The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, denied on Friday evening the suspicions of misuse of state reserves in the Ministry of Industry, Enterprise and Trade (MINT), while accusing, as he said, “the old and corrupt political elite, its judges and prosecutors and misused media to support crime”, for trying to return “the former rotten and corrupt system”.
He made these comments through a video message shared on social networks a few hours after the Special Prosecutor’s Office of Kosovo said it arrested three people on suspicion of abuse of office.
Among them are two officials of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Enterprise, Hafiz Gara, director of State Reserves and Irfan Lipovica, director of the Department for European Integration, who was previously secretary in this ministry. According to local media, the third person arrested is businessman Ridvan Muharremi.
The operation followed the publication of some audio recordings from the “Nacionale” portal, in which two officials of the Ministry of Industry are heard, who during a conversation claim that the oil contracted and paid for in Poland for the state reserves of Kosovo never arrived. According to records, the same thing happened with wheat reserves.
Prime Minister Kurti said that “97 percent of the value purchased last year has arrived in Kosovo, including 99.5 percent of the amount of wheat that is already in warehouses in our country, and for the remaining part, the supplier companies have an obligation to open to fulfill the contract, and if they do not do so there are legal proceedings. There is no corruption or misuse.”
Prime Minister Kurti said that his government represents a radical change compared to the 20-year government of Kosovo and “as such, it necessarily produces both its winners and its losers”.
“You find the losers in the old and corrupt political elite, in the court and its prosecutors, in the misused media to support crime. Although few in number, their benefits have been multi-millions, so they can’t help but feel like big losers. Their efforts to change the situation are in the service of the plan to return the former rotten and corrupt system. In the best case, they are trying to somehow preserve the wealth accumulated with hatred and corruption, the artificial and harmful monopolies that they have made with crime and misuse of official office. But, they will fail both in their aspiration for the return of the misuse, as well as in the aim of smearing those who contribute to the non-return of that period”, said Prime Minister Kurti, among other things.
Friday’s arrests prompted a reaction from the opposition, which demanded accountability from senior government officials.
Flour, medicines, oil, sugar, hygiene products, oil, etc. are part of the state reserves that can be used in case of declaring a state of emergency as a result of natural disasters, wars or in case of shortages when these items are missing from the market.