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Vetëvendosje (Albanian: [ˌvɛtəvɛnˈdosjɛ], LV; English: Self-determination) is a progressive, social-democratic, Albanian nationalist political party in Kosovo[a] that opposes foreign involvement in the country's internal affairs, and campaigns for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity and for the sovereignty exercised by the people, as part of the right to self-determination. Vetevendosje is also the largest political party in Kosovo.
|Founded||12 June 2005|
|Preceded by||Kosova Action Network|
|Political position||Center-left to left-wing|
|International affiliation||Socialist International |
|Slogan||Me mëndje e zemër, deri në Vetëvendosje! - With heart and mind, up to Self-determination!|
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The movement widely bases its ideology on the works of Ukshin Hoti. The program of Vetëvendosje focuses on three main axes: developmental state, meritocracy, and welfare state. They are characterized by the big contrast with the mainstream political spectrum within Kosovo concerning two issues that characterize Kosovo after the war: the long process of negotiations with Serbia concerning the internal organization and socio-political aspects of Kosovo, without imposing any prior conditions to the Serbian side, which they consider "unfair and harmful", and the process of privatization of public companies which they describe as "a corruption model, contributing to increasing unemployment, ruining the economy, and halting economic development of the country".
Vetëvendosje was formed in 2004 as a citizen initiative called Kosova Action Network (KAN). It received its current name in 2005 after protests against the negotiations with Serbia for the independence of Kosovo, calling for the declaration of independence based on the right for Self-determination. Vetëvendosje entered the Parliament of Kosovo in 2011 after participating in elections for the first time. Their first electoral success was in 2013 when they won the elections in the capital, Pristina. Vetëvendosje became the biggest political party in Kosovo after the 2017 Kosovan Parliamentary Elecion, but remained in opposition. In the same year, Vetëvendosje won the elections in Pristina, Prizren and Kamenica, with the former two being the biggest cities in Kosovo. They additionally became part of the governing coalition in the municipality of Vushtrri, where they ran as a small partner in coalition with LDK. In 2018, Vetëvendosje split and the mayors of Pristina and Kamenica left Vetëvendosje and joined PSD. The Mayor of Mitrovica, Agim Bahtiri, joined Vetëvendosje in 2019, increasing the number of municipalities that they run to two. Vetëvendosje won the 2019 Kosovan parliamentary election, remaining the biggest political party in Kosovo. In February 2020 they signed a coalition agreement with LDK to form the new Government of Kosovo. The leader of Vetëvendosje, Albin Kurti, is a former Prime Minister of Kosovo
"VETËVENDOSJE!" was the main slogan during the protests that took place in 1968 throughout Kosovo, with the goal of advancing national rights of Albanians and enforcing the political status as an entity within Yugoslavia.
Vetëvendosje! (LV) was founded in 2005 as a consecutive of KAN a group promoting active citizenry and direct political participation of the masses.
One of the movement's political points is to hold a referendum on union with Albania.
On 10 February 2007 a demonstration organised by Vetëvendosje and attended by more than 60,000 people took place in the streets of Pristina. Riot police were deployed after the rioters allegedly planned to storm the government office. Following this deployment, after a few minutes Romanian UNMIK riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd who until then protested peacefully. The Romanian UNMIK police officers then fired directly at the face of one of the protesters, resulting in the immediate death of this unarmed civilian. Following the first casualty the situation went fully out of control and the police began firing rubber bullets at the protesters while always aiming at their heads, resulting in another casualty of a protester who was shot point-blank while he was hiding from the tear gas inside Hotel Iliria, countless other protesters were injured while one protester who was shot next to the heart survived after a long state of coma and still today lives with the projectile inside his chest. The end of the protest resulted in two deaths, seven serious injuries and 73 minor injuries. A prosecutor determined that the police, Romanians who are part of an international force deployed here, had acted criminally, but declined to file charges because it was unclear who had fired the fatal shots. Instead, Kurti got arrested for "disdain and contempt for all that represents the legitimate authority of Kosovo".
The movement campaigned through graffiti opposing the negotiations for the final status of Kosovo. The graffiti in Albanian is: Jo Negociata -- Vetëvendosje! (Albanian for "No negotiations - Self-determination!"). Among the targets for activities of Vetëvendosje activists are vehicles of UNMIK with UN signs, to which the activists add an F character at the beginning and a D character at the end resulting in FUND signs, which in Albanian means The End. The movement also opposes the decentralisation process which creates a de facto division of Kosovo along ethnic lines, separating Kosovo into ethnic Albanian and Serbian parts and as such resulting in ethnic discrimination of both Albanian and Serbian communities by creating ghettos based on ethnicity. The movement has also organised protests in front of the headquarters of the United Nations in both New York and in Kosovo during the visits of the heads of state of Serbia or negotiations' mediators.
Parliamentary elections of 2010Edit
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The decision to participate in the coming elections as a political entity led to another arrest on the leader and one of the founders of the Movement Albin Kurti by EULEX.
In December 2010 the movement participated for the first time in national elections and obtained 12.66% of the votes. According to international election monitoring reports[who?] these elections were the worst in Kosovo history. For Vetëvendosje!, the result of 12.66% constituted the percentage of votes it was able to protect, not the percentage which the movement actually won. Vetëvendosje! deposited more than 1,500 complaints. Elections were repeated in many Kosovar municipalities at least once (in the worst cases going up to a total of three rounds of voting in problematic towns like Skenderaj and Mitrovica). Although this result would place Vetëvendosje! as the third political subject of Kosovo, one day after the elections Vetëvendosje! presented findings of its observers who had witnessed voter manipulation and fraud in some constituencies.
LV! won 14 seats, 2 of them going for their ally movement Movement for Unification, (Albanian: Lëvizja per Bashkim, LB), with all 14 being part of LV! parliamentary group. LB assembly members left the LV! parliamentary group on 20 September 2011, due to divergences on funds distribution (The fund for supporting political subjects 2011), and acting as independent since then.
During the first seance of the new parliament all members including Albin Kurti took their oath while holding the red and black national Albanian flag in front of them, and have continuously introduced it inside the Assembly premises, while ignoring and contesting the symbols of Republic of Kosovo including the State Anthem.
Merger with the New Spirit PartyEdit
New Spirit Party (Albanian: Partia Fryma e Re) merged into Vetëvendosje! on 31 March 2011. Shpend Ahmeti was vice-chairman of Vetëvendosje! and Mayor of Prishtina as of December 2013. He left with 11 members of VETËVENDOSJE! and joined the PSD party in 2018.
Madeleine Albright controversyEdit
On December 10, 2012, US Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson accused LV! of having sent a threatening letter to former State Secretary Madeleine Albright. LV! officially replied four days later, stating that "they were amazed with the accusations, and Kurti never sent any letter to Mrs. Albright, but if someone had proof should make it available to the public". They explained that they had urged citizens of Kosovo to mail to companies which were racing for privatizing PTK (the postal and telecommunications authority of Kosovo owning "Vala" mobile operator as well) while explaining to them the harm that the privatization is causing the country's economy and the wrong practices applied during the process. Apparently, one of the runners was a consortium of Portugal Telecom with Albright Capital Management, which dropped off the race in January 2013.
"We did not threaten anyone and we definitely did not, as you claim, try to deter Ms. Albright from visiting Kosovo. Indeed, after this letter of September 1, Ms. Albright visited Kosovo in November, without the slightest opposition from VETËVENDOSJE! During her visit, she even met our deputies."
Merger with Socialist Party of KosovoEdit
The Socialist Party of Kosovo, led by Ilaz Kadolli, joined Vetëvendosje! on April 26, 2013. Kurti and Kadolli agreed that the merger will be in the interest of building a strong political and economical state. The party had no representatives in the Kosovo Parliament, but had several in local governments.
2013 protest controversyEdit
On June 27, 2013, LV! organized a protest against the latest agreement between Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaçi and Serbian prime minister Ivica Dačić during the latest round of political negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade in Brussels hosted by Catherine Ashton. Vetëvendosje! tried to block all entrances to the parliament building, in order to hinder the assembly members from entering, thus preventing the agreement for being ratified. The protest didn't succeed, and the agreement was voted from the majority of the assembly representatives. During the protest, US Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson resulted with an injury on her right arm while entering from a secondary entrance together with some assembly members. Although the video evidence showed no physical contact between protesters and US Ambassador, confirmed as well by LDK assemblyman Haki Demolli who entered the building together with the US Ambassador, the incident aggravated the already difficult relationship between the US State Department and VV!. The reaction was prompt, following the US Embassy official statement, VV! was criticized by Kosovo government instances, political factors, as well as public opinion. Even long-time supporter of VV!, former OSCE ambassador Willim Walker, described the action as a "big mistake". According to Zëri newspaper, the US Department of State called Kosovo's Ambassador in Washington, D.C., Akan Ismajli, requiring official explanations, though no comments came from official sources within Kosovo.
"As we have stressed with all leaders and particularly to Vetevendosje, while the United States respects citizens’ rights to free speech and expression, we deplore the use of violent tactics in obstructing the democratic process. Freedom of speech does not mean the right to restrict the freedom of movement of others. Vetevendosje’s continued reliance on violent tactics undermines Kosovo’s reputation as an emerging democracy."
The reaction from LV! was vague, with soon-to-be-gone Alma Lama being the first one to personally apologize to the US Ambassador. On 1 July, Glauk Konjufca apologized to all foreign representatives visiting the Kosovo parliament on that day: "Specifically, there is the case of US Ambassador, but even other foreign representatives to whom we apologize in case they have experienced any unpleasant situation. But, analyzing the harm that the agreement causes, it sounded reasonable to us to act the way we did though I don't deny having possibly made some mistakes." The overall positioning of LV! can be described with Shpend Ahmeti's statement: "the protest was not violent, we didn't want anyone to get hurt, we are sorry if someone actually did, but the negative effects of the agreement overrun any side effects of the protest", adding "the government is trying to show us as anti-american, which we are not"'
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker, during his visit to Pristina a few days later, was harsh and very direct with LV!, calling them "clowns who want to be violent". LV! responded by calling Reekers' accusations as "unfair and non-democratic" and issuing a letter of complaint to the US Department of State.
Merger with People's Movement of KosovoEdit
People's Movement of Kosovo (Lëvizja Popullore e Kosovës), with its structures in Kosovo and abroad joined Vetëvendosje! on July 23, 2013, as stated from both leaders Kurti and Zekaj during the press conference in Vetevendosje! headquarters in Prishtina: "...with the only aim to change social flow on the benefit of Albanian people". Zekaj stated that PMK has a wide membership within Kosovo and abroad, though he didn't provide numbers.
PMK started in 1982 as a Marxist nationalist grouping of Albanian diaspora organizations in Western Europe and is considered the origin of KLA. Most of its leadership moved on with the newly created party Democratic Party of Kosovo of Hashim Thaçi after the war.
Local elections of 2013Edit
LV! participated in November 2013 election in every single municipality for the first time. Beside Shpend Ahmeti's victory in the capital Pristina over LDK leader and former mayor Isa Mustafa, LV! managed to place assembly members in most of the municipalities, though not reaching the second round anywhere else. The movement could not place assembly members in the following municipalities: Dragash, Leposavić, Zvečan, Zubin Potok, Novo Brdo, Gracanica, Mamusha, Partesh, Klokot, and Northern Mitrovica.
In overall, the movement came fourth with a decrease in votes from the last parliamentary elections. A session of the movement's General Council was called on December 15, 2013 which between other things discussed these results as well as necessary action in response to them. According to Ahmeti's words during an interview with Top-Channel, there were also changes in the movement statute which came out of the General Council meeting.
Parliamentary elections of 2014Edit
In the 2014 elections Vetëvendosje received 13,59% (99.397 votes) remaining the third strongest political force in the Kosovo Assembly with 16 seats. After the publication of the results Vetëvendosje along with the coalition Democratic League-Alliance for the Future of Kosovo-NISMA have tried to thwart Thaci from a new term.
In March 2016, activists of Vetëvendosje overturned two trucks carrying Serbian goods in a protest against the Serbian decision not to accept Kosovo Albanian schoolbooks in the Albanian-inhabited Preševo Valley in southern Serbia.
Parliamentary elections of 2017Edit
In the 2017 elections Vetëvendosje received 27.49% (200,132 votes) making it the biggest political party in the Kosovo Assembly with 32 seats. However in 2018, 12 MP's left Vetëvendosje and created the Group of the Independent Deputies, and MP Donika Kadaj-Bujupi rejoined the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo. This split decreased the Vetevendosje parliamentary group to 19 seats.
Local elections of 2017Edit
In the 2017 local elections Vetëvendosje won in won three municipalities. Vetëvendosje won a second term in Prishtina with Shpend Ahmeti and also won Dardana with Qendron Kastrati. Vetëvendosje also ended the 18 year rule of the Democratic Party of Kosovo in Prizren, a city which they considered their 'Jerusalem', with Mytaher Haskuka also narrowly winning in the second round. Shpend Ahmeti and Qendron Kastrati though left Vetëvendosje in 2018, leaving them in control of only one municipality.
Parliamentary elections of 2019Edit
In the early elections of 2019 which were called due to the resignation of former Prime-Minister Ramush Haradinaj, Vetëvendosje received 26.27% (221,001 votes), remaining the biggest political party in the Kosovo Assembly with 29 seats. Their total number of votes increased by over 10% relative to the previous election, but due to a higher participation rate they received a smaller share of seats in the assembly. Vetëvendosje formed a coalition with LDK in February of 2020 after months of negotiations and it is currently the main party in the governing coalition in Kosovo. The leader of Vetëvendosje, Albin Kurti is the current Prime Minister of Kosovo.
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- Schwandner-Sievers, Stephanie (2013). Democratisation through Defiance? The Albanian Civil Organisation 'Self-Determination' and International Supervision in Kosovo. Civil Society and Transitions in the Western Balkans. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 95–116.
Notes and referencesEdit
- Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognized as an independent state by 97 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 112 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.
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Responding to the citizen activism gap created by the passive citizenry and donor-oriented civil society groups, and rejecting the international governance and its local counterparts, a new social movement emerged in Kosovo in 2004, which put in forefront the necessity for ethical and accountable politics, local autonomy from the external rule, and nationalist discourse for popular self-determination as manifestation of direct democracy. Since 2004 Lëvizja Vetëvendosje acted as a social movement and led protests against UN administration in Kosovo, final status negotiations, the independence settlement plan, decentralization process, the post-independence political dialogue with Serbia, and the privatization of socially owned enterprises in Kosovo.
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The study of statutes indicates that the one of LVV is the most advanced if we consider the restriction of mandates, and the application of direct democracy in making important decisions.
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Lëvizja Vetëvendosje (the Movement for Self-Determination) emphasised the need for ethical and accountable politics and local autonomy from external rule, and it incorporated a nationalist discourse for popular self-determination as a manifestation of direct democracy
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vetëvendosje!.|
- Official website
- Political Manifesto 16 pages wikisource:Page:Vetëvendosje! political programme in english.pdf/1
- Political Manifesto (Albanian) 49 pages 
- "The Vetëvendosje Movement in Kosovo: an Increasing Focus on Nationalism". Balkan Analysis.