Serbian officials and entrepreneurs have been warning that the north of Kosovo is a step away from „a new humanitarian catastrophe“. Kosovo officials and the Pristina media claim that it is an attempt to stage a humanitarian catastrophe. Both official sides agree on one thing – „We will not allow it.“ But what do those who buy or sell products every day have to say? Did entrepreneurs from the north of Kosovo send a memo to small store owners not to purchase goods from the south because of „pressures of arrest, confiscation of trucks and goods“?
Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj accused a group of Serbian entrepreneurs from the north and the former Civil Protection last week of „attempting to stage a humanitarian catastrophe by emptying the racks so that basic products from Serbia cannot be found“ – all in coordination with official Belgrade. The leader of the Association of Entrepreneurs from the North, Rados Petrovic, who was mentioned by Haradinaj by name, refuted the accusation, reminding that Haradinaj’s decision to introduce a 100% tax on goods from Serbia, as well as the increased activity of tax authorities of Kosovo and the Kosovo Police ensuring that these goods cannot found in the north, could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.
„No thank you, I don’t want to talk about it“; „Some other time, I’m in a hurry“; „I don’t want to answer“ – this is how a majority of the North Mitrovica respondents replied yesterday to the question of whether they heard that there was a possibility that a new humanitarian crisis could occur in the north of Kosovo?
The majority of the small traders from North Mitrovica gave the same answers when asked how they supply their stores and whether the racks in their stores are empty.
KoSSev visited shops and pharmacies in North Mitrovica yesterday – half-empty racks in most shops. The situation is better in certain shops – where the traders told us they are selling the last of their stock. There is a shortage of milk products due to the suspension of the distribution of these products from Raska. There is also a shortage of other basic foods, such as meat, meat products, so, sugar, oil, flour.
“THIS IS THE FINAL FRONTIER, WE RETREAT NO FURTHER”: Entrepreneurs sent a memo not to procure goods from the south?
Several sources, who asked to remain anonymous, told KoSSev that small traders were given a memo – allegedly signed by entrepreneurs – with the following content:
„Dear, given that the new situation in the north of Kosovo and Metohija brings a large number of difficulties primarily to entrepreneurs, who are exposed to daily pressures, arrests, confiscation of trucks and goods, we urge you to unity and harmony. In protest of the imposed taxes and the impossibility of importing Serbian goods on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, we invite all entrepreneurs not to procure goods from the southern part of the province (from Albanians) at all costs, thus showing the harmony and unity – with the slogan THIS IS THE FINAL FRONTIER, WE RETREAT NO FURTHER. Respectfully, the Association of Entrepreneurs of Kosovo and Metohija.”
The president of the Association of Entrepreneurs from the north of Kosovo, Rados Petrovic denied that anything was said to the traders.
The traders we talked to yesterday gave diametrically opposed answers. Some argued that due to the alleged internal agreement between entrepreneurs from the north, small traders have agreed „not to get goods supplies from the south“ due to the imposed taxes, and that such a decision „has nothing to do with politics“. While several other traders have confirmed that they received a memo not to procure goods from the south.
Petrovic: „They imposed a 100% tax on us, why should we buy their goods?!“
The president of the Association of Entrepreneurs from the north of Kosovo, Rados Petrovic denied allegations that entrepreneurs and small traders from the north received instructions not to procure goods from the south.
„Nobody ordered anything to anyone. No one told the traders anything or ordered them anything; they have their own private stores and can decide on their own. No one can order them or tell them anything. Everybody manages however they can,“ he underlined, adding:
„They imposed a 100% tax on us, why should we buy their goods?!“
He described the current situation in the north of Kosovo as “terrible.”
„People sell the goods they have, and what will we do afterward…“ – he added.
Asked about the official position of the association of entrepreneurs and whether they had met with some of the Serb or Kosovo representatives, Petrovic said that they did not meet with anyone and that they still do not have an official position, nor have they decided on any actions.
„We met with the entrepreneurs from the north. People call, they complain that they have no goods and that they will not be able to continue working,“ he said.
„We are waiting. Everyone knows this is the situation. I don’t think there is a need to inform anyone,“ Petrovic added.
Foto: KoSSevThe north is supplied with goods from Serbia
The north of Kosovo is inhabited by a majority Serbian population, which is supplied almost exclusively by products from Serbia. There are no shopping centers and goods are bought in stores, kiosks and smaller shops. The nearest shopping centers and shopping malls are located in the southern part of the city and along the line separating the city into north and south parts – where residents in the north often shop. Serbian products dominated in these stores also until the introduction of the taxes.
The racks in the north are stocked and the only thing missing for months were the daily and weekly press from Belgrade – despite the fact that the 100% taxes were introduced more than half a year ago and despite the daily protests held in November and December and warnings by Srpska Lista about the upcoming humanitarian disaster in the north.
The 100% tax increase on products from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina was introduced in November of last year, after Serbia blocked Kosovo’s membership in joining INTERPOL.
In the meantime, several articles were published on who profited from the introduction of these taxes, some claiming it increased Ramush Haradinaj’s political popularity, while others stated that it provided new opportunities for smugglers. The Belgrade-based daily Danas recently wrote that the EU also benefitted from this, as it exported goods of the total value of €516.8 million since the introduction of the taxes – €120 million more than in the same period last year.
And while it is being speculated on who is „the winner“, there is no doubt on who is the loser – the citizens themselves.
Preuzimanje i objavljivanje tekstova sa portala KoSSev nije dozvoljeno bez navođenja izvora. Hvala na poštovanju etike novinarske profesije.