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Kosovo: Advisory Board to protect Trepça’s interests

Prishtinë, Sept 7, 2006 - The first meeting of the newly formed Trepça Advisory Board took place on Tuesday in Mitrovica. Chaired on this occasion by UNMIK Chief Joachim Ruecker, the Advisory Board will be the focal point for consultations of key stakeholders on all issues relating to the protection and revitalisation of Trepça.

In a press conference, on the occasion of the establishment of this Board, Ruecker and Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Çeku said that the privatization of Trepça would go through different phases. They reminded the Advisory Board of its duty to protect the Trepça Mining Complex from potential creditors’ claims, as well as to consider the possibilities of activating other different components, TVs and dailies in Kosovo report.

With the establishment of the Advisory Board, the Trepça mines would go towards privatization. This is one of the main issues, with which the ten-member Advisory Board of Trepça will deal. Ruecker considers the establishment of this board as very important, since this presents a step forward for solving many issues regarding Trepça.

“This is indeed very important, since this board will be the best place for discussing the protection and revitalization of Trepça and solving problems that have to do with claimants. We agreed on three issues: The protection, revitalization and preparation of Trepça for a transparent privatization, since the investments in the north and south can only come through privatization,” TVs and dailies quoted Ruecker as saying.

The Board considers that the appointment of an international administrator of Trepça, who would select the creditors’ claims and would report to the Special Chamber, is the best legal way for revitalizing and the possible privatization of Trepça.

Radio and Television of Kosovo(RTK) reported that according to reliable sources within the Advisory Board, Serbia will be treated as important factor, same as Kosovo Government, and will be a partner in solving all contests. But, the Kosovo PM explained this partnership in a different way.

“We have many creditor claims from the time when they managed Trepça. There are many creditors from Serbia, who say that they have invested in Trepça and they have submitted their claims to the Special Chamber of Supreme Court. In order to have time to review these claims, the UNMIK Chief declared a moratorium. We are discussing with Serbia, which is our partner for clarifying these debts. We had a meeting in Vienna about this and we will have more,” said Prime Minister Çeku.

Ruecker added that behind the moratorium should be an international administrator, whose task will be to present the plan for the revitalization of Trepça before stakeholders. According to the Advisory Board, Trepça’s revitalization requires around €120 million.

RTK quoted also the Head of Kosovo Unions, Bahri Shabani, as saying that the talks on creditor claims should not be a priority, but the priorities should be the activation of Trepça and the employment of people.

“I consider that this strategy deals more with preparing for Trepça’s privatization and the selling of assets. Also the request from the Serbian side is that the Serb Government should be involved, but I consider that this is not the right way and it is unacceptable,” said Shabani.

PTK and KEK had problems with creditors too, but for the functioning of these two POEs was no moratorium needed and neither was a legal protection through an international administrator. This shows that Trepça was not treated in the same way like other POEs and SOEs of Kosovo, RTK reports.

The Trepça Advisory Board comprises ten members. It includes representatives of the Government of Kosovo, UNMIK, and representatives of Serbs and Albanians from Mitrovica.

After the end of the war, the Special Chamber of the Supreme Court has received many claims regarding Trepça from Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and other countries.

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