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Kosovo elections: Turkish political parties hopeful

Turkish Democratic Party of Kosovo, Innovative Turkish Movement Party evaluate upcoming general elections

Eren Beksac   | 11.02.2021
Kosovo elections: Turkish political parties hopeful FILE PHOTO

PRISTINA, Kosovo

Leaders of Turkish political parties in Kosovo are hopeful for early general elections to be held Sunday.

Kosovo's president in early June dissolved the assembly and called for early parliamentary elections on Feb. 14.

The chairman of the Turkish Democratic Party of Kosovo (KDTP), Fikrim Damka, and Innovative Turkish Movement Party (YTHP) head Ertan Simitci evaluated the upcoming ballot for Anadolu Agency.

Damka said that despite the fact that Kosovo will mark its 13th independence anniversary on Feb. 17, it has been unable to fulfill some of the criteria to become a state.

"Our [Turkish community] goal in this structure is to preserve our place in the majority community of Kosovo and ensure the best legal use of the rights mandated by law. I believe that the KDTP will demonstrate this," said Damka.

Damka pointed out that the political instability caused by the fall of two governments established during the novel coronavirus pandemic has also had a major impact on the country's economy.

Underlining the need to use Kosovo's ties with Turkey to enhance economic development, he said: "If we can enable Turkish businessmen to invest more in Kosovo, our young people can be easily employed."

He added that due to this political instability, minority communities in Kosovo have faced difficulties exercising their rights.

Eight different governments have ruled Kosovo since independence 13 years ago.

"I hope a stable government will be given the opportunity to [...] realize our promises to the people within four years," said Damka.

Problems and proposals in Turkish education 

Among the major issues for the Turkish community in Kosovo, Damka said it would be essential to resolve problems with the curriculum of Turkish-language for a long-term solution.

"We have initiated a scholarship project in cooperation with the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities in order to sustain Turkish education in Kosovo. With the project carried out by the Kosovo Turkish Teachers Association, nearly 400 first and second-grade primary school students were given scholarships," said Damka.

No luxury to be divided

Amid the Turkish community's low population, Damka underlined the dangers of disunity for the minority group.

"I have no doubt that the division of a small population into two, having two different voices in the parliament, and not acting as one will cause serious problems for the rights of our society," he said.

Noting that there are "different problems" arising from the division of deputies among two different Turkish parties, Damka added: "As long as we are one, we will have more vocal and stronger power in the government. This [disunity] will put Turkish society in serious trouble both in the short and long term."

Damka said his party sought to secure Turkish citizenship for every member of the community in Kosovo.

"We'll never give up. Our ultimate goal is to gain citizenship from the homeland Republic of Turkey for all Kosovo citizens registered as Turkish in the census," said Damka.

Public employment

Meanwhile, YTHP president Simitci said the biggest problem faced by the Turkish community was their inability to fully exercise their right to employment in the public sector.

"There has been a change in Kosovo's politics and Kosovo Turks should also contribute to this change by taking responsibility. If the two Turkish parties in the political scene of Kosovo act jointly, the voting turnout of the Turkish community will also increase," said Simitci.

Noting that his party had set several goals for the Turkish community, he said:

"The Turkish community living in Kosovo had no goals until now [...] All the work that needs to be done until 2030 is in our party program and election declaration. One of the most important points is to be represented in the public, to develop Turkish education, and to protect our citizens living abroad or citizens of Kosovo origin," said Simitci.

Turkish presence in parliament

The Assembly of Kosovo is made up of 120 deputies, 10 of whom are representatives of the Serbian community and 10 being from other minority communities in the country.

The Turkish community has 2 seats in the parliament.

* Written by Talha Ozturk in Belgrade

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