Bislimi warns of measures so “citizens are not harmed” by dinar ban

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The Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo, Besnik Bislimi, stated that the Government of Kosovo will soon present ten measures regarding ways citizens will not be harmed during the “transitional phase” of implementing the decision that prohibits the use of the Serbian dinar for payments. However, Bislimi stated that regarding the issue of the dinar, he will not participate in a meeting called in Brussels by the European Union, which mediates the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

Since February 1, Kosovo has implemented the regulation of the Central Bank of Kosovo (CBK) which stipulates the euro as the sole currency in Kosovo for cash payments.

During a roundtable discussion on “Economic Development for Serbs in Kosovo”, Bislimi stated that they are aware of the difficulties the regulation of the CBK may create for Serbs in Kosovo.

“We are aware that in the short term, the implementation of this measure may create difficulties for a part of the citizens who have received and continue to receive financial support from the Republic of Serbia. The Central Bank [of Kosovo] has issued a series of activities and measures through which it aims to mitigate this impact,” Bislimi said.

“But in the coming days, the Government of Kosovo will also come up with a list of ten measures through which we will show how we will ensure that citizens are not harmed in this transitional phase, but a phase that would guarantee the subsequent full implementation of the payment system,” he added.

Bislimi also mentioned that the concern of Serbian community members regarding the ban on the dinar should be “addressed”, but not “dramatized”.

“We need to agree on a mechanism to ensure that these funds [in dinars from Serbia’s budget] reach Kosovo, how the dinar can be converted into euros, and how the dinar can be removed from circulation. NLB Bank has branches in both Kosovo and Serbia. It means there are possibilities, but there must be willingness,” said Bislimi.

Bislimi stated that the Central Bank of Kosovo has addressed the National Bank of Serbia to find a solution, but so far, they have not received any response from this institution.

Kosovo insists on direct communication with competent institutions in Serbia to find a solution for the financial benefits that Serbs in Kosovo receive from Serbia’s budget. However, Belgrade officially refuses this and demands that the issue be raised within the framework of the dialogue for the normalization of relations mediated by the European Union.

After the meeting, Bislimi, who is Kosovo’s chief negotiator in the dialogue with Serbia, said he had declined an invitation from Brussels to discuss the issue of the ban on the Serbian dinar in Kosovo.

Bislimi said that the European mediator, Miroslav Lajčák, had sent him an invitation for a meeting next week regarding the issue of currency transfers from Serbia to Kosovo, as Kosovo has been implementing a regulation since February 1, which stipulates the euro as the sole currency for payments.

“But this is not a meeting where the chief negotiator should go because the issue of the dinar is not part of the dialogue. I go when discussing the Basic Agreement. So, we’ll see who will go to discuss the dinar, but it’s not from the chief negotiator’s team,” said Bislimi.

Bislimi said Lajčák, by sending this invitation, has violated the “principles he himself has set”, as according to Bislimi, “it is the first time he has scheduled a meeting without prior agreement with the parties and has tried to set the agenda despite the principles he set in 2021, where no topic is put on the agenda without the parties’ agreement”.

Earlier, the European Union has requested that the issue of the Central Bank of Kosovo’s regulation on cash operations be discussed within the framework of the normalization dialogue. Similarly, Serbian banking authorities have requested that this issue be included in the dialogue in Brussels.

The Serbian state allocates millions of euros for Serbs in Kosovo as it pays them – through a parallel system – salaries, pensions, and additional aid.

On February 20, in certain places in Graçanica, Serbian citizens were unable to receive social assistance and child benefits at the post office, which operates under the Serbian system, because the employees told them they did not have the money to pay these benefits.

Also, on February 21, a group of teachers in North Mitrovica protested in front of the Serbian Post Savings Bank because they did not receive their salaries.

Belgrade has strongly criticized the CBK regulation, interpreting it as the Government of Kosovo’s intention to expel Serbs.

The CBK regulation has also been criticized by the international factor, which has said that the decision was made without prior consultations and without taking into account the impact on the Serbian community.

The United States has requested Kosovo to postpone the implementation of the decision, arguing that the failure to do so has affected the quality of relations between Washington and Pristina.

The CBK has stated that the decision will be implemented through a transitional phase of no more than three months.

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