In early 2008, a group of enthusiastic youngsters took courage to create an independent civic initiative, which would aim at strengthening citizens’ influence in decision-making, and has been named ‘FOL’08’. This civic initiative has, during the first year of Kosovo state-building, been active in targeting various issues and institutions responsible in order to serve as a critical voice of good governance, based on democratic principles, transparent and accountable institutions, as well as law-making and its implementation and with participation of citizens, thereby calling for critical and constructive opposition against non-functional policies, and abuse of political power. Over more than a year of its existence, FOL’08 has played the role for which it has been created, raising the voice against the violation of citizens’ interests, diverting of the state-building process and development of democracy.
Reaction has been the fundamental device that has enabled FOL ’08 to perform. Being a new civic initiative, FOL’08 has proven a high overall dissatisfaction with developments in society, and tried to express it through democratic means, namely performance, often combined with artistic elements. The largest civic action was organized by FOL’08 in January 2009, in which together with several other civil society organisations (Syri i Vizionit, INPO, KCIC and CBM) has, over a week, collected 10,529 signatures of citizens against increasing the electricity tariff.
The Ad-hoc Coalition of Civil Society Organisations against Rising Electricity Tariff has, on 26 January 2009, officially begun with signing the petition against rising electricity tariff. The Civic Action FOL ’08 has been in contact with all partner organizations, which have confirmed that the signing of petition has started in six target centres: Prishtina, Prizren, Peja, Gjilan, Ferizaj and Mitrovica.
Following signing of 10529 citizens’ signatures, the Civic Action FOL’08 has met the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Gender Equality, Missing Persons and Petitions. Although the petition had to make its way into the agenda of a session of the Assembly of Kosovo, which was an obligation deriving from the Constitution of Kosovo, this did not happen.
Following this undemocratic blockage of citizens’ initiative by the highest national democratically-elected body, FOL `08 has addressed the European Commission and the Council of Europe with a letter informing them on such a bridge of democratic principles and human rights. FOL ’08 has received a response to this letter in early July 2009 from the European Commission, which has vowed that the concerns raised by FOL ’08 will be reflected in preparing the 2009 Progress Report on Kosovo.
In September 2008, FOL `08 has revealed the Top List of closed institutions, namely five of the most non-transparent institutions, which were listed in a billboard.
Similarly FOL ’08 reacted to the initiative of the Kosovo Assembly Presidency to equip its 120 MPs with personal vehicle. Furthermore, supported by some partner NGOs from several municipalities in Kosovo, FOL ’08 has, in October 2008, held the so-called “Fair of Problems” in downtown Prishtina, thereby identifying 12 day-to-day problems faced by Kosovo citizens: “corruption, poor education, international presence and Mitrovica, lack of drinking water, lack of electricity, health problems, abuse of employees’ rights, human trafficking, drugs and illegal weapons”.
In December 2008, FOL’08 activists, supported by the peers Initiative for Progress (INPO), has performed throwing of 120 chickens in the yard of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, which coincides with the number of MPs – 120. With this performance / protest, FOL ’08 has expressed the citizens’ dissatisfaction with the work of the Assembly of Kosovo, which institution was granted the ‘Minus of the Year’ for 2008, by FOL ’08. Through this performance, FOL ’08 has targeted Kosovan MPs for lack courage to addressing many fundamental issues, which this institution has failed to discuss on. In May 2009, the Civic Action FOL’08 and “My Initiative” held a performance, by which they have expressed concern over the scandalous case of theft of witness evidence in the Kosovo Police facilities.
In its activity over a year, FOL ‘08 has shown as hemstitch, responding in many cases, to violation of citizens’ interests. In this context, activists of this initiative have objected to violations of the Constitution of Kosovo by top political leaders of the state: “The head of state exercising two positions violates Articles 84 and 88 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo”.
At the end of 2008, the Civic Action FOL ’08, together with the Foreign Policy Club (FPC), Forum of Civic Initiatives (FIQ), Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI), and organizations Initiative for Progress (INPO), Youth Initiative Syri i Vizionit, have demonstrated in support of the Constitution and against the so-called ‘6-Points Plan’, proposed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon.
In a press conference of December 2008, the Civic Action FOL’08, has reacted to the non-implementation of the Law Against Corruption, respectively its Section 4, by Kosovan institutions.
In March 2009, FOL ’08 has provided some documentary evidence which present reasonable doubt for violation of the Recruitment and Selection Policy by the Post and Telecommunications of Kosovo (PTK) public-owned enterprise. The PTK Recruitment Policy, Article 1.4, states that all job vacancies, in rank 13-15, must be announced to foreign competition. Research done by FOL ’08 has found that competition is not appropriate for positions since the announcement has been published only in Prishtina daily newspapers and the PTK website. Facing unwillingness of PTK officials to provide answers to these questions, FOL ’08 has requested investigation by responsible institutions, thereby submitting the documentary evidence to the Kosovo Anti-Corruption Agency.
The same has been the case with selection of candidates for Judges of the Constitutional Court. Through its reaction, FOL ’08 warned for implication in the process of candidates with lack of any professional experience and of clean records, by also sending a letter to the International Civilian Representative (ICR), Mr Pieter Feith, thereby expressing concerns over the process of recruiting Judges for the Constitutional Court and overall establishment of the highest institution of justice in Kosovo. In June, FOL ’08 has addressed the Parliament and Government of the Republic of Kosovo an open letter against threats to freedom of expression and press in Kosovo.