improvements in the legal infrastructure regarding real investments. In order to create a safer investment climate in Kosovo, some laws were passed and some are still under revision. Many communities have specific business-zones, some even repealed taxes, in order to attract as many investors as possible. Also the Judiciary increased its efficiency. An encouraging message is that from January 2013 and on, the judicial system plans to introduce facilitation reforms in this area.
Albinfo.ch: Can the most recent Parliamentary debate be discouraging to foreign investors, for instance for the Kosovo Diaspora?
Minister Makolli: Of course this makes people hesitant. There are scenes which try to influence the election campaign. My advice to potential investors is not to let politics of the day influence them. In such politics we attack each other in order to win the elections. Also the wording should be more moderate, since this is what often frightens potential investors.
End of Interview.
Source: “3-5 Seats for Diaspora Members in the Parliament.” Albinfo.ch. March 15, 2012. http://www.albinfo.ch/de/ch-balkan/aktuell/3-bis-5-sitze-f%C3%BCr-die-diaspora-im-parlament-93739