Opening remarks by Maria Suokko,

Resident Representative, UNDP in Kosovo

11 December 2020

Ambassador Szunyog,

Honorable Judge Daka,

Distinguished Member of Parliament Mr. Murati,

Representatives of political parties and civil society,

Ladies and gentlemen;

It is my great pleasure to welcome you, on behalf of UNDP, to this discussion on transparency and accountability in the financing of political parties.

Healthy democratic processes rely on voters making informed decisions - that includes how money influences politics. Elected officials, and the parties to which they belong, should exemplify integrity and accountability to voters.

The lawful and transparent appropriation and spending of public funds, as well as private donations, is a prerequisite for a democratic society and the rule of law. Furthermore, it shows commitment to fighting corruption, to EU integration and to the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals;

For several years now, the adoption of legislation to improve the regulation of party transparency and accountability has proven challenging.

As we mark the International Anti-corruption Day – or week - it is now an opportune moment for Members of Parliament and political parties to show commitment to the principles of transparency and accountability.

To ensure that the law on political party financing is in line with these principles and the international standards outlined in the Venice Commission’s opinion on Kosovo’s draft law, it is necessary that the law provides for:

o   an enhanced and empowered Office of Political Parties free of political influence;

o   a mandate to issue proportionate and cautionary sanctions;

o   and timely reporting and auditing of financial statements;

We should be reminded that more than 4 million Euros of public funds are distributed to political entities annually. On top of this, parties receive private donations. Particularly now, as businesses and individuals suffer from economic hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more important that money is carefully disbursed and spent.

Political parties should not only be legally obliged but feel morally responsible to support the functioning of financial control and monitoring mechanisms, publish their financial statements, and fully cooperate with auditors and judicial authorities.  

We remain hopeful that this legislature will show a clear commitment and act to build a sound political party financing system and pass legislation in line with the Venice Commission recommendations. This would send a strong message to the people that Kosovo is committed to the highest principles of good governance.

Finally, I wish to thank our dear partners and donors, the Swiss Development Cooperation office in Kosovo, and SIDA through the Swedish Embassy in Kosovo, for their support to UNDP’s SAEK project, and to our co-host - the EU Office in Kosovo -  for joining us in organizing this important event;

I look forward to a fruitful discussion;

Thank you for your attention!

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