N. Mitrovica citizens’ differing views of the energy agreement: They say they’ll pay energy bills, but also call for new electricity meters

Belgrade and Pristina representatives signed an agreement earlier this week on the implementation of a „roadmap“ aimed at finally resolving energy issues in northern Kosovo. While the opposition in both Belgrade and Pristina interprets the agreement as a betrayal, the governments in both cities present the agreement as their own victory.

What do the citizens of North Mitrovica think of this energy agreement? Some say the agreement will be beneficial for the residents of the north of Kosovo, while others state that they are not sure, and some citizens see it as harmful and another step toward integration into the Kosovo system. On the other hand, the majority of polled citizens complain about the lack of transparency and stress that many things remain unknown.

One of KoSSev’s interlocutors says that he „does not know exactly“ what was agreed in Brussels, nevertheless expressing hope that it will be beneficial for all citizens – not just some individuals.

„Everything that has been agreed should be transparent and the money should go where it is supposed to go.“

Another interlocutor underlined that he is unaware of „all the details“, specifying that he heard that „our people – Elektrokosmet, will charge for electricity“.

„We’ll see whether the electricity meters will be changed, whether there will be a complete transformation of the system,“ he said.

On the other hand, some citizens interpret the latest agreement as another step towards full integration into the Kosovo system.

„As I see the agreement, a company whose majority owner is EPS (Serbian state power utility), which is registered in the Kosovo system, will be responsible for charging for electricity here in the north of Kosovo. So, this is just another way we are entering the Kosovo system,“ says a citizen of North Mitrovica.

One of KoSSev’s interlocutors pointed out that the agreement lacks a detailed explanation, and that the whole process was fast-tracked.

Some North Mitrovica locals describe the agreement as „fine“, without providing an explanation for such a stance.

„I don’t think it will be beneficial for the citizens, but I hope it will be“

We polled the citizens of North Mitrovica on whether they believe that the energy agreements reached earlier, along with the „roadmap“ that was agreed this week, are in the interest of the citizens in the north.

„I didn’t see any specific information from the parties involved in those negotiations, they just said that they agreed on something. I don’t think it will be beneficial for the citizens, but I hope it will be,“ one citizen said.

Another North Mitrovica resident underlined that the agreement implementation would be followed by “the filling of coffers.” He, however, failed to specify whose coffers he was talking about.

As a positive side of the agreement, he cites:

„Roads, schools will be built, jobs will be created based on that, but only if it is used for its primary purposes, and not for some other channels, and only if it benefits the common people.“

One of the interlocutors says that the agreements should benefit the citizens, adding it remains to be seen whether that will be the case.

However, one of her fellow citizens estimates that every agreement reached in Brussels so far has been to the detriment of Serbs and that the same goes for this energy agreement.

„I am also afraid that this agreement will harm the Serbian side. Because it was drafted hastily, without any media explanations, I am afraid that it is not very favorable for Serbs. Individuals will be fine,“ she said.

Citizens say they’ll pay energy bills, but also call for a renewal of the energy system and new electricity meters

All of the polled citizens declared that they will pay energy bills – if the billing starts. On the other hand, some express fear that certain individuals would „get rich off the citizens’ backs“.

„I am absolutely ready to pay for electricity… I just would not like for individuals, as it may be the case with some other things, to benefit from the backs of the people,“ one of KoSSev’s interlocutors said.

One interlocutor reveals that he also believes electricity should be billed, but also say that a social program should be adopted.

„I know that Petkovic said that they (Pristina) cannot touch our part, that our people will charge electricity. I would just like it to be true and for bills not to reach 10,000 or 20,000 dinars, as it used to be, and that we know when electricity is cheap and when it’s expensive,“ he said.

He added that the old debt should be canceled.

„Otherwise, people will start putting their apartments and houses on sale and get out of here. It should be regulated, and we should start from the beginning. This should be a normal thing,“ he said.

Some citizens argued that new electricity meters should be installed.

„I don’t see a problem in that, as long as everything is above board. We should get new electricity meters… electricity should be calculated properly, instead of large consumers getting smaller bills just because they can“ – reads one of the answers.

Both parties interpret the results of the agreement in a way that suits them

After a „roadmap“ on the implementation of energy agreements was signed in Brussels this week, the authorities in both Belgrade and Pristina presented the document as their victory. Pristina spoke about the agreement in the context of sovereignty – that is, that electricity billing will begin in the North, while Belgrade claimed that the north of Kosovo gained energy supply independence with this agreement.

The opinions of North Mitrovica locals on the energy agreement are divided, while some say that the north gained independence, others claim that Pristina is slowly taking control over the north, whereas some allege that both sides are „being manipulative“.

„I don’t think it’s really one or the other, because KEDS – a Turkish company responsible for the distribution of electricity, but simply both sides interpret the results of this agreement in a way that suits them,“ reads one of the answers.

Another interlocutor revealed that he does not think the north gained independence.

„I think that with these Belgrade and Pristina agreements wool is being pulled over people’s eyes so that it seems as if something is being done. I don’t understand why it took 22 years to talk about it. It is a process that could have been resolved much earlier and more favorably, so I don’t see it as that important, it’s only going to be to the detriment of the citizens,“ he said.

Another of KoSSev’s interlocutor believes that the establishment of a company whose majority owner is EPS, which is registered in the Kosovo system, is actually just a cover-up of reality – „that there is a border“.

„It is only a matter of time before the energy system will be under the jurisdiction of Pristina, as well as everything else. That’s what happened with MTS. Daughter (cf. company), mother, stepmother, and stepchildren are just verbal cover-ups of what it actually is. The fact is that we have a border, and since we have a border, it means that this is another state,“ reads one of the answers.



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