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KOSOVO

1


Content

Kosovo: World’s Newest Country

INTRODUCTION

• Institutions of the Republic of Kosovo 4

• President Welcomes Investors to High Potential

Economy 5

• A Melting Pot of Cultures: Kosovo’s Rich Past

Points to a Bright Future 6

Kosovo’s Fact File 8

BUSINESS & INVESTMENTS OPPORTUNITIES

• Increasing Competition and Efficiency, the

Privatisation Process Is Going into Overdrive 12

• Forward-Thinking Chamber Promoting Kosovo

as Gateway 14

• Central Bank of the Republic of Kosovo 16

• On the Road to the Union, Kosovo has Already

Made Big Strides 18

• Improved Stability and Measured Growth Point

to a Maturing Economy 20

FINANCE & BANKING

• Ministry of Economy and Finance 24

• NLB Prishtina 26

• Raiffeissen Bank 27

• ProCredit Bank Kosovo 28

• Dukagjini Group 29

TRADE & INDUSTRY

• Ministry of Trade and Industry 31

• Sharrcem 33

• Xella Group 34

TRANSPORT & COMMUNICATIONS

• Ministry of Transport and Telecommunication 36

• All Roads Lead to Kosovo: the Government’s

Main Target Is Upgrading the Road and Rail

Infrastructure 38

Kosovo Railways 40

• Kosova Airlines 41

• Calling the Shots: Competition Is Bringing

Increased Quality to the Sector 42

• IPKO 44

AGRICULTURE & FOOD INDUSTRY

• Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural

Development 46

• Lay of the Land: The Government Is

Overseeing the Commercialisation of the

Country’s Farms 48

• Peja Brewery 49

• Meridian Corporation 50

ENERGY & MINING

• Ministry of Energy and Mining 52

• A New Power Plant and Untapped Coal

Reserves Are Set to Electrify the Industry 55

• Mine Games: A Growth in Exploration and

Mining Licenses Should Usher in Explosive

Growth 56

• Lydian International 59

ENVIRONMENT & SPATIAL PLANNING

• Regional Water Company-Prishtina 61

• Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning 62

• Infrastructure and Housing Requirements

Are Driving the Sector Forward 64

• Dukagjini Group 66

TOURISM

The Industry Has Several Strings to Its Bow

Pointing the Way to an Effervescent Future 68

• Eurokoha Reisen 70

Regional Manager:

Tudor Stamatian

Country Director:

Rutger de Groot

Editorial:

Patrick Wrigley

Production Coordinator:

Katrien Delamotte

Design:

Martine Vandervoort, Carine

Thaens, Johny Verstegen,

Walter Vranken, Dirk Van Bun

The European Times

90 Vasall Road, London SW9 6JA

United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)208 371 2356

Fax: +44 (0)208 371 2410

info@european-times.com

www.european-times.com

The European Times is a trading name of United International

Press Ltd

This guide is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This

publication, or any part thereof, may not be reproduced,

stored electronically or transmitted in any form, without the

prior written permission of European Times.

Every effort has been made to ensure information

contained in this publication is correct and up-to-date.

The authors and publisher accept no responsibility

for any errors it may contain, or for any loss, financial

or otherwise, sustained by any person using this

publication.

3


KOSOVO

Introduction

Institutions of the Republic of Kosovo

Office of the President

Tel.: +381 38 213 222/333

Fax: +381 38 211 651

www.president-ksgov.net

Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo

Office for Media and Publications

Tel.: +381 38 211 186/189/949

Fax: +381 38 211 188

www.kuvendikosoves.org

Office of the Prime Minister

Fax: +381 38 211 202

info_pmo@ks-gov.net

www.ks-gov.net/pm

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

Tel.: +381 38 542 715

Fax: +381 38 542 757

www.masht-gov.net

Ministry of Justice

www.md-ks.org

Ministry of Energy and Mining

Tel.: +381 38 200 213 05

mem.informimi@gmail.com

www.ks-gov.net/mem

Ministry of Finance and Economy

Tel.: +381 38 200 34 101

Fax: +381 38 213 113

abeiqi@mfe-ks.org

www.mfe-ks.org

Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning

Tel.: +381 38 517 800

Fax: +381 38 517 845

webmaster.mmph@ks-gov.net

www.ks-gov.net/mmph

Ministry of Local Government Administration

Tel: +381 38 544 377

www.ks-gov.net/map

Ministry of Internal Affairs

Tel.: +381 38 213 307

merita.vidishiqi@ks-gov.net

www.mpb-ks.org

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Tel: +381 38 213 963

Fax: +381 38 213 985

mfa@ks-gov.net

www.ks-gov.net/mpj

Ministry of Health

Tel.: +381 38 211 192

www.mshgov-ks.org

Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare

Tel.: +381 38 213 814

Fax: +381 38 213 022

info_mpms@yahoo.com

www.mpms-ks.org

Ministry of Community and Return

Tel.: +381 38 212 754

Tel./Fax: +381 38 212 755

sasa.rasic@ks-gov.net

www.ks-gov.net/mkk

Ministry of Public Services

Tel.: +381 38 200 30 020/942/660

Info-mshp@ks-gov.net

www.ks-gov.net/mshp

Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports

Tel.: +381 38 211 064, +381 38 211 557

Fax: +381 38 211 440

info@mkrs-ks.org

www.mkrs-ks.org

Ministry of Transport and Telecommunication

info.mtpt@ks-gov.net

www.mtpt.org

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural

Development

Tel.: +381 38 211 375

Fax: +381 38 212 598

www.mbpzhr-ks.org

Ministry of Trade and Industry

Tel.: +381 38 200 36010

Fax: +381 38 212 807

www.mti-ks.org

4


KOSOVO

Introduction

President Welcomes Investors to

High Potential Economy

Fatmir Sejdiu, President of Kosovo, says that the

country’s declaration of independence in February 2008

is “the beginning of a new chapter for Kosovo, and a

reassuring guarantee of a prosperous future.” Around

45 (1)

countries have already recognised Kosovo as an

independent nation, and the country is swiftly moving

away from its war torn past to become a productive

contributor to the European and global economy.

The President welcomes foreign investors, and

points out that Kosovo has focused on providing

stability and security for foreign investment through

implementing European and international laws and

regulations. Kosovo is particularly well placed to

attract European investment. “Almost three-quarters

of all the countries that have recognised Kosovo are

from the European Union, including seven of the

world’s biggest countries. As of today, over 60% of the

nations that lead the global economy have recognised

Kosovo as well as around 80% of the members of the

United Nations. This demonstrates the world’s faith

in Kosovo’s future,” he says.

Energy sector offers strong potential

As it rebuilds its economy, Kosovo offers significant

growth potential, particularly in the energy sector,

according to the President. He adds that the

government has proven its commitment to transparency

and that it has targeted energy, agriculture,

industry, education, health and security as priorities

for development.

The ongoing privatisation campaign is creating new

opportunities for investment, and substantial financial

assistance totalling some €1.2 billion (pledged at

July’s Donor’s Conference) has provided a strong

foundation for future growth. The EU’s Community

Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and

Stabilisation (CARDS) programme, for example,

provided over €1 billion in aid to Kosovo between 1999

Fatmir Sejdiu, President of Kosovo

© Bashkim Hasani

and 2005 alone, and is continuing to support projects

that offer outstanding investment potential. “We are

committed to an open market with equal opportunities

for foreign investors. We want high quality companies

to succeed here, which will make others confident to

come,” President Fatmir Sejdiu says.

As for the future, Kosovo will move beyond reconstruction

to be more creative in developing its economy,

the President says, noting that the government still

needs to come to a decision about the possible privatisation

of the Trepca mines. Boosting GDP from the

current 4% on average and reducing unemployment

and corruption are key challenges for Kosovo today.

There will be zero tolerance of corruption,” the

President vows. He concludes, “Kosovo aims to become

fully integrated with Europe, it has excellent human

resources, and it offers great growth potential.”

(1)

The number has reached 51 as of today

5


KOSOVO

Introduction

Kosovo’s Fact File

Diversity and Ambition: The Twin Pillars of

Kosovo’s Appeal

Kosovo has hit the international headlines in recent

months as the country has shed the skin of its troubled

past and declared a new beginning with independence.

However, despite wide press coverage, most international

readers know very little about this diverse and

ambitious country nestled in the south western corner

of the Balkans. With a rich cultural legacy, enchanting

natural beauty, and abundant natural and human

resources, it is unlikely that Kosovo will remain a secret

to Europe and the wider world for too much longer.

Population

Perhaps what is best about Prishtina, and indeed

the country as a whole, is the young, fun-loving

and ambitious people. Kosovo has a population of

approximately 2.2 million with 42% of them living

in the country’s cities and towns. However, what

makes Kosovo so appealing is that the country has

the youngest population in Europe with 70% of

the population under the age of 35. This gives an

impressive sense of urgency, ambition and positivity to

Kosovar encounters. Ninety per cent of the population

is Albanian, 5% is Serb, 2% is Muslim Slav (Bosniaks

and Goranis) while the remainder is Roma and Turks.

Languages

This diversity of origin brings a multi-lingual

environment to Kosovo with a number of languages

overheard on the nation’s streets. The most prominent

languages are Albanian and Serbian; however,

Turkish and a number of other Balkan languages can

be heard. Moreover, with such an exposure to donor

organisations, multinationals and NGOs, English has

almost become a semi-official language. It certainly

has become the preferred language of business in the

country and in the urban areas, at the very least, it is

easily understood.

Geography

The land of Kosovo, which reclines upon almost

11,000 sq km, lies in a horse shoe shaped bowl, with

mountains enclosing the country in the north, west

and south. The most impressive of these are the

somnolent Sharr in the South and the famous and

rugged ‘Accursed Mountains’ in the west forming

a border with both Albania and Montenegro.

Central Kosovo lies on a low flood plain stretching

out unbounded and allowing unhindered views of

mountain ranges in three directions. Fifty three per

cent of the country is fertile agricultural land while

39% is forest which plays a vital role in Kosovo’s

burgeoning wood processing industry.

The most prominent cities in terms of size, strategic

importance, economic clout and historical resonance

form a skewed diamond with Mitrovica in the north,

Prizren in the south, Peja in the west and Prishtina,

the capital, in the east. Prishtina has truly grown into

its own skin emerging as a modern, vibrant capital

city which manages to retain a distinct local flavour.

Indeed, the old and the modern, the foreign and the

local all jostle for attention in an easy unaffected way.

6


The EU and the Flag

Kosovo’s commitment to a future in the EU was writ large on the country’s new flag. Although there was some

debate, and even a design competition, over the future look of the newly independent country’s flag, a decisive

body of opinion fell behind six yellow stars on a blue background embossed by the outline of the country stencilled

below. The international design competition organised by the UN backed provisional government received just

under 1,000 entries but the blue flag with yellow stars won out in vote in the National Assembly requiring a

two-thirds majority. The six stars are meant to represent the six ethnicities of Kosovo, Albanian, Serbian, Bosniak,

Gorani, Turk and Roma. However, the overwhelming symbolism of the new flag will not be lost on anyone, echoing

as it does the EU’s very own standard, a blue flag with a circle of yellow stars. Indeed, Kosovo hopes that sooner

rather than later the two flags will be flying next to each other over the parliament building in Prishtina.

7


Currency

Kosovo’s close relationship with the European Union

is also borne out by their currency which is the Euro.

The country switched to this from the German mark

after that country also adopted the Euro. Beyond the

symbolism of the country and the government using

the Euro as their main currency, the adoption has

added practical benefits. Indeed, the use of the Euro,

gives Kosovo’s infant economy a sense of stability and

a strong currency.

Education

The poly-lingualism

of Kosovo is not only

testament to a diversity

of cultures but also

to the education

standards of the

country. With such

a young population,

the government has

recognised that this

is a crucial pillar for

development. The

reform process is well under way and Kosovo’s two

public universities have over 30,000 students with a

further 10,000 at the various private universities and

colleges dotted around the country. At the primary

and secondary level, Kosovo has almost 1,200 schools

serving approximately 420,000 students.

Business Environment

This may well help the country to attract more investors; however,

it is certainly not the only incentive. The country has low taxes

and a transparent tax system. Kosovo has also been working hard

to harmonise and bring into line its laws with those of European

countries and the European Union. The country has a transparent

and open investment climate with the Investment Promotion Agency

of Kosovo (IPAK) working hard to attract more foreign direct

investment (FDI). IPAK offers a number of free services including

information on investment opportunities in Kosovo, information on

the business and legal environment, market analysis, assistance with

local authorities and after-care-services.

The country’s VAT stands at 15% with a reduced rate of 0% for agricultural

inputs. Exporters also receive a full VAT rebate. For import taxes, the tariff stands at 10% with an exemption

for certain capital and intermediary goods. Income tax is in the range of 0-20%. These figures compare extremely

well with the region and mark Kosovo out as the least taxed country in South Eastern Europe.

Business procedures and the investment regime are also simple. On average, business registration is completed

within 3 days. Moreover, the investment regime is the same for both Kosovo’s citizens and foreign investors

including national treatment, guarantees for unrestricted use of income, protection against expropriations and

the outlawing of discrimination. However, the country is not resting on its laurels with the government and UNMIK

constantly refining and monitoring investment procedures.

The practical business environment is comparable to that of the rest of the Western world. Working hours for

businesses and shops tend to be from 9am to 5 or 6pm. For business meetings and offices, a suit is usually worn.

Combined with its strategic position and youthful population, Kosovo’s business environment provides an attractive

proposition for foreign investors. Indeed, beyond the economy, the country has a lot to offer visitors and long term

guests. From its rich historical and cultural legacy to the country’s natural beauty, Kosovo is a unique proposition.

While independence was gained less than a year ago, the country has been working a lot longer to take its place as

a key player in Europe’s future. While many Europeans may still have a hazy knowledge of the country, it is clear

that this will change sooner rather than later.

8


• Increasing Competition and Efficiency, the Privatisation Process Is Going into Overdrive

• On the Road to the Union, Kosovo Has Already Made Big Strides

• Improved Stability and Measured Growth Point to a Maturing Economy

Business & Investment

Opportunities

9


KOSOVO

Business & Investment Opportunities

When the UN Mission in Kosovo

(UNMIK) first arrived in Kosovo,

the legacies of the Yugoslavian

legal system and governance model

persisted. However, since the turn

of the century, the government and

UNMIK have come a long way in

bringing the country into line with

economic best practice. Perhaps

the best illustration of this is the

ambitious privatisation drive, which

has created thousands of jobs and

boosted company revenues.

Increasing Competition

Process Is Going into

In 2002, when the Kosovo Trust

Agency was founded there were

500 Socially Owned Enterprises

(SOEs) awaiting privatisation.

However, the level of productivity

was low with only 30% of these

companies operational. The

turnaround in these fortunes has

been dramatic. As of December

2007, 310 SOEs had been

privatised accounting for more

than 90% by value of all these

companies. This swift transfer

of social assets to the private

sector has been the catalyst for

a significant increase in Kosovar

exports and a swelling investor

confidence.

10


KOSOVO

Business & Investment Opportunities

and Efficiency, the Privatisation

Overdrive

However, the process is by no means

over. Obstacles remain including

the need to pay creditors of some

of the SOEs and the need to sell

the remaining non core assets of

these businesses. Furthermore,

the privatisation process has

enshrined the notion of distributing

proceeds from the programme

to the workers of these SOEs.

Indeed, under this scheme, 20%

of the proceeds from tenders are

to be paid to the workers. This distribution

is still being carried out.

Yet it is clear that the privatisation

process has already had a dramatic

impact upon the economy of

Kosovo. Under the thirty waves of

privatisation, 545 new companies

have been tendered with 343 sales

contracts signed. This has raised

significant capital with total privatisation

proceeds exceeding €353.5

million of which €70.7million has

been earmarked for employee

entitlements. Most privatisations

will be in the agriculture and trade

sectors which account for almost

34% of all SOEs. In addition to

this the Kosovo Trust Agency

board has sanctioned 106 liquidations

with consequent proceeds of

€8.3 million.

While the privatisations have not

been breathtaking in number, they

have been critical for the future

strategic growth of the country.

Some estimates suggest that the

SOEs account for 90% of Kosovo’s

industrial assets and as much as

20% of its prime agricultural real

estate and 60% of its forests. It

was therefore crucial that these

companies were overhauled to

align themselves with efficient and

competitive international business

practices.

The privatisation programme

has been two-pronged with

regular and special spin-offs.

The latter, which account for 20

of the sales contracts hitherto

signed, are designed to protect

the character and value of the

tendered company. Under this

scheme, the bidder has to make

certain assurances to the Kosovo

Trust Agency that the original

character of the business will be

maintained, that a certain level

of investment will be injected

into the company and that a

certain number of people will be

employed. The biggest special

spin-offs thus far have been the

Hotel Grand in Prishtina and

the Ferronikeli Nickel Mine.

Under the latter tender, it was

stipulated that there must be a

minimum investment size of €20

million and that 1,000 workers

be hired within a year of the sale

finalisation. Other significant

sell-offs include the Peja Brewery,

Kosovo’s only major beer

producer, the Rahoveci Winery,

the country’s largest winery, and

IDGJ Tobacco.

Under the regular spin-offs, the

purchasing company has no

further obligations to the Kosovo

Trust Agency upon signing a sales

contract. However, the spin-off

itself is a two- stepped process with

the assets initially being transferred

to a joint stock company 100%

owned by the SOE. Therefore,

a new company is formed for

privatisation.

The privatisation process had

already generated 4,200 investor

contacts in the Kosovo Trust

Agency by June 2006. Moreover,

further high profile privatisations

are expected over the coming

years. While the government has

thus far held on to its utility and

infrastructure providers, they may

well be lined up for privatisation

in the future. Hitherto, these

publicly owned enterprises (POEs)

have been incorporated, which

has allowed for the review and

valuation of all assets and liabilities

as well as an overview of operating

procedures and efficiencies. This

has paved the way for modern

competitive service providers,

which could be handed over to

the private sector. Indeed, perhaps

the most attractive company being

lined up for a potential sell-off is

the incumbent mobile operator,

Vala.

While much has already been

achieved, the future, therefore,

looks extremely positive for

Kosovo’s former SOEs and POEs.

This will not only create instant

revenue but will help to grow the

country’s economy in a number of

ways from increasing freight traffic

to boosting exports. The private

sector is therefore becoming

an equal partner in the future

economic success story of Kosovo.

11


KOSOVO

Business & Investment Opportunities

Forward-Thinking Chamber

Promoting Kosovo as Gateway

The Kosovo Chamber of Commerce

is an international, non-profit,

independent organisation which

unites foreign and domestic

companies and is focused on

enhancing business opportunities in

Kosovo. It has formed links with other

chambers of commerce throughout the

world and welcomes new members.

Besim Beqaj, President, discusses the

chamber’s activities and the services

it can provide to foreign investors.

ET: Kosovo officially became

independent earlier this year. What

has been the impact on the business

sector and how has the chamber

been involved in new initiatives?

B. Beqaj: Many international

companies were waiting for Kosovo’s

official status as an independent

country. From a business point of

view, independence has increased

international interest in Kosovo and

a number of fact finding missions

have been launched to help

potential investors better understand

the country. The Chamber of

Commerce has hosted these missions

and organised visits with many

companies here in Kosovo. Another

recent achievement since independence

has been Kosovo’s significant

reform of its fiscal policy, something

for which the Chamber has been

lobbying strongly for the past few

years. With the new government, we

have achieved the new fiscal policy

Besim Beqaj, President Kosovo Chamber of

Commerce

and have lowered taxes, which will

make Kosovo more business-friendly

and competitive.

ET: Many Europeans have mistaken

ideas about current conditions in

Kosovo, associating the country with

the war years. How is the Chamber of

Commerce working to better inform

potential investors about Kosovo?

B. Beqaj: It’s very important to dispel

misunderstandings about Kosovo in

Europe and around the world. We

welcome the opportunity to show

people the real Kosovo. This country

is already well on the way to catching

up with the rest of Europe. We are

witnessing increasing interest in

Kosovo and our experience is that

once people come here and see

what the country is really like, they

discover that it is a very open, business-friendly

environment. This is the

time and place to take advantage of a

developing economy’s potential.

ET: What makes Kosovo business

friendly?

B. Beqaj: In addition to its sound

fiscal policy and tax advantages,

Kosovo has a very clear and strong

legal system, especially compared

to other countries in the region,

and this has reassured and helped

many companies. The Chamber

recognises that a country’s regulatory

environment and legal system are

crucial factors for business, so we

are strongly promoting the fact that

Kosovo’s legal system was started

from scratch to achieve compliance

with EU standards. The chamber

is working to show the world what

Kosovo has accomplished concerning

its regulatory environment and how

advantageous this is for the business

sector. Other advantages include

Kosovo’s membership in CEFTA and

its attractive customs agreement with

the EU, which make Kosovo an ideal

base for trade.

ET: What is the Chamber of

Commerce doing to promote

Kosovo as a better choice than

competing countries, for example

Croatia?

B. Beqaj: The Chamber is actively

involved in correcting misconceptions

about Kosovo. Three years ago I read

an article in an Austrian publication

that contained many errors about

Kosovo and presented the country

in a very negative light. I contacted

the editor of the publication and the

Austrian Embassy in Belgrade and

12


KOSOVO

Business & Investment Opportunities

invited Austrian media representatives

to visit Kosovo and see it with

their own eyes. This one initiative

resulted in very positive articles

about Kosovo in 14 different publications.

Our goal is to show people

that any negative ideas they might

have about Kosovo are not justified.

We also want to show people that

Kosovo offers definite advantages

over its neighbours, including a

central location and the legal system

I have already mentioned. We also

have a youthful population and a

skilled and low-cost labour force. In

addition, new highways being built

will link Kosovo even more closely

with Albania, Serbia and other destinations.

Enhancing connectivity with

the rest of the region is a high priority

in the government’s development

plans. Both the government and

international organisations,

including the World Bank

and the EIB, will

be making

major investments in Kosovo’s infrastructure

next year and beyond. This

will include road networks, telecom

infrastructure and such projects as

the new Drenas business park, which

is set to open in 2015.

ET: What are some of the chamber’s

current initiatives?

B. Beqaj: We plan to invest even

more in communications efforts, to

strengthen our partnership with the

government, to work more closely with

other chambers of commerce

throughout the region,

and in general

to boost our

networking

activities.

As the

president of the Kosovo Chamber of

Commerce, I have worked very hard

to improve the image of the chamber

within Kosovo’s business community

and government, and now we are

going into the next phase, which is

to increase our regional and international

presence. We would like to

have strong partners in the European

Union. We aim to show international

companies that Kosovo can be

their best gateway to South-Eastern

Europe.

13


KOSOVO

Business & Investment Opportunities

Central Bank of the Republic of Kosovo

Central Bank Committed to Best

Kosovo built its financial sector from scratch beginning

in 1999, employing the highest international standards

to build a strong foundation for future growth. With

the support of the International Monetary Fund and

other international organisations, the government

has succeeded in establishing a world-class regulatory

environment and a strong Central Bank of the Republic

of Kosovo (the CBK).

Hashim Rexhepi, the CBK’s Governor, says, “We

have implemented international best practices with

regards to regulation and supervision of all financial

institutions in Kosovo. In only a short time, the

CBK has built a strong management team, a solid

legal framework and excellent cooperation with the

regional and international financial community, the

above will continue to constitute an important part of

the CBK’s activities.

The CBK’s main goals are to foster a sound, solvent,

efficiently functioning, stable, market-based financial

system; to encourage the emergence of safe financial

instruments on the Kosovo market; to provide services

to the financial community by fostering an efficient

and safe payment system; and to contribute to

Kosovo’s economic development through its analysis

related to general policies in Kosovo.

Adoption of euro boosted investors’

confidence

Along with applying international standards, Kosovo

adopted the euro as its currency beginning in 2002,

which has enhanced the financial sector performance

and created more confidence in the Kosovar economy.

“Having the euro also means no exchange risks, and

our monetary policy is built on that of the European

Central Bank. All this reassures foreign investors,”

Hashim Rexhepi explains.

Hashim Rexhepi, Governor

In fact, the CBK has played a major role in attracting

more foreign investors to Kosovo’s financial services

sector. “Over 90% of financial sector assets are

under foreign ownership, around 67% of insurance

sector assets are with foreign ownership, whereas

the banking sector now includes strong banks from

Kosovo, elsewhere in the region and from the EU.

This foreign presence has brought investments in

capital, experience, good corporate governance

and stability to Kosovo’s financial sector,” Hashim

Rexhepi points out.

Increasing transparency

The CBK has performed its tasks step by step. First, it

focused on simply establishing a new payments and

14


KOSOVO

Business & Investment Opportunities

Practices

financial system for Kosovo. Then,

it concentrated on opening up

Kosovo’s financial sector to foreign

participation, on strengthening the

sector overall, and on establishing

strong regulatory systems for both the

banking and the insurance sectors.

Next, the CBK fine-tuned the sector

by finding solutions for any problems

that had appeared. “Today, now that

we have a very strong, sound and

stable financial sector, our objective

for the future is to increase transparency

and advance market conduct,”

Hashim Rexhepi says.

The CBK is currently focusing

on implementing Basel II criteria

concerning disclosure and transparency.

“We have continuously

received technical assistance from

the EU, the United States Agency

for International Development

(USAID), the IMF and the World

Bank concerning revising our legal

framework and capacity building

of our staff. We can confidently say

that our legal framework is very

much in line with all EU directives.

Moreover, our procedures are

competitive with procedures in

other EU countries concerning

licensing and supervision,” Hashim

Rexhepi explains.

Hashim Rexhepi adds that the CBK

not only consults EU directives

when devising new policies, but

also adopts best practices both

regionally and internationally

recognised and accepted. “We try

to harmonise and balance the two

elements: EU directives and the

environment in which we operate,”

he says.

Boosting financial sector’s

GDP contribution

The CBK serves not only to bring

stability and transparency to the

financial sector and foster efficient

payment systems, but also to

advise the government concerning

Kosovo’s economic development.

A guiding principle for the CBK is

to enhance Kosovo’s economy, and

thanks to the financial institution’s

efforts the financial sector has

become a significant contributor to

Kosovo’s GDP.

The CBK is also working to

alleviate unemployment in Kosovo,

which Hashim Rexhepi singles out

as one of the main problems the

country currently faces. “Certainly

the financial sector has played a

key role in the reduction of unemployment,

since all financial institutions

in Kosovo hire local staff,”

he says.

Three new banking licenses

last year

Kosovo’s financial sector had new

entries last year. Hashim Rexhepi

points out that two local banks were

acquired by NLB Bank (Slovenian

Bank) in order to increase

competition in the banking sector,

and the CBK issued three more

banking licenses. “More foreign

investors are looking for ways to

invest in Kosovo’s financial sector

because confidence in the sector is

increasing,” he says.

Foreign investors in Kosovo should

know that the local financial sector

is sound and can fulfil their needs.

As Hashim Rexhepi points out,

The return on assets is very high

in Kosovo; in fact, it is the highest

in South East Europe. In addition,

our legal framework ensures equal

opportunities for foreign investors,

efficient payment systems and the

use of euro provides an added

value, and our laws on terrorism

funding and money laundering

are based on EU directives. At

the CBK, we are committed to

best practices and have ensured

a very transparent and profitable

financial sector. The sector’s

steady growth over the past eight

years shows the inherent strength

of Kosovo’s financial system.”

Throughout, CBK will devote all

efforts to carrying out its tasks in

the most independent and professional

manner, and assist further

in the integration of Kosovo’s

financial sector in regional and

European initiatives.

Central Bank

of the Republic of Kosovo

Garibaldi str. 33

10000 Prishtina - Kosovo

Tel.: +381 38 243 766

Fax: +381 38 243 763

www.cbak-kos.org

15


KOSOVO

Business & Investment Opportunities

On the Road to the Union, Kosovo

Has Already Made Big Strides

With the seminal step of independence

achieved relatively smoothly,

Kosovo now has its sights firmly set

on European integration and EU

succession. The country already has

an established history of working

with European institutions to aid

economic development and institution

building. It is now moving on from

this solid base to meet the criteria

necessary for entry to the top table of

EU membership.

This is no distant ambition but a

driving force in the first post-independent

steps of Europe’s newest

country. It is also writ large in the

country’s founding document, the

Kosovar constitution. According

to Agim Ceku, Prime Minister of

Kosovo, “The government of Kosovo

embraces the values of the European

Union: peace, economic development

and freedom of movement for all.

EU membership is not a dream. Our

experience in accomplishing the

goals established in the Standards

process will help us in achieving our

accession obligations.”

The EU has played a crucial role in

supporting these ambitions. Indeed,

Europe has been the biggest donor to

Kosovo over the past decade providing

€1.6 billion in financial support

since 1999. The main EU vehicle

for helping Kosovar development is

the European Commission Liaison

Office (ECLO) which implements

assistance under the Instrument of

16


Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). In 2008, the ECLO has

taken over the Community Assistance for Reconstruction,

Development and Stability (CARDS) programmes

from the European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR).

Since the year 2000, the CARDS programme has run

more than 1,600 contracts ranging in value from €5,000

to €50 million. Currently, in 2008, 150 contracts are still

open and now being run by the ECLO.

The CARDS programme, whose aim was democratic

stabilisation, social and economic development,

institution building and good governance, is now

being replaced with the IPA. Kosovo will benefit from

two components of this EU initiative: the ‘Institution

Building and Transition Support’ and the ‘Cross-Border

Cooperation’. For the funding period 2007-2011,

the EU has earmarked more than €400 million under

these components and will offer more aid per capita to

Kosovo than any other place in the world over the next

three years.

This targeted assistance falls under the wider EU

framework for the Western Balkans called the Stabilisation

and Association Process (SAP). SAP has been

established to confirm the EU belief that the whole

Western Balkans has a European perspective and to

create a mechanism under which all participants to the

process can pass through a transparent and standardised

set of benchmarks at their own rate of progress.

This process also monitors and encourages convergence

with EU practices, standards and norms on a range of

issues both political and economic. It also aims to have

a specific influence on critical areas of reform such as

transport, the environment and agriculture.

However, Kosovo is at the beginning of this journey.

Although the Thessaloniki Summit of June 2003 formally

recognised that Kosovo has a European perspective, the

country still has to embark on a process of political,

legal and institutional transformation to achieve this

end goal. According to Renzo Daviddi, Head of the

ECLO, “I guess the main challenge Kosovo now faces

is how to build up institutions and how to make the

transformation from the embryonic stage to a more

adult stage.” However, the country has also made great

strides. “I think the legal framework for a number of

reasons, including the fact that there has been a large

international community presence, perhaps is more

advanced than other countries in the region. This is an

area where Kosovo has a large advantage compared to

other countries looking for EU accession,” adds Renzo

Daviddi.

Renzo Daviddi, Head of European Commission Liaison Office

Kosovo is now working in partnership with the

EU to take the necessary steps to enact these

transformations. Under the Stabilisation and

Association Process Tracking Mechanism (STM),

enshrined in the Thessaloniki Summit, the EU

can monitor and help Kosovo progress within

SAP at its own pace. Likewise, Kosovo itself has

also set up mechanisms to make sure domestic

reform is aligned with the goals of EU accession.

Indeed, the Kosovo authorities established the

European Partnership Action Plan (EPAP) which

creates a framework and concrete policies for the

creation and prosecution of legislation and the

establishment of institutional structures in line

with European requirements. In practical terms,

these partnerships and associations will help track

and implement measures on a number of issues

including human and minority rights, freedom

of movement and goods, public procurement,

intellectual property law, customs and taxation,

education and research and agriculture and

fisheries policy.

Therefore, although there is some way to go,

Kosovo has already made giant strides towards

convergence with European norms and EU

accession. Indeed, as the EU has offered a

guiding hand at the very conception of the

country, Kosovo is well placed to establish itself as

a leading protagonist and advocate of European

values and governance.

17


Improved Stability and Measured

Growth Point to a Maturing Economy

While independence was only achieved in February 2008,

Kosovo has been pursuing a stable and fruitful economic

policy for some time now. This has been borne out by

the increasingly impressive figures for both GDP growth

and the budget. Indeed, the country is creeping towards

Southeast European (SEE) levels of growth while still

managing to balance the books. Under the stewardship

of the European Union, the country has been able to

resist the temptation to overreach itself while ensuring

that many sectors have been liberalised and export-orientated

industries have been unshackled. However, this

is still a work in progress and the government has set

ambitious targets to further stimulate the economy over

the coming five years.

In 2007, the country recorded GDP growth of 3.5%

slightly below the SEE average of 5.9% but a clear

increase on growth in 2005 which stood at 0.3%. This

translated into a GDP figure of €2.4 billion and an

ever improving GDP per capita of €1,400. This was

achieved despite a decline in the donor sector. More

importantly, this growth was not boosted by public

expenditure but by the expanding role of the private

sector in economic life. In 2006, non-housing private

investment increased by 61% while banks loans to

the private sector also increased markedly.

Indeed, the economy has become less reliant on

government and donor sector expenditure. Donor

sector expenditures, in terms of consumption and

investments fell 1.7% in 2007 amounting to €355

million or 14.4% of GDP. Government spending on

goods and services fell 8.3% in 2007 although after a

18


KOSOVO

Business & Investment Opportunities

two year decrease of 11.6%, total government expenditures

actually increased by 6.2% in 2007 to €426

million or 17.3% of GDP.

Moreover, the country bucked the regional trend

and recorded a budgetary surplus of €233.7

million which represents approximately 9.8% of

GDP. This was largely the result of an increase in

non-tax revenues. While the country has a current

account deficit of 22.5% of GDP driven by a trade

deficit of 9%, exports have been increasing steadily.

Indeed, Kosovo’s exports grew by a staggering 54%

in 2006. In 2007, exports reached €146.6 million

mainly consisting of minerals, base metals, vegetable

products and foodstuffs. Government estimates

suggest that exports could climb as high as €350

than €1 billion invested since the year 2000. This

impressive growth is expected to increase rapidly

with the government estimating that the FDI level

will touch €700 million in 2008.

Kosovo’s liberal trade regime has also stimulated

imports into the country. Kosovo is a member of the

Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA)

which allows for free trade between the members of

the bloc and enables producers to access a regional

market of 28 million consumers free of customs

duties. Indeed, the largest number of exports came

from CEFTA countries in 2007. Overall imports have

been increasing steadily since 2002 and had touched

almost €1.6 billion in 2007. This is a significant

increase in a two year period for imports were below

Kosovo real GDP by sector, in million euro

Private Sector

Government Sector

Donor Sector

3.5

3.0

2.5

-

-

-

2.33

Net Exports (right axis)

2.45

Real GDP Growth (right axis)

2.65

3.1

2.04

3.5

-

-

-

5

4

2.0

-

2.0

-

3

1.5

1.0

0.5

-

-

-

0.51 0.43

0.45

0.38

0.40 0.36

0.43

0.35

-

-

-

2

1

0.0

-0.5

-1.0

-1.5

-

-

-

-

-0.95

-1.0

-0.98

-1.01

-1.11

- 0

-

-1

-

- -2

2004 2005 2006 2007

Source: 2007 annual report of the Central Banking Authority of Kosovo

million in 2008 as the country’s productive capabilities

increase dramatically. The largest export

market for Kosovo is the EU closely followed by the

Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA)

countries.

Likewise, the country has had considerable success

in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). High

profile European banks, Raiffeisen and Pro-Credit

moved into the market during the transition phase.

However, they are just the most visible tip of the

iceberg. According to Business Registry data for

2007, Kosovo has 2,012 companies of foreign or

mixed ownership. Such investment has translated

into an FDI figure of €300 million for 2007 with more

€1 billion in 2005. These imports have not only been

stimulated by CEFTA but also by Kosovo’s non-reciprocal

customs free access to the EU market through

the EU Autonomous Trade Preference (ATP) regime.

The main imports of commodity goods are centred

on minerals and prepared foodstuffs.

The economy is therefore becoming increasingly

robust with trade, construction and the financial

services sector being the mainstay of growth.

Indeed, driven by the banking industry, the financial

sector has been expanding rapidly. According to

the Central Bank of Kosovo, financial sector assets

reached 58.5% of GDP in 2007 up from 49% in 2006.

The banking sector makes up the lion’s share of this

19


KOSOVO

Business & Investment Opportunities

accounting for 90% of financial sector assets in 2007.

The sector is undoubtedly buoyant with significant

investment in 2007 leading to the establishment of

new operators and increased foreign ownership.

The real economy is also progressing well. Overall

consumption in 2007 rose by 3.8% to €2.8 billion.

This represents 114.3% of GDP and has been

growing steadily over the last 4 years from a figure

of €2.57 billion in 2004. Much of this was fuelled

by the private sector which was responsible for €2.2

billion of consumption in 2007, an increase of 5.2%

on 2006. Investments as a share of GDP have also

been increasing significantly rising by 15.2% in 2007

to reach 33% of GDP. This is a marked increase on

2006 when they stood at 29.9% of GDP. The private

particularly from non-tax sources which increased as

a share of total revenues to 17.3% in 2007 from 8%

in 2006.

The budget surplus has given the country some leeway

and goes against the grain of the region where most

regional countries, with the exception of Montenegro

having a deficit in 2007 and a four year average well

below the Kosovar surplus of 1.2% of GDP. Given

this surplus, the Central Bank of Kosovo predicts that

expenditure in the country will rise substantially in

2008. Indeed, it predicts that expenditure will reach

€1.1 billion in 2008 which is a 68.9% increase on

2007. The three areas of particular spending focus

will be capital expenditure, subsidies and transfers

and the purchase of goods and services.

Imports and Exports by commodity groups as share to total, as of 2007

Live animals,

3.9%

Stone, Plaster,

Ceramic,

4.4%

Textiles,

3.3%

Imports

Other,

9.8%

Mineral products,

20.2%

Prep.

foodstuffs,

5.1%

Plastics and

articles,

4.1%

Exports

Other,

10.9%

Plastics and

articles,

4.6%

Transport

means,

5.2%

Vegetable

products,

5.3%

Prod. of

chemical

industry,

7.5%

Base metals,

9.2%

Machinery,

12.5%

Prep.

foodstuffs,

14.1%

Vegetable

products,

5.7%

Machinery,

13.1%

Mineral

products,

15.4%

Base metals,

45.7%

Source: 2007 annual report of the Central Banking Authority of Kosovo

sector once again plays a vital role here reaching

€647 million or 26.3% of GDP in 2007. Indeed,

private sector investment growth stood at 14.6% in

2007.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rose to 4.5%

in 2007 from 0.62% the previous year. However, this

is largely attributable to the global increase in oil

and food prices. Indeed, despite this, the country’s

fiscal planning is on a sure footing. Kosovo’s consolidated

budget revenues showed an annual increase

of 25.9% in 2007 hitting €896.4 million for the year.

This accounts for 37.7% of GDP and is an impressive

31.3% higher than the government’s planned targets.

This was a result of higher than expected revenues

The country is therefore well placed to consolidate

and build on its recent economic successes. With

both domestic production and the trade regime

becoming ever more healthy, the prospects for

future growth look rosy. This is confirmed by the

country’s attractive tax regime and impressive

investment climate that should see FDI exceed the

already upward trends that have been set. Indeed,

Kosovo’s economy is taking on an increasingly

diversified hue with productive sectors such as

industry and agriculture sitting alongside financial

services and other service sectors in recording good

growth. This should ensure that the improving

economic outlook can be sustained for the long

term.

20


• Now Is the Time to Invest in Kosovo

Finance & Banking

Kosovo’s market is open and

ready for investment. If you

look at other Baltic countries

that are now EU members, you

can see the potential.”

Ahmet Shala, Minister of Economy and Finance


KOSOVO

Finance & Banking

Ministry of Economy and Finance

Now Is the Time to Invest

Ahmet Shala, Kosovo’s Minister of Economy and

Finance, discusses recent developments in Kosovo’s

financial sector and the country’s investment

potential.

Ahmet Shala, Minister of Economy and Finance

ET: How important are the banking and insurance sectors

for Kosovo’s economic development?

A. Shala: They are extremely important. Over the past eight

years, for post-conflict structural reasons, the government has

emphasized public sector institutional development, but now

we must shift towards the private sector since this is where both

growth and new jobs will be generated. A credible financial

sector is essential for Kosovo’s economic development, and our

financial sector, although young and emerging, has performed

well and demonstrated a capacity for stability.

ET: What are your priorities for the financial sector?

A. Shala: A key task is to ensure that the financial sector can

fulfill the needs of the private sector. So far, the availability of

liquidity and loans has been adequate, but for a relatively low

level of economic development. The financial sector must work

with private business to develop good credible business plans

from which private investment can be generated.

22


KOSOVO

Finance & Banking

in Kosovo

ET: What is Kosovo doing to achieve EU integration?

A. Shala: The government’s Medium Term Expenditure

Framework was very well received at a Kosovo donors’

conference hosted by the European Commission in

Brussels in July, and Kosovo has been accepted into

the pre-accession process and is receiving EU support

through Instrument of Pre-Accession funding. Kosovo

has also joined the Central European Free Trade

Association. European investors should know that

the EU integration process is now in place, and that

there is considerable scope for helping local institutions

establish well-backed credit lines, develop leasing

activities, and so on.

ET: What incentives does Kosovo offer foreign investors?

A. Shala: The fundamental approach to economic

development in Kosovo has been to put in place an institutional

structure that encourages development within

a liberal market framework. Tax rates are relatively

low and the corporate tax rate was recently reduced to

10%. The tax base is wide and the structure is simple,

the labour market is liberal as is the environment for

foreign trade, it is relatively easy to set up a business,

and the public sector has an excellent good-practice

financial management process. In other words, Kosovo

is fundamentally investor friendly.

ET: For many people, Kosovo is associated with its war

torn past. How are you countering this international image?

A. Shala: People should be aware that international

financial institutions are very active in Kosovo and

support our efforts, which is an excellent reflection of

Kosovo’s stability and growth potential. Kosovo recently

applied to join the International Monetary Fund and

the World Bank, a further guarantee of stability. In

addition, Kosovo has adopted the euro, which has had

a highly beneficial effect on controlling inflation and

promoting financial stability. Deposit insurance is now

under discussion and we are working to ensure credit

and liquidity for small and medium sized enterprises.

All this gives the country credibility.

ET: Why should European investors choose Kosovo as

an investment destination?

A. Shala: The government’s approach is clear: to put

Kosovo solidly on the path to EU integration. Kosovo is

already within the European Stability Pact framework, it

is receiving official financial support from the EU, and

it is making sure it is EU compliant in every area. Our

laws respect the EU Acquis Communautaire. The EU

integration process has worked very well in other small

countries, such as Ireland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

There is no reason why it should not succeed equally well

here in Kosovo.

Kosovo’s specific advantages include its young population,

massive reserves of lignite and other minerals, and

enormous potential for tourism, such as skiing and hiking

in the mountains. Our privatisation programme has

proved to be a success and we are now focusing on our

investment and export promotion. The important thing is

to create the right market environment, and Kosovo is well

on the way to achieving this.

ET: What is your personal message to potential investors?

A. Shala: There is a simple but powerful paradigm that

has applied to virtually all Central European and Balkan

countries: in the immediate post-Soviet and post-Yugoslavia

transition, the sequence in very simple terms has been to

liberalise markets, privatise the financial sector and public

utilities (which attracts foreign direct investment and

creates new jobs), and stimulate the growth of smaller and

medium sized enterprises to create more jobs. This process

takes time, but a lot of this has already been put into place

in Kosovo.

My message to investors, therefore, is that Kosovo’s

market is open and ready for investment. If you look at

other Baltic countries that are now EU members, you

can see the potential. Who would have expected this 20

years ago? Come and visit Kosovo and discover all the

many unexplored investment opportunities the country

offers. Just make sure you come here ahead of your

competitors!

23


KOSOVO

Finance & Banking

NLB Prishtina

Leading Commercial Bank Positioned

to Partner Foreign Investors

NLB Prishtina, with a 16%

share of the local market, is one of

Kosovo’s top commercial banks. It

offers highly trained professionals,

flexibility, innovation, efficiency,

and a wide range of services to its

local and international clientele,

and has the largest network of any

bank in Kosovo.

Albert Lumezi, General Manager,

explains that NLB Prishtina is

the product of a merger of two

local banks, NBK and KasaBank.

The new bank began operating

on January 1, 2008 with some

€200 million in assets, making it

Kosovo’s third largest bank. NLB

Prishtina has positioned itself as

the partner of choice for international

investors. “We are absolutely

ready to support businesses coming

to Kosovo by providing them with

sound financial services,” Albert

Lumezi says.

Albert Lumezi, General Manager

NLB’s competitive edge is that

it provides diverse products and

services, it has the backing of regional

leader the NLB Group, and it has

developed a strategy of sustainable

growth. “We aim to make NLB one

of the best banks in Kosovo. We

are focused on both the retail and

corporate segments. Our primary

intention is to serve the business

community by fulfilling companies’

objectives and development goals,”

Albert Lumezi says. The bank’s local

reputation is so strong that 95% of

its clientele is from Kosovo.

supporting the country’s continued

economic development.” He adds

that Kosovo’s investment appeal also

includes low taxes, an EU compatible

regulatory framework, political

stability, a young and multilingual

population, competitive labour

prices, and strong growth potential.

Banking dominates the local financial

sector, accounting for 85% of total

assets. The banking sector has been

growing by 15% per year on average

for the past three years, Albert Lumezi

explains. He adds, “It is also worth

mentioning that the average return

on investments in Kosovo’s banking

sector is higher than the regional

average. In addition, financial sector

regulations meet EU standards, and

the use of the euro has contributed

to controlling inflation. Kosovo’s

financial sector is far ahead of those

of its neighbours.”

Urging international investors to

investigate opportunities in Kosovo,

Albert Lumezi concludes, “Now is

the right time to invest here, and you

will have a strong partner in NLB

Prishtina.”

Financial sector a success

story

Kosovo offers significant investment

opportunities, and the progress the

country has made in upgrading

its financial sector reflects its long

term potential. As Albert Lumezi

says, “Kosovo’s financial sector has

achieved real progress in providing

sound services and thereby

NLB Bank Prishtina

Rr. Rexhep Luci Nr.5

Tel. +381 38234 111

Fax: +381 38246 189

info@nlbprishtina-kos.com

www.nlbprishtina-kos.com

24


KOSOVO

Finance & Banking

Raiffeisen Bank

Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo Named

Bank of the Year 2007

Raiffeisen Bank, with the strongest

capitalisation of any bank in

Kosovo, had a record year in 2007.

The bank’s assets grew by more than

27% over the year to reach €477

million and its profits totalled

€14.9 million. “Raiffeisen Bank

has recorded a significant growth

every year since it started to operate

in Kosovo,” says CEO Bogdan

Merfea. The Banker, a magazine of

the Financial Times Group, named

Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo ‘Bank of

the Year’ in 2007.

The bank was acquired by the

Raiffeisen International group in

2003 and now offers international

reach and expertise as well as in-depth

local knowledge. Raiffeisen International,

its parent company, is known

for its success in emerging markets

and has activities in 17 Central and

Eastern European countries with

banking and leasing subsidiaries, as

well as a number of other financial

service providers.

Bogdan Merfea, CEO

Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo is a

commercial bank serving both retail

and corporate customers. “Currently

we are in the sustainable growth stage

with our individual and corporate

clients contributing equally to our

growth in Kosovo. In the future,

however, I believe the retail sector

will offer the biggest opportunities,”

Bogdan Merfea says.

Ideal partner for foreign

investors

Raiffeisen Bank is the ideal local

partner for foreign investors in Kosovo.

Bogdan Merfea points out, “Our professional

skills, expertise, and tradition

help us to be a very attractive bank

for foreign investors, as does our welldeveloped

network in more advanced

economies. We have very good people

in Kosovo and we can also tap into the

knowledge of the group.” Raiffeisen

Bank is particularly well known in

Kosovo for its involvement in privatisation

projects.

Since it started to operate, Raiffeisen

Bank Kosovo has recorded sustainable

continuous growth in Kosovo’s

emerging financial services sector

in all three segments: assets, loans

and deposits. “We are a universal

bank offering banking products and

services to all customers. We continue

to be focused on offering comprehensive

financial solutions to both local

and international customers,” Bogdan

Merfea says.

Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo’s growth

strategy focuses on distribution

development and product innovation.

Bogdan Merfea says, “There is a lot of

room to create innovative products

tailored to the local market. Our

slogan is ‘Live better!’ Our brand is

closely linked to the aspirations of

the Kosovar people. Our slogan also

means that Raiffeisen Bank is not here

just to make money in the short term.

We are in Kosovo for the long haul.”

Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo J.S.C

UCK Street 51, Prishtina 10000,

Kosovo

Tel: +381 38 222 222

www.raiffeisen-kosovo.com

25


KOSOVO

Finance & Banking

ProCredit Bank Kosovo

Kosovo’s First Bank Supporting

Economic Growth

ProCredit Bank Kosovo achieved

very strong results last year, boosting

its profits by an impressive 107%.

Philip Sigwart, CEO, explains that

the bank also increased its assets by

27% to reach €549 million, and that

customer deposits also grew, totalling

some €550 million at present.

The bank’s return on equity is

around 50%, and 2008 should be

another good year. “Our results

show that business can be done

successfully in Kosovo. It’s all

about commitment. Of course our

business is about making a profit,

but most importantly it is about

contributing to Kosovo’s economic

development,” Philip Sigwart says.

ProCredit has a 40% share of the

local banking market.

ProCredit was established in 2000

as Micro Enterprise Bank to finance

Kosovo’s expanding economy. It

was re-branded to ProCredit Bank

in 2003 and is now majority owned

by ProCredit Holding based in

Frankfurt, Germany. “Many people

told us we were crazy to set up a

bank immediately after the war, but

we worked hard to make the bank a

success and now we are reaping the

fruits,” Philip Sigwart says. He adds

that Kosovo’s banking sector should

fare well in the current global

financial crisis since local banks are

financed fully by local deposits, and

deposits exceed loans.

ProCredit is ready to serve international

companies and investors

seeking opportunities in Kosovo.

The bank offers financing as well

as Kosovo’s most extensive branch

network (60 branches by the end

of 2008), and the country’s biggest

ATM network. “Our infrastructure is

top notch, especially for the Balkan

region,” Philip Sigwart says.

The bank, which already serves some

300,000 retail customers, anticipates

continued strong growth driven by

Kosovo’s expanding private sector.

ProCredit’s competitive edge is that,

as the country’s first bank, it is known

for its commitment to the local

economy. “That is the reason why

our main focus is on retail customers

and on small and medium sized

enterprises, which are the drivers

of economic growth. We focus very

much on responsible banking, which

is one of our core principles,” Philip

Sigwart explains.

Philip Sigwart urges foreign investors

to look into opportunities in Kosovo.

He says, “Doing business here is

more straightforward than in many

other countries in the region because

Kosovo’s regulatory environment was

created with the help of European

and international advisors. Secondly,

many Kosovars worked abroad during

the war years and learned skills they

have brought home. Finally, Kosovo

is in the heart of Europe. Hop on a

plane and come have a look!”

ProCredit Bank, Kosovo

Nena Tereze str. 16

10000 Prishtina, Kosovo

Tel.: +381 38 555777

Fax: +381 38 248777

www.procreditbank-kos.com

26


KOSOVO

Finance & Banking

Dukagjini Group

Insurance Leader Expanding

Product Portfolio

The Dukagjini Group demonstrates the growth potential

of Kosovo’s private sector. Ever since it was founded by

Mr. Ekrem Lluka in 1987 as a printing house and trade

enterprise, the group has evolved along with the Kosovar

economy and is now active in a wide range of sectors.

It has won a number of awards, including the International

Award for Quality and Business Prestige 2004.

Dukagjini Insurance, the group’s insurance division, was

licensed in February 2002 to provide compulsory third

party liability (TPL) coverage for motor vehicles and

has steadily expanded its offerings. It now has around

30 non TPL insurance products in its portfolio and has

earned a 19% share of the local market becoming the

market leader.

In 2006, Slovenian based reinsurance firm Sava Reinsurance,

which has an A- rating from Standard and Poor’s, acquired

a 51% stake in Dukagjini, which demonstrates the Kosovo

company’s growth potential. “Our long term strategy is to

further develop non TPL products like health, property,

engineering, liability and other forms of insurance,” says

Fatmir Gashi, General Director of Dukagjini Insurance. He

adds, “We already have a private pension fund operating

and are waiting for the government to pass laws opening

the market for investment funds.”

Dukagjini Insurance achieved profits of €418,000 in

2007 and anticipates that these profits will more than

double to around €1 million this year. The company

welcomes partnerships with EU insurance firms. As Mr.

Fatmir Gashi explains, “Through our association with

Sava Re, we have already shown our strategy of co-operating

and working with EU companies. We can provide EU

companies with world class insurance services for their

investments in Kosovo, and the Dukagjini Group can

also provide logistics support, advice for new investors

in Kosovo and in the same time we are open to possible

partnership opportunities as well. Dukagjini Insurance

has established branches throughout Kosovo and has

earned a very strong reputation in the market.

Dukagjini

Square Nëna Terezë 33

10000 Prishtina, Kosovo

Tel: +381 38 225 385

Fax: +381 38 225 384

info@insurancedukagjini.com

www.insurancedukagjini.com

Dukagjini Insurance and other companies in the

Dukagjini Group are also known for their exemplary

corporate citizenship. In July this year, Dukagjini

Group made a commitment to provide €160,000 over

two years to the American Councils for International

Education’s program in Kosovo, the Kosovo American

Education Fund (KAEF), which will offer scholarships to

promising Kosovars to get a master’s level education at

select American universities. Projects like these illustrate

Dukagjini’s commitment to Kosovo’s future.

27


• Ideal Base for Trade-Oriented Activities

Trade & Industry

“We are very proud of the fact

that although we achieved our

independence just this year, Kosovo

has already been recognised by other

countries worldwide.”

Lutfi Zharku, Minister of Trade and Industry


KOSOVO

Trade & Industry

Ministry of Trade and Industry

Ideal Base for Trade-Oriented

Activities

Lutfi Zharku, Minister of Trade and Industry

Thanks to its outstanding development potential, Kosovo

has already attracted more than €1 billion in foreign

direct investment and is home to more than 2,000 foreign

or partially foreign owned companies, many of which are

engaged in trade. Kosovo offers a number of attractions

for trade-oriented companies, including a liberal trade

regime, a supportive government, stable relations with

neighbouring countries, and a central location.

29


KOSOVO

Trade & Industry

Free trade agreements enhance Kosovo’s investment

appeal. The country is a member of the Central

European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), giving it

customs-free access to a regional market of around 28

million consumers. In addition, Kosovo benefits from

nonreciprocal, customs-free access to the EU market

based on the EU Autonomous Trade Preference (ATP)

Regime. Quantitative and qualitative restrictions remain

in force for only a very limited number of goods.

Kosovo is still an import-based economy, with total

imports reaching around €1.6 billion in 2007. The main

imports were minerals, prepared foods, machinery

and base metals. Kosovo is in the process of boosting

its exports significantly, however, and achieved €146.6

million in exports last year, mainly in minerals and

base metals, vegetables and food products. This year,

the country should reach €350 million in exports.

Its main trade partners are other CEFTA countries,

followed by the EU. There is enormous potential as

the local and regional market continues to grow and

as Kosovo strengthens its EU ties.

Kosovo’s Minister of Trade, Lutfi Zharku, discusses the

country’s key advantages as a base for trade-oriented

activities.

ET: What are some recent developments in Kosovo’s

trade sector?

L. Zharku: We are very proud of the fact that although

we achieved our independence just this year, Kosovo has

already been recognised by other countries worldwide.

A major event this year was the Kosovo Donors’

Conference held in Brussels in July, during which

Kosovo received €1.2 billion in financial support. This

reassures investors that Kosovo has a bright future.

ET: What are some of the government’s current

initiatives to attract foreign direct investment?

L. Zharku: The Investment Promotion Office within

the Ministry of Trade and Industy has been mandated

to attract investors and support them by providing

whatever they need, for example by obtaining licenses,

business registrations and so on. FDI will be the key

to Kosovo’s successful economic development and will

create needed new jobs.

ET: Privatisation is creating new investment opportunities.

What is the status of the process?

L. Zharku: The privatisation effort is now being handled

by the Kosovo Privatisation Agency, a transformed

version of the Kosovo Trust Agency. Around 500

companies have already been privatised and around

200 more are set for privatisation. I am not very happy

with the speed of the process so far. I hope that the

new agency will make things happen more quickly.

On the positive side, we now have a new law on public

enterprises, which will be monitored by the government

but not directly run by the government. We hope to

offer private investors more access to publicly owned

companies.

ET: Why should foreign investors choose Kosovo?

L. Zharku: There are many reasons. We have an

abundance of resources, a young population, a

central location in the Balkans, modern telecommunications,

a competitive and flexible labour force,

up-to-date policies and laws, and a tax system that is

very competitive for the region. In addition, Kosovo is

a member of CEFTA and has direct access to the EU,

and there are few barriers for future EU accession.

ET: What are the main challenges Kosovo faces

concerning the development of its trade and industry?

L. Zharku: We need to improve Kosovo’s international

image. We need to make more potential investors

aware that our legal framework is EU-compliant

and that we provide the same level of protection to

foreign investors as we do to domestic investors.

Everybody should know that the war era is over. Even

the problems with recognition by Serbia have not led

to an economic embargo. This is just one example of

the fact that Kosovo has achieved stability and is a safe

place to invest in.

ET: Can you single out some especially promising

sectors?

L. Zharku: Energy and mining are the key sectors

for Kosovo’s economic growth. We still have a lot

of problems with energy, but there are a number of

programmes and projects that will stabilise and develop

the energy supply. For mining, the development of the

Trepca mining complex, which will soon be privatised,

will have a huge impact on Kosovo’s economy. Other

sectors with excellent potential for the coming years

include wood and metal processing, information

technology, banking, tourism, and infrastructure

development. These sectors taken together provide

enormous opportunities for European investors. I invite

potential investors to visit Kosovo to see for themselves

its EU standards of doing business, its stability, its

attractive quality of life, and its great potential.

30


KOSOVO

Trade & Industry

Sharrcem

Building Kosovo’s future

Sharrcem, Kosovo’s only cement

producer, is helping to build the

Kosovo of the future. The company

is operated by the Holcim Group,

which is listed on the Swiss Stock

Exchange and has operations in

70 countries. Holcim signed a

10 year lease, manage, operate

contract for Kosovo’s Sharr

Cement Plant in 2000.

Mario Grassl, CEO, explains that

Sharrcem is Kosovo’s top supplier

of cement and that the company

has been growing steadily since its

inception eight years ago, keeping

pace with the 3% to 5% annual

growth of Kosovo’s construction

sector over that period. “The

Kosovo construction market will

continue to grow at these rates

in the future. Up to now, it has

been driven by demand for private

housing and for new construction

for private businesses. If public sector

construction spending increases,

this will mean a tremendous boost

for Sharrcem’s sales in Kosovo,” he

explains. He adds that high unemployment

and the need for foreign

direct investment are hampering

the government’s ability to invest in

infrastructure projects.

Long-term commitment

Sharrcem’s strategy is to aim for

long-term growth in Kosovo, and the

company welcomes partnerships with

European companies and investors.

“We would like to work with serious

business partners who do not come

to Kosovo for a quick buck but who

are, like us, committed to Kosovo

over the long term. Pivotal in our

long-term focus is of course the

extension of our 10 year agreement,”

Mario Grassl explains.

Challenges the company faces

include the plant’s need for around

€50-60 million in investments to

continue improvement of the

production facilities in order to

expand, and Kosovo’s need for a

reliable and adequate supply of

electrical power. Mario Grassl notes

that he has seen improvements in

the electricity network over the past

three years.

Sharrcem aims to expand beyond

Kosovo to bring its products to

regional markets. “We are looking

to widen our scope,” Mario Grassl

Mario Grassl, CEO

says. He adds that being part of the

Holcim Group gives Sharrcem a

competitive edge.

Mario Grassl urges European

investors to target Kosovo. He says,

The negative media image of

Kosovo is inaccurate. Kosovo has a

large educated workforce of young

people who are eager to find jobs,

and costs are low compared to other

Eastern European countries, particularly

concerning manufacturing

of products for export. I would also

say that creativity is quite high. I have

had only positive experiences with

the people here in Kosovo.”

Sharr Beteiligungs GmbH

Lagja e punëtorëve p.n.

71510 Hani i Elezit -Kosovo

Tel.: +381 290 385 511

Fax: +381 290 385 510

www.sharrcem.com

31


KOSOVO

Trade & Industry

Xella Group

Brick Producer Combines German

Technology and Local Raw Materials

World-renowned construction mate-

rial Company Xella International

invested 11.5 million in Kosovo and

plans to continue with investments.

“Our objective is to expeditiously

enter the regional market and become

a leader in the field in which we

operate,” stated its General Director,

Samir Krasniqi.

Xella International, with headquarters

in Duisburg of Germany is a

world market leading enterprise

in the production of construction

materials and raw materials of construction

materials. This enterprise

actively operates in more than 30

world countries and has a total of

over 7,600 employees. The sales

plan accomplished by Xella in 2007

stands at €1.3 billion.

Samir Krasniqi stated that Xella

International took the decision to

invest in Kosovo in 2003, whereas

in 2007 the factory had started

its production with the sale of

two categories of construction

materials that meet the highest

standards: blocks for construction

and decorative bricks. The initial

capacity of the factory is 30,000

m³ per year, with sales of €1.8

million.

SILKA, high quality products

Xella produces blocks and bricks

with an entirely natural composition

of calcium-silicates, meaning

gravel, lime and water; this is why

Samir Krasniqi, General Director

the products obtained the name of

SILKA.

“SILKA products are very strong

and have a long life, are healthy and

ecological to the indoor and external

environment as they regulate the

water humidity within the living

environment and do not allow the

creation of various mosses. Moreover

it is an inflammable material and in

contact with fire, it does not discharge

toxic gases. It is resistant against

changes in climatic conditions,

etc. In particular, it provides very

good isolation and precise size of

block moulds – up to ± 2mm, their

denticulate shaping allows for very

stable block to block connection

without additional materials. These

characteristics make this product distinguishable

from all other construction

materials in the region,” stated

Samir Krasniqi.

Samir Krasniqi also presented the

plans of Xella enterprise in Kosovo.

In the medium term, it plans to

produce other construction products

that Xella Enterprises can produce

everywhere. This will be conducted

by means of an investment such

as the one of the Xella factory in

Lipjan in the “Green Field” or by

means of acquisition of a factory in

the region.

“Our name is synonymous with

quality, whereas our cooperation with

local and foreign companies is based

on trust, honesty and dedication

toward clients and the development

of our society in general,” added

Samir Krasniqi.

Xella Kosova also welcomes partners

and investors of foreign companies,

by offering blocks and bricks of a

high quality for modern construction

in the country and in the region.

Xella Kosova L.L.C.

Rr. e Martirëve, p.n.

14000 Lipjan

Tel.: +381 38 580161

Fax: +381 38 580164

info.kosova@xella.com

www.kosova.xella.com

32


• It’s Good to Talk: Discussing the Challenges for Telecommunication and Transport

• All Roads Lead to Kosovo: the Government’s Main Target Is Upgrading the Road and

Rail Infrastructure

• Calling the Shots: Competition Is Bringing Increased Quality to the Sector

Transport & Communications

Kosovo’s geographical location is

very important but this

importance can only play a role if

the infrastructure is in place.”

Fatmir Limaj, Minister of Transport and Telecommunication


KOSOVO

Transport & Communications

Ministry of Transport and Telecommunication

Discussing the Challenges for

Transport

Infrastructure will set the foundation for Kosovo’s

economic growth with the Ministry of Transport and

Telecommunication leading the charge. Fatmir Limaj,

Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, knows

this only too well and here he talks to ET about the

challenges of rolling out infrastructure that will connect

Kosovo to the wider world. From PPPs to lobbying for

a country telephone code, the Ministry is meeting these

challenges head on.

Fatmir Limaj, Minister of Transport and Telecommunication

ET: How important are the transport and telecommunication

sectors for the development of Kosovo’s

economy?

F. Limaj: They are very important fields. As you

know, in the field of transport, we have inherited

poor infrastructure which has been compounded by

the destruction caused during the war. Therefore,

Kosovo’s government has given a high priority to

34


KOSOVO

Transport & Communications

Telecommunication and

investing in and developing the

road infrastructure because we

believe that stable and sustainable

infrastructure will be a precondition

for development and

integration. Kosovo’s geographical

location is very important but this

importance can only play a role if

the infrastructure is in place.

Within the country, we have

placed an emphasis on paving the

roads whether they be rural or

urban. Looking abroad, Kosovo is

a member of CETO through which

we are involved in route 6, which

will link Prishtina to Skopje in

Macedonia and then Montenegro

and route 7, which will link

Prishtina with Tirana in Albania

and Belgrade in Serbia. For route

7, one month ago, we published

an expression of interest for construction

from our western border

to Prishtina. For route 6, ten days

ago we selected a French company

to execute the project. Within the

next year, we believe that both

projects will be ready and construction

on the roads will begin.

In telecommunications, it is a

different situation. Until recently,

Kosovo was not recognised as a

country so we could not get our

own country code and internet

domain. Currently our two mobile

operators work through a Monaco

country code and a Slovenian

code. Now we are independent,

we believe it is time for us to get

our own code. However, to obtain

a code, we have to be an International

Telecommunications Union

(ITU) member which needs the

approval of two thirds of members.

We have not received this yet.

ET: When will this process be

completed?

F. Limaj: We don’t have a lot

of influence on this but we are

certainly working in this direction.

In November 2008, the ITU will

have its annual conference and we

hope that we can then achieve the

necessary result. It is important

to say that without this country

code, Kosovo will not be able to

develop.

ET: What incentives have been put

in place in order to attract foreign

investors?

F. Limaj: In transport, the

railroads connecting Prishtina

and Seranik provide some opportunities

for foreign investors. We

are also ready through PPPs to go

into concessions for the roads and

the aviation sector. In the region,

Prishtina Airport is quite an

attractive investment opportunity

and interest is high. Unfortunately,

when it comes to telecommunications,

it still is sort of untouchable

because of the ITU membership

issue.

ET: What are the main challenges

ahead for the transport and telecommunications

sectors?

F. Limaj: The main challenge for us

is our limited budget. We have to

overcome this by finding partners

to co-finance projects particularly

for the transportation sector. For

the telecommunications sector, I

would still say obtaining a country

code. I believe that the EU can

help a lot with this. Beyond these

challenges, it is important to

know that we are creating a legal

framework that is EU compliant.

ET: Given the negative connotations

associated with conflict in

the region, why should European

investors choose Kosovo as an

investment destination?

F. Limaj: Firstly, I believe that we

will serve their interests better

than other countries. European

investors do not need to check

the local laws because the laws

here are already up to European

standards. Kosovo also has its good

location, human resources and a

young population.

ET: What is your personal message

about the transport and telecommunications

sectors?

F. Limaj: Kosovo has entered the

second chapter of its development.

Until now, we have seen many

investments in Kosovo and a lot

of help and aid but if you want to

help the economy of Kosovo, it

is needed in infrastructure. This

is the link between Kosovo, the

region and the EU. Kosovo can

be very successful, and can be an

example to many countries that

are still in the transitional phase

to becoming a democratic and

free society.

35


KOSOVO

Transport & Communications

All Roads Lead to Kosovo:

Upgrading the Road and Rail

Since the end of the war in 1999, the

transport sector has become one of the

most critical areas for the rehabilitation

of the Kosovar economy. As the

arteries of the country, the roads and

rail networks have been earmarked

for significant investment by the

government. However, the country is

not simply taking a short term view

and is proactively following a policy

of aligning itself with EU transport

policy and integrating itself into the

wider European transport network.

Indeed,

infrastructural

development is key to connecting

Kosovo to the European

community. To this end, the

government has settled upon

the Public Private Partnership

(PPP) model to develop the

transport sector. Over the coming

years, the government will be

offering concessions for the

roads and aviation sectors. One

such project is Prishtina Airport

which has already received

€15.2 million in completed and

ongoing investments. The airport

is running well and recorded

estimated operating revenues

of €15.6 million in 2007 against

operating costs of €10.9 million.

These figures are projected to rise

for 2008 with estimated revenues

of €21.9 million against expenses

of €13.6 million.

Beyond the aviation sector, the

country has also received interest

from the European Bank for

Reconstruction and Development

(EBRD) for investment in the

country’s road network. Speaking

to the local press in May 2008,

Ahmet Shala, Minister of Economy

and Finance said that the EBRD

had expressed their interest. “Of

interest for them are two highways,

one that leads towards Albania

(Merdare-Morinë) and the other

one toward Macedonia (Prishtina-

Skopje). Very soon, a delegation

from the EBRD will arrive in Kosovo

and conduct a feasibility report for

these two projects,” he added.

Kosovo has a significant geographical

position for European

transport routes lying on two South

East Europe Transport Observatory

(SEETO) core road network routes

and one SEETO core rail network

36


KOSOVO

Transport & Communications

the Government’s Main Target Is

Infrastructure

route. For roads the routes in

question span 310 km and are

route 6 (Ribarevina in Montenegro

to Skopje in Macedonia) and route

7 (Lezhe in Albania to Doljevac

in Serbia) while for rail it lies on

route 10 (from Kraljevo in Serbia

to Gorce Petrov in Macedonia).

Consequently, the government has

made the development of route 6

and 7 a high priority as significant

transport arteries for the country

and the region connecting with

neighbouring capital cities.

While a recent Department of Road

Infrastructure (DRI) survey found

that 88% of primary roads and 74%

of the regional roads are in good

condition, there is still a significant

amount of investment needed to

upgrade the 8,000 km road network

in Kosovo. This includes the urban

transport network and infrastructure

which needs to meet the needs of a

growing population. In the period

2000-2005, €136 million was spent

on road infrastructure investments

and this looks set to increase in the

coming years. Indeed, in 2006 alone,

the government estimated that there

was a need for €70 million investment

in the road network. As the economy

grows, this is likely to become ever

more necessary with the motorisation

levels in the country rising from

their current levels of 105 passenger

cars per 1,000 persons towards the

EU average of 418 passenger cars per

1,000 persons.

However, the government is also

keen to ensure that the rail network

can meet the country’s passenger

and freight requirements. Kosovo

currently has a 333 km single

track non-electrified rail system

with standard gauge, which is in

good condition. The country will

be looking to expand its rolling

stock, however, which currently

consists of nine locomotives, four

Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs), ten

passenger carriages and 70 freight

wagons. As GDP continues to take

an upward turn, freight traffic in the

country has increased. Indeed, freight

carried by rail rose from 345,000

tonnes in 2006 to 588,000 tonnes

in 2007. Passenger numbers have

also risen in recent years climbing

by 4.25% between 2006 and 2007 to

417,000 passengers. Kosovo Railways

(KR) is also looking to expand their

services with a line opened between

Prishtina and Skopje and another

in the pipeline for commercial

passenger services to Peja. KR is also

considering an express train service

to Prishtina Airport.

Beyond investment and network

expansions, the government has

tried to bind itself to the European

regulatory environment. In June

2006, the UN Mission in Kosovo

(UNMIK) on behalf of Kosovo signed

the European Common Aviation

Area (ECAA) Agreement. The ECAA

provides the framework for a single

market for aviation covering 35

countries and 500 million people.

The agreement will gradually

extend complete European aviation

legislation to all its members. In

June 2004, UNMIK also signed an

MOU on the Development of the

South East Europe Core Regional

Transport Network (SEECRTN)

which will provide a unified strategy

for regional transport policy in South

East Europe.

The future of Kosovo is therefore

firmly embedded within regional

policies on transport. To achieve

this, however, the country will need

to upgrade its transport network

through a series of PPP investments.

Indeed, future growth in the sector

will be fuelled by the private sector.

37


KOSOVO

Transport & Communications

Kosovo Railways

Railway Network Offers

Significant Investment Potential

Kosovo Railways, which administers

the country’s rail network, has been

achieving improved financial results

but requires significant additional

investment. Xhevat Ramosaj,

Managing Director since 2006,

explains that Kosovo Railways has been

a joint stock company since 2005 and

that it has developed a new strategy of

putting clients first, in both passenger

service and freight transport.

The company achieved profits of

€500,000 in 2006 and €1.6 million

in 2007. It transported 401,487

passengers and 345,287 net tonnes

of goods in 2006, and 417,193

passengers and 588,680 net tonnes

of goods last year. Kosovo Railways

is also developing more ties with

the private sector and earlier this

year signed a concession agreement

with Konet to install commercial

optical fibre cables throughout the

railway network.

Xhevat Ramosaj, Managing Director

Kosovo’s rail system, heavily damaged

during the war years, needs significant

investment in order to meet the

country’s growing needs. Xhevat

Ramosaj points out that investment

is required in railway infrastructure,

railway operations, and rolling stock.

There is still a lot of work to be done,

but we are surviving as a transport

company,” he says.

Significant growth predicted

Xhevat Ramosaj is very positive

about the future of Kosovo Railways.

He says, “The privatisation process

is ongoing and is resulting in new

companies that will most likely use

our transport services. One example

is the Trepca mining complex.

Kosovo Railways has already signed

a transport contract with Newco Ferronickeli,

a nickle plant. Another

issue with regards to our future

growth is the political issue with

Serbia. We expect this to be solved in

the near future.”

Because of political problems with

Serbia, all Kosovo’s EU-bound

freight rail traffic must pass through

Macedonia. Resolving problems

with Serbia would lead to great

growth opportunities for Kosovo

Railways. The company has placed

a high priority on developing its

north-south line connecting Serbia

and Macedonia via Kosovo, and is

also developing its passenger traffic.

Kosovo Railways welcomes foreign

investment. Xhevat Ramosaj cites

freight transport, a potential rail

link with Prishtina’s international

airport, additional connections in

South Eastern Kosovo, and rail links

between private companies and main

rail lines as projects with significant

potential for foreign investors.

Kosovo’s new transport policy will

be launched at the end of 2008,

which is expected to spur on the

development of Kosovo Railways.

The new policy will set development

targets, create new incentives for

investors, and focus on linking

Kosovo’s rail network with the EU.

Kosovo Railways J.S.C

Str. Sheshi i Lirise,

12000 Fushe Kosove

Republic of Kosovo

Tel.: +381 38 536 307

Fax: +381 38 536 355

www.kosovorailway.com

38


KOSOVO

Transport & Communications

Kosova Airlines

Kosova Airlines Seeking Partners to

Achieve Ambitious Growth Plans

Kosova Airlines, established in 2003

and headquartered in Prishtina,

is seeing steady growth in turnover

and has ambitious plans to expand

its route network and services,

according to Remzi Ejupi, CEO,

who founded the airline to provide

services in Kosovo.

The airline, which works through

partner airlines and also serves

as Kosovo’s top travel agency, has

boosted its turnover by an average

3% to 5% per year since 2006 and

anticipates around €60 million in

turnover this year. Kosova Airlines

owns a 20% share of Hamburg

International via its German Distribution

Partner Eurokoha Reisen

GmbH. Most flights go to Germany

and Switzerland and the airline has

established hubs in Dusseldorf,

Stuttgart, Munich and Zurich for

connections throughout the region

and beyond. This year it launched a

new direct flight between Prishtina

and Basel, Switzerland.

Remzi Ejupi, President

In its role as an airline, Kosova

Airlines offers flights via partner

carriers between Prishtina and New

York; Zurich, Basel and Geneva

(Hello and Edelweiss Air); Stuttgart

(Germanwings and Air Berlin);

Dusseldorf (Air Berlin); Cologne/

Bonn and Hamburg (Germanwings);

Munich (Hamburg International);

Frankfurt and Hanover (Air Berlin);

and Antalya (Atlasjet and Sun

Express).

Expanding route network

Albania, Italy, Vienna, London and

Brussels are all destinations Remzi

Ejupi would like to add to Kosova

Airlines’ route network. Remzi Ejupi

says, “There is significant potential

for routes between Kosovo and

neighbouring countries, including

Albania. Currently we offer flights

to Turkey only during the summer

season so we see growth there as well,

particularly for year-round flights for

business customers.” Kosova Airlines

offers flights between Germany and

Macedonia during the high tourist

season and would like to extend its

Macedonia service by offering flights

between Macedonia and Switzerland.

It would also like to increase the

number of flights to its established

destinations.

The airline welcomes partnerships

with international companies

and investors to help it achieve its

growth plans. “We are experienced

enough to know that we cannot do

everything on our own, so we are

looking for partnerships, and I have

already made some contacts. We have

a great deal to offer, including more

long-haul passengers for a partner

company,” Remzi Ejupi says.

Kosova Airlines also aims to help

jump-start Kosovo’s tourism industry

by providing more flights between

Kosovo and key European destinations

and by forming partnerships

with major European tour operators,

including in Albania, which Remzi

Ejupi sees as a growth market. He

concludes, “We aim to focus on

our core activities and to become

a leading airline in Kosovo and

throughout the region.”

Kosova Airlines

Vellusha e Poshtme 17

10000 Prishtina

Kosovo

Tel.: +381 38 24 44 44

Fax: +381 38 24 91 86

www.kosovaairlines.com

www.flyksa.com

39


Calling the Shots: Competition Is

Bringing Increased Quality to the Sector

As a crucial component of Kosovo’s

infrastructure roll out, the telecommunications

and IT sector

has already seen unprecedented

investment which is set to increase

yet further. Internet and mobile

penetration are growing rapidly

in the nascent country with a

highly qualified and youthful

demographic providing both a

receptive consumer base and a

potential high skilled workforce

for outsourcing operations.

The telecommunications sector

is home to the country’s largest

company by capital and to some of

the most prominent investments.

The incumbent operator in

Kosovo is the Post and Telecommunication

Kosovo (PTK) which is

responsible for Post of Kosovo, the

fixed line operator, Telecoms of

Kosovo, and the mobile operator,

Vala. PTK, which is a public

enterprise under the aegis of the

Kosovo Trust Agency has 107,000

landline users and, through its

subsidiary Vala, 830,000 mobile

users. Furthermore, the company

is Kosovo’s most profitable with an

estimated value of approximately

€1.3 billion.

If more evidence were needed for

the great strides forward that the

country has made, one only need to

look at the penetration levels in the

telecommunications sector. Internet

penetration in Kosovo had hit 15%

by the final quarter of 2005 putting

it on a par with Turkey and above

more established regional players

such as Romania and Albania. In

2007, this was given a further boost

with the launch of PTK’s broadband

package, ‘PTK ADSL’. The service

had approximately 10,000 customers

or a 25-30% market share by 2008

with Ipko Net and Kujtesa being the

other market players. The country

also had a mobile penetration rate

of 35% in June 2007, a significant

40


KOSOVO

Transport & Communications

figure considering the brevity of the

industry in Kosovo. Nevertheless, this

provides extremely good potential

for rapid growth.

From a network point of view, PTK

is already well placed to absorb this

growth. Vala’s mobile network has

been rolled out over approximately

90% of the country. The company

also has 127 roaming agreements

for post-paid customers showing

its intent to expand its international

network. On the fixed line

segment, Ipko Net, the country’s

largest internet provider has rolled

out an extensive broadband network

which has far-reaching population

coverage.

However, the country is not resting

on its laurels. 2007 saw PTK’s

monopoly of the mobile segment

come to an end when Ipkonet

Telekom Slovijne/Mobitel won the

second operator mobile license

for €75 million. The consortium

announced their intention

immediately with investment in

its network which is expected to

reach €120 million by the time

roll out is complete. One of the

first contracts for the GSM network

went to Ericsson Nikola Tesla

which won a €37 million contract

for the supply, implementation

and operation of the GSM communications

and transmission system.

While Ipkonet Telekom Slovijne/

Mobitel will initially concentrate

on achieving coverage in Kosovo’s

dense urban areas, labelled the

Kosovo city ring, it expects to

achieve full network coverage

within three years. Indeed, the

consortium has ambitious plans

hoping to capture a 50% market

share by 2012 and approximately 1

million GSM customers by 2015.

However, competition is likely to

be stiff with the state planning to

privatise the incumbent operator

Vala in the near future. Indeed,

with a young, educated, technologically

savvy population, penetration

rates on both voice and data should

shoot up over the coming years.

This young work force, which has

a competitive cost advantage over

many neighbouring countries, will

also allow Kosovo to position itself

as an outsourcing hub following

a model similar to the one so successfully

employed by Bulgaria.

Currently, public and private institutions

in the field of information

technology, supported by leading

multinational firms such as CISCO

and Microsoft, are being rolled

out across the country supporting

the development of a knowledge

and high-tech economy. Initially,

Kosovo is certainly well placed

to develop the full spectrum of

outsourcing operations including

software development, data

management, call and support

centres and other consulting

services.

The government realises that to

achieve these aims the regulatory

and legal framework has to be in

place. To this end, the Telecommunication

Regulatory Authority

(TRA) has been working on

licensing, encouraging private

sector participation and ensuring

fair competition. While the country

is still in the process of receiving

recognition from the International

Telecommunications Union (ITU)

which will allow the country to

register a telephone country code

and internet domain name, much

of the ground work has been done

to provide fertile soil for further

investment.

Indeed, the telecommunications

sector should provide unbounded

opportunities for investment in

the coming years. Indeed, once the

country reaches market saturation

on voice and data, the country

should be in a good position to

offer fixed-mobile convergence

and bring the next generation of

services to a hungry market.

41


KOSOVO

Transport & Communications

IPKO

Dynamic Telecom Provider Aims to

Offer One-Stop Integrated Services

IPKO won the €75 million tender

for the second mobile telecom services

license in Kosovo last year, one more

success story for this dynamic telecom

enterprise. IPKO offers a full range

of integrated services and content

for mobile communications, fixed

telephony and the Internet.

After only eight years of

operations, it already serves

around one million customers

in Kosovo and is the country’s

top telecom investor. IPKO has

already invested over €200 million

to date in building a cutting-edge

GSM network covering 80% of the

country, with financial support

from the European Investment

Bank. Telekom Slovenia has a

63.75% share in the company.

CEO Akan Ismaili explains that

IPKO earned a 35% share of the

mobile services market and was

providing mobile telecom services

to over 300,000 customers in less

than nine months after its launch of

mobile services last year. IPKO is not

only the biggest foreign investment

in Kosovo to date but also Slovenia’s

biggest investment abroad. “This

shows not only Telekom Slovenia’s

commitment to Kosovo but also its

faith in the potential of the Kosovar

market,” he says.

Mobile telecom penetration in

Kosovo is currently around 50%

and IPKO aims to boost that

percentage.

Akan Ismaili, CEO

Prior to mobile, IPKO has heavily

invested in the fixed network. Now

it operates a fixed network in the

main cities and towns of Kosovo,

reaching over 150,000 residences.

The company also has 52,000

broadband subscribers.

IPKO’s competitive edge is its

winning combination of state-ofthe-art

solutions, the latest technologies,

a wide range of packages,

added value services, quality,

reliability, security, and solid user

support 24/7.

Reliable telecom service in

Kosovo and beyond

Mobile services will be the main

driver of IPKO’s continued growth

in Kosovo, but that is not the whole

story. “We want IPKO to become a

one-stop shop for integrated telecommunications

services,” Akan

Ismaili explains, adding that IPKO

also plans to invest in the fibre

optic connections with very high

capacities to regional and international

hubs. He points out that

through Telekom Slovenia, IPKO

already offers reliable telecom

connections throughout Europe.

As for the future, Akan Ismaili

explains, “We are here to provide

services, but at the same time we

are open minded about any new

partnerships.”

He adds, “IPKO is an initiator

of development within Kosovo’s

telecom sector. We see ourselves

as setting the standard for doing

business successfully in this

market.”

Mother Theresa Street

RTK Building, 5th floor

Prishtina

KOSOVO

Tel.: +381 38 700 010

Fax: +381 38 700 001

www.ipko.com

42


• Talking Shop: The Ministry Talks About Producing More Goods for Market

The Lie of the Land: The Government Is Overseeing the Commercialisation

of the Country’s Farms

Agriculture & Food Industry

“My opinion is that investors

should look at Kosovo because

we have a young population that

wants to work and for less money

than in other EU countries.”

Idriz Vehapi, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development


KOSOVO

Agriculture & Food Industry

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development

Talking Shop: The Ministry

More Goods for Market

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural

Development is charged with overseeing the crucial

transition from largely subsistence rural farming to a

modern industrialised agricultural sector. The Ministry

has long been working with UNMIK to achieve these

goals and since independence has stepped up its efforts

to attract foreign investment to the potentially lucrative

sector. In parallel to such incentives, the Ministry is coordinating

its efforts with the European Union to ensure

that legislation and regulations governing the sector are

harmonised with the EU’s standards.

Idriz Vehapi, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development

Here, ET talks to Idriz Vehapi, the Minister of

Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, about

the future of agriculture in newly independent

Kosovo. From wine-making to land consolidation

and employment generation, Mr. Vehapi believes

that agriculture will play a vital and prominent role

in the future economic success of his country.

ET: How important is the agricultural sector for the

economy of Kosovo?

I. Vehapi: The agriculture sector is a very important

part of Kosovo’s economic development, not least

because of the fact that more than 50% of the

population of Kosovo lives in rural areas. Moreover,

the majority of this population is young, so this

means that agriculture can provide a firm basis for

economic growth. However, we recognise that in the

future other sectors will develop and that less people

44


KOSOVO

Agriculture & Food Industry

Talks About Producing

will be involved in agriculture. For example, in the

UK, a small percentage of the population is involved

in agriculture now and a similar trend will also take

place here in Kosovo.

ET: Tell me a little bit about the development that

has taken place in the sector since the declaration

of independence in 2008?

I. Vehapi: Before the declaration of independence

there was the new election, in which the future Prime

Minister made agriculture one of his campaign

priorities. Subsequently, after the declaration of

independence, we laid out our agricultural priorities

for our donors. Within this program, the new prime

minister has made agriculture an absolute priority

which was stressed at the Donors Conference in

Brussels. Of course, there are also private investors

from Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy,

and other European countries interested in Kosovo’s

agricultural sector.

ET: What is the most important role that European

investors can play in Kosovo’s agriculture sector?

I. Vehapi: We need them to bring technology and

know-how but also the finance for new initiatives. On

top of this, we are looking to develop commercial

farms endowed with modern technology, higher

yields and higher efficiency so that labour can be put

to work in other sectors. Most importantly, Kosovo

wants to make it as easy as possible for outside

private investors to invest in the agriculture sector.

We already have some commitments to invest in the

agriculture sector, primarily from private investors,

because agriculture is one of the top five sectors of

Kosovo’s economy.

ET: What challenges do you see ahead for the

agriculture sector?

I. Vehapi: Firstly, the most important challenge is that

the farms are very small and thus less competitive

and profitable than those in neighbouring countries.

Therefore, the main challenge is land consolidation

which will create larger farms in the future. Beyond

this, Kosovo needs more capacity in processing agricultural

products. Also, food storage is an issue as

currently farming is determined by the seasons. This

is certainly one area where investors can get a high

return on investment.

ET: How do you plan to confront these challenges?

I. Vehapi: First of all, these challenges are certainly

a priority. Bigger farms are necessary to compete

and achieve the necessary productivity. To this end,

we always advise our farmers to unite in associations

and cooperatives to be stronger.

ET: How do European investors look at the

investment opportunities with regard to this

consolidation?

I. Vehapi: For land consolidation, one of the main

investors was the World Bank and EU which is also

investing in the irrigation system. Since the consolidation

and irrigation are our priorities, we

increased our budget regarding these two areas.

The investments in these sectors will create opportunities

for farms to be more competitive which will

attract foreign investors. We have a target of 70,000

hectares and so far 12,000 have been recovered.

ET: Why should Europeans invest in Kosovo rather

than neighbouring countries?

I. Vehapi: My opinion is that investors should look at

Kosovo because we have a young population that wants

to work and for less money than in other EU countries.

So it is a low-wage country compared to neighbouring

countries. However, at the same time, we have an

educated workforce, a significant percentage of which

has studied and lived abroad. Most of them would like

to work here, which is a great opportunity for foreign

companies wanting to set up business here.

45


KOSOVO

Agriculture & Food Industry

Lay of the Land: The Government Is

Overseeing the Commercialisation of

the Country’s Farms

Agriculture has always played a

prominent role in Kosovo’s economy.

With more than half a million

hectares of cultivable land and 60%

of the population living in rural

areas, the country is well set up for

further investment in this crucial

sector. With the ongoing privatisation

process, Kosovo’s larger farms,

under the stewardship of the Kosovo

Trust Agency, present particularly

good opportunities for investment.

The government has laid out

a detailed strategy to further

stimulate agricultural development

in the country. After assessing

the topographical and climate

conditions in the country, the

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and

Rural Development will be targeting

high value crops such as fruit and

vegetables. The government is

also keen to make the transition

from a largely subsistence base

to a commercial base with the

development of the land market

to increase the size of farms.

Moreover, the ministry hopes

to develop knowledge transfer

that will raise the productivity of

the land. In parallel with these

practical measures, the country will

be looking to bring its legal and

regulatory framework in line with

the highest EU standards.

With over 250,000 hectares of

meadow and grassland, Kosovo is

well placed to expand its agricultural

base. Currently, grains such

as wheat and maize account for the

largest share of the sector in terms of

land use. However, the government

is keen to re-align the focus to fruit

and vegetables which presently

account for just over 38,000 hectares

of arable land.

Kosovo’s viticulture industry is well

established. The public sector has

a wine processing capacity of 112

million litres while the private sector

processes approximately 30,000

litres. The government is also looking

to revitalise its livestock production

industry so that the country can

become increasingly self-sufficient

in meat and dairy production.

For all segments of the agricultural

sector, the government has provided

incentives to bring further investment

to the country. Most agricultural

inputs and capital goods are tariff free

which is supported by VAT exemption

for a wide range of agricultural

inputs. The government hopes that

this will increase production dramatically

allowing the country to become

a significant agricultural exporter.

This is no pipe dream. Kosovo has

a series of competitive advantages

in the agricultural field including

high yields and cheap labour. With

local production currently only

covering 30% of domestic demand,

the potential for growth is sizable.

The stimulation of the sector should

allow the government to both bring

down its reliance on imports as well

as create a liberal environment to

become a major agricultural exporter

to the EU.

46


KOSOVO

Agriculture & Food Industry

Peja Brewery

Market-Leading Local Brewery

Expanding Regionally

Peja Brewery has carved out a 70%

share of the local beer market thanks

to its high quality beers made with

cutting edge techniques.

As Sebastjan Gergeta, acting

General Manager, explains, the

brewery was founded in 1971

and acquired in 2006 by leading

Slovenian Pivovarna Laško Group

and local Kosovar investors,

mainly Dukagjini Group’s owner

Ekrem Lluka. “After the €11

million privatisation tender, we

invested around €12-13 million

in upgrading the brewery’s

facilities, equipment, technologies

and marketing. Now we are

a very well known brewery with a

very well known brand. Any new

product we introduce will most

likely be a success,” he says.

Thanks to its upgrades, the

brewery has increased the shelf

life of its beer from three weeks to

six months. It has been reinvesting

revenues but hopes to make a

profit next year and anticipates

an average 10% growth over the

coming five years.

Peja aims to expand to markets

beyond Kosovo, since it has not yet

reached full production capacity

and believes that the Kosovar

market will not be able to keep up

with the brewery’s growth. Peja

already has agreements with distributors

in Montenegro, Serbia

and Macedonia but its main focus

next year will be Albania, where it

aims to boost sales by 5% to 6%.

“We are welcome everywhere and

present in every market in the

region,” Sebastjan Gergeta says

proudly.

Signficant investment

potential

Peja Brewery offers very attractive

investment potential. “European

portfolio investors, including

smaller investors, and funding

organisations are very welcome.

We are a very transparent company

and we would repay the faith that

any European institution has in

us,” Sebastjan Gergeta says. He

adds that new investments will go

toward expanding the brewery’s

product lines and continuing to

upgrade its technologies. Around

€15 million over the next five

years will be needed to bring the

brewery fully up to EU standards.

Peja would also like to partner

with distributors, suppliers and

consultants in Western Europe.

The brewery’s successful

partnership with Slovenia’s top

breweries, Pivovarna Laško and

Pivovarna Union, gives it an edge.

“We have the necessary know-how,

financing and guarantees, as well

as people who know the business.

Our 70% market share, which we

aim to boost to 80%, gives us a

virtual monopoly in Kosovo and we

Sebastjan Gergeta, acting General Manager

have basically taken over the distribution

system,” Sebastjan Gergeta

explains. He adds, “Investors

interested in Kosovo should work

with a strong local partner.”

Peja Brewery

30000 Peje, Kosovo

Tel.: +381 39 432 661

Fax: +381 39 433 989

47


KOSOVO

Agriculture & Food Industry

Meridian Corporation

Dynamic Group Welcomes Joint

Venture Partners

The Meridian Corporation offers

outstanding potential for foreign

investors. The family-owned group

with 170 employees was relaunched

after the war in 1999 and has

since achieved significant growth.

Meridian has operations in 12

locations and is one of Kosovo’s

biggest distributors of beverages and

foods, including fresh and frozen

foods as well as organic products and

international brands of beverages.

Meridian works with over 4,000

vendors in Kosovo, including retail

chains, supermarkets, drug stores

and the HoReCa (hotel, restaurant

and catering) sector.

The Meridian group includes foods

and beverages divisions, Montazhi

(construction), and Energoinvest

(energy activities). “Montazhi

is known for its construction of

both residential and commercial

buildings as well as electrical installations,

heating and cooling systems,

and water and waste treatment

facilities. Energoinvest produces

electrical equipment, transformer

Hakif Gashi, CEO

stations and more. We acquired both

companies a couple of years ago and

now we are looking for partners and

joint ventures,” explains CEO Hakif

Gashi.

Meridian is especially interested in a

joint venture in the fast growing food

and beverages sector since the group

already has the necessary facilities,

resources and building land. “We are

looking for a partner who can start up

food and beverage production with

us,” Hakif Gashi explains. Meridian

eventually plans to expand its

thriving food and beverage distribution

beyond Kosovo, to Macedonia,

Montenegro, Albania and Serbia.

Significant potential in energy

sector

Both Montazhi and Energoinvest

offer strong growth potential as

well. Hakif Gashi points out, “Energoinvest

has the most potential

because Kosovo’s energy sector is

very undeveloped. We anticipate

significant growth in the near future.

We are looking for joint ventures

and partners that can help us take

Energoinvest and Montazhi to the

next level concerning technology,

know-how, experience, access to

new markets, and financing.” Energoinvest

has already served Kosovo

Electrical Corporation (KEK),

private companies, power plants and

several mines.

Kosovo has outstanding prospects,

Hakif Gashi believes, and Meridian

is the ideal local partner for

investors. He says, “Meridian offers

future partners a creative and

capable management, dedicated

and motivated employees, efficient

business processes and structure, a

well-established local presence with

expeditious and qualitative services,

17 hectares of building land, and

construction capacity. In addition,

doing business is not a problem in

Kosovo. We have the same standards

and values as in the EU and we hope

our ties with the EU will grow even

stronger in the future.”

Meridian Corporation LL.C

Bul. ‘ Bill Clinton’, p.n

Zona industriale

10000 Prishtina, Kosovo

Tel.: + 381 38 541 521

Fax: + 381 38 541 524

meridian@meridian-ks.com

www.meridian-ks.com

48


• Infrastructure Development: The Minister Has Ambitious Plans to Improve the

Country’s Infrastructure

• A New Power Plant and Untapped Coal Reserves Are Set to Electrify the Industry

• Mine Games: A Growth in Exploration and Mining Licenses Should Usher in

Explosive Growth

Energy & Mining

“Looking at the mining sector

specifically, there is great potential

to mine gold, copper and nickel

amongst other nitrate deposits. On

top of this, ongoing exploration

continues to unearth new deposits.”

Justina Shiroka-Pula, Minister of Energy and Mining


Justina Shiroka-Pula, Minister of Energy and Mining

The Ministry of Energy and Mining in Kosovo has been dealt a mixed hand.

On the one hand, the country has almost unlimited potential in this sector with

rich deposits especially in lignite and in variety of metal minerals such as Lead

and Zinc, Ferronickel, Bauxite, Magnesite, Chrome, Copper, Gold and Silver to

the rather rare and high value halloysite clay. On the other, much work needs to

be done to upgrade the country’s energy infrastructure. However, the Ministry

remains undaunted by this task and has ambitious plans to transform the country

from a net electricity importer to a net electricity exporter over the coming decade.

50


KOSOVO

Energy & Mining

Ministry of Energy and Mining

Infrastructure Development: The

Minister Has Ambitious Plans to

Improve the Country’s Infrastructure

Indeed, whether you look at the country’s mineral deposits

and mining capabilities or the requirements for power plant

roll out and an increase in capacity of many hundreds of

Mega Watt (MW), it is abundantly clear that the prospects

for investment in the country are strong. The government is

keen not to squander these opportunities and is offering a

variety of methods to get the most efficient, cost effective and

value added use out of these deposits and infrastructure.

In the mining sector, mines can either be acquired through

the ongoing privatisation process or re-energised and

re-modelled by entering joint ventures with private owners.

In the energy sector, Kosovo has embarked upon the path

to a new power plant called Power Plant New Kosovo, and

an associated lignite mine which when completed will be

the largest ever private investment in Kosovo’s history.

The government has set the ambitious target of starting

operations in the first unit of the new plant in the period

starting from 2013 to 2014. It becomes clear why this is such

a pressing concern when one contemplates that Kosovo

would increase its GDP by an estimated 17% or 220 million

with the addition of a further 1,000 MW to its capacity in this

short period.

The prospective growth for the country through this sector

is therefore clear. Here, ET, talks to Minister of Energy

and Mining, Justina Pula-Shiroka, about the opportunities

and challenges facing the sector. From the relative

values of established mines to untapped mineral deposits

and exploration, Justina Pula-Shiroka sees a central role

for mining in Kosovo’s future. The Minister also talks

about what makes Kosovo such an attractive proposition

which goes beyond resources beneath the earth to those

above it, namely human resources and the young dynamic

population.

ET: How important is the mining sector for Kosovo’s

economic development in general?

J. Pula-Shiroka: The mining sector is a key sector for the

development of Kosovo. Kosovo is very rich in minerals and

has a long experience in the mining industry which helps

to attract many investors. Moreover, we are offering to the

interested companies several incentives to enter the Kosovo

market. We have several old, pre-existing, functioning

mines with over a numerous qualified mine workers and

employees. One of these has already been privatised. The

mining sector has attracted considerable British and US

investors and is open to foreign investment.

ET: What are the major challenges facing the mining

industry?

J. Pula-Shiroka: Well, we had a problem with the older

mines where the licenses had passed their expiration date.

Some of these mines were also in need of restoration.

However, having said that, with regard to the older mines,

we expect the levels of interest to be higher because they are

more attractive for investment given that they are already

established and have an operating history. We believe the

time will come when these mines receive the necessary

investment. Some of them are very promising for investors

as they have higher returns.

ET: What are the planned investments for the next

five years?

J. Pula-Shiroka: The government is planning

development of several interest zones of metallic mines.

Actually, there are ongoing activities in preparing

feasibility studies for these interest zones, in order to

follow-up with respective bidding procedures.

ET: What would be your personal message to our

European investors?

J. Pula-Shiroka: The European investors are definitely

very welcomed in Kosovo. I am certain that they

will encounter here friendly social and business

environment. I am sure too that they will find here

more competitive prices than elsewhere in region,

and transparent procedures of bidding. I am glad to

remind the interested parties that we have here well

educated young population, skilled in communication

skills, particularly with English speaking people.

Looking at the mining sector specifically, there is

great potential to mine lead and zinc, gold, copper

and nickel amongst other nitrate deposits. On top of

this, ongoing exploration continues to unearth new

deposits.

51


KOSOVO

Energy & Mining

A New Power Plant and Untapped

Coal Reserves Are Set to Electrify

the Industry

As the country looks to move forward following the boon

of independence in February 2008, energy has been

earmarked as a key piece of Kosovo’s development jigsaw.

Indeed, since the turn of the century, the international

community through the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

has been working with the Kosovo Energy Corporation

(KEK) to help the country meet its energy needs and

rebuild its utilities infrastructure. The state now wants

to build on this to exploit its abundant resources of

lignite to power the country’s future development.

As part of this process, the Ministry of Energy has

drafted a 10 year energy strategy that lays out the

supply and demand dynamics of the sector up until

2015. With estimated lignite reserves of between 11.5

billion and 14 billion tonnes, representing the fifth

largest reserves in the world, the government is well

placed to meet the residential and industrial energy

requirements over the coming decade.

Currently, KEK runs two power plants Kosovo A and

Kosovo B. The plants are not currently running at full

design capacity but provide approximately 7,000MW to

the country. This falls short of peak demand requirements

with the government importing up to 400MW of

electricity during the winter months. Kosovo, however,

is working hard to bridge this deficit. The government

is in the planning stage for Kosovo C and an associated

lignite mine, which will bring the phased introduction

of 2,000MW to both the local market and also to the

electricity grid of South East Europe. The ambitious

plan to move from being a net importer of electricity

to becoming a net exporter is expected to be launched

between 2012 and 2014.

With a projected GDP growth of 9% between 2009 and

2015 and investments worth €14.488 billion, the country

will desperately need this capacity expansion to fuel

this economic growth especially in the manufacturing

sector. Moreover, the extra capacity will give the country

an export capability of between 300-500MW helping to

ease current deficits. Indeed, this surplus energy may

translate into as much as €150 million worth of exports

after 2012. Indeed, even with the Ministry of Energy’s

high growth scenario of an annual increase in demand

of 5.5%, the country would still have surplus energy

upon the completion of Kosovo C.

Therefore, although much work needs to be done to

build on the pre-independence infrastructure, the

government is well placed to roll out extra capacity which

will position Kosovo as a major player in the South East

European energy market. As such, and with voluminous

lignite reserves, the future looks bright both metaphorically

and literally.

53


Mine Games: An Increase in

Exploration and Mining Licenses

Should Usher in Explosive Growth

Kosovo has rich potential in the

mining sector which has been the

mainstay of the country’s economy for

centuries. With bountiful untapped

reserves, the sector is positioned for a

dramatic increase in production and

revenues. Indeed, recognising the

potential, the government is actively

working to privatise the mining

sector and present opportunities for

foreign investment in exploration

and production.

54


KOSOVO

Energy & Mining

Kosovo’s mineral reserves speak for themselves. With

estimated lignite reserves of 14.7 billion tonnes, the

country has the second largest discovered coal deposits

on the European continent and the fifth largest

lignite reserves in the world. The quality of this coal

is also impressive with an exploitation cost of €1.1/

Gj. This marks it out as the most price competitive

in the region. Beyond coal, the country also benefits

from rich mineral and base metal deposits. Kosovo is

estimated to have lead and zinc reserves amounting

to 48 million tonnes as well as nickel deposits of

16 million tonnes. Chrome reserves are estimated

to number 89 million tonnes while known Bauxite

reserves are in the region of 13.2 million tonnes.

The country can also count on significant reserves of

gold, silver, copper and magnesium. The government

estimates that the last of these is found in enough

quantities to last 100 years.

This all bodes well for Kosovo’s future economic

success given the current price trends for these

metals and minerals. Although lead prices have fallen

in 2008, they had still maintained a price of well over

€800 in the second half of 2008. Likewise, Nickel

prices were still reasonably strong remaining above

the €8,400 mark in November 2008. This suggests

that Kosovo can garner significant revenue from these

base metals alone. On top of this, the government

recently discovered 3mt of high-grade halloysite at

Farbani Potok. The importance of this should not be

underestimated given the fact that this is only one of

five exploitable sites globally where such high grade

clay, with a value of €112-360 per tonne, has been

discovered. Moreover, current world production only

stands at 150,000 tonnes per year. This suggests that

Kosovo is well placed to exploit its mineral reserves.

However, the country is at the beginning of the process

of taking advantage of this latent wealth. In 2005, the

EU pillar established the Independent Commission for

Mines and Minerals (ICMM), a regulatory body which

is charged with monitoring and attracting investment

to the sector. ICMM has a broad remit which includes

the issuing and relocation of exploration and mining

licenses and special operation permits. It also issues

permits for commercial exploitation in the mining

industry as well as taking responsibility for the

expansion of the mining packages, the collection of

information, distributing information to investors,

and monitoring reserves through GIS surveys.

According to Azem Rexhaj, Director of the ICMM, “We

think that the mining sector is the key to Kosovo’s future

development. Kosovo is very rich with minerals. Also if

you look at it from an investment point of view, every

week we have three or four private investors coming

here to evaluate the possibilities to invest here. Kosovo

also has a long experience in the mining industry. The

Trepca Mining Complex has been here since Roman

times. What’s more, in 2006 we did a new geological

survey and the results showed that Kosovo has much

more to offer than the Trepca mines.”

Indeed, although the Trepca mines are Kosovo’s most

famous, the country has abundant reserves spread

throughout the country. However, the Trepca mines,

whose lead and zinc deposits are mainly located in the

east of the country, are among the initial priorities

of the government in the mining sector. The Trepca

metallurgical complexes, with significant deposits

of lead, zinc and silver, were the largest mining

operation in the former Yugoslavia and the Kosovo

government wants to re-establish their prominence.

It is believed that an investment of approximately

€200 million will be required to revitalise the mines.

Currently, production operations are only running at

a test level.

The Trepca management currently has plans, in the

first phase, to attract private investors to create new

investment opportunities for public private joint

ventures (JV). At a second stage, it is envisaged that

full scale privatisation will take place to provide

efficient company management and the market power

to pursue investment in value-added zinc products.

The ICMM is working hard to attract foreign

investment in this respect and in the mining industry

55


KOSOVO

Energy & Mining

more generally. During 2007, a total of 70 exploration and

mining licenses were issued with the country’s explosive

security system (ESS) fully up to NATO standards and

under the control of the ICMM’s mining inspectorate.

The revenue generated from these licenses is crucial

to the country’s budget. In 2007, mining royalties and

other fees amounted to an estimated €2 million.

However, this is not a short-term revenue stream.

“According to the law a company gets an exploration

license for the first 2 years, and then they can apply

for an extension for another two years. However, then

the licensed area will be reduced by 50%. They [the

company] have the possibility to extend the license

three times,” explains Azem Rexhaj. “Within these six

years they will have to get the mining license and start

mining or they will lose the license. This is so nobody

loses their money because exploration costs are very

high. Because of these rules we think that in the next

five years we will have a minimum of three new mines in

the beginning stages of operation and this will for sure

continue,” he adds.

There has already been a significant level of interest

in licenses. A series of international companies have

entered the Kosovo market on an exploratory basis.

For example, Lydian Resources of the UK has three

exploration licenses for projects in Drazne amongst

other places. North American companies have also

received exploration licenses with the initial exploration

being so promising that many international companies

have applied for the full mining licenses.

Beyond this, the government has worked on a number

of privatisations. The mining sector has seven Socially

Owned Enterprises (SOEs) that will be presented for

privatisation. The Ferronikel Company, which stopped

mining as a consequence of conflict in the area,

provides a highly profitable opportunity for investment.

The ferronickel reserves are significant and the mine is

connected to the railway giving good access to import

additional ore concentrates through Thessaloniki port

and Albania. It also provides good opportunities for

export and employment generation.

The country is therefore well placed to position itself as

a leading producer and exporter of minerals and metals

for the whole region. Beyond lignite, which will play a

vital role in powering the local energy market, Kosovo can

draw on its substantial reserves of base metals which are

continuing to command significant prices on the interna-

tional market. Therefore, the government is confident of

building effective synergies with the private sector which

will benefit the country and investors alike.

56


KOSOVO

Energy & Mining

Lydian International

Mineral Exploration and Development

Group Confident About Kosovo

Lydian International is a British

Exploration and Development

Company listed on the Toronto Stock

Exchange. Lydian is confident about

prospects in Kosovo, where it’s wholly

owned subsidiary Kosovo Resource

Company (KRC) has an advanced

zinc, lead, silver exploration project

in Drazhnje, as well as exploration

projects in Crepulje and Rahovec.

Tim Coughlin, CEO, says that

KRC now accounts for around

35% of Lydian’s project budget,

with the remainder devoted to

Lydian’s exploration initiative

in Armenia. KRC’s operation in

Drazhnje should begin commercial

production in 2011. “Once you

advance a project like this to the

point at which it is feasible and

bankable, which requires a lot of

exploration work, you then move

to debt financing and construction

can begin. All our projects in

Kosovo are relatively early stage yet

Tim Coughlin, CEO

Workers from Lydian’s local mining contractor

Stone International underground at Drazhnje.

interesting for our investors since

they show real potential for growth,”

he says.

Coughlin adds that while global metal

prices are always a major concern for

any mining company, Lydian has no

worries about operating in Kosovo.

Kosovo’s mining laws are already

international standard and there is

significant regulatory emphasis on

protecting the environment and

engaging local communities. In this

sense our operations benefit from

constant review by specialists from the

International Finance Corporation

which is part of the World Bank

Group and one of Lydian’s largest

shareholders,” he explains.

“First mover” advantage

As a potential investment target,

Lydian offers a number of competitive

advantages. “Lydian is the only international

exploration company

currently developing resources in

Kosovo. We are benefitting from

our “early bird” exploration strategy

in developing the best projects and

securing the best people. We are

most proud of our team in Kosovo,”

Coughlin points out.

Branding Kosovo is an important

goal for Lydian, which has quickly

built up its own reputation as a

“first mover” in emerging and transitional

markets. “We try to sell

Kosovo everywhere we go in order

to attract investors and make clear

that this country is on the path to

European Union accession, that

it is a good place to live and work,

and that its mining laws are some of

the best investors can hope to work

under,” Coughlin says.

Urging European investors to explore

opportunities in Kosovo, Coughlin

concludes, “When we came here in

2006 there was some risk, but now

the government is very committed to

supporting foreign direct investment,

and the local workforce is well trained,

enthusiastic and committed. We took a

bet that in Kosovo everything would be

okay, and it has been. Now we are in a

great position. Lydian is here to stay.”

Lydian International Ltd.

Bajram Kelmendi 15 Prishtina,

10000 Kosovo

Tel.: +381 38 249 990

Fax: +381 38 248 518

www.lydianinternational.co.uk

57


• Going Green: The Ministry Talks About How the Environment Can Help Business

• Infrastructure and Housing Requirements Are Driving the Sector Forward

Environment & Spatial Planning

“All our companies do good work

regardless of their size. Each

company in every segment helps

to increase the development of the

sector because all companies work

in a timely manner striving for

quality, efficiency and excellence.”

Mahir Yagcilar, Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning


KOSOVO

Environment & Spatial Planning

Regional Water Company-Prishtina

Water Company Offers

Outstanding Investment Potential

The Regional Water Company-Prishtina

(KUR-Prishtina) is one of Kosovo’s

post war success stories. As CEO

Skender Bublaku explains, Kosovo

had around 30 water companies before

the war which served around 40%

of the population. Today, thanks to

a consolidation campaign between

2002 and 2007, seven regional

water companies handle distribution

of water throughout the country. In

addition, these water companies have

been upgraded to meet EU standards.

KUR-Prishtina is now valued at some

€80 million and covers its expenses

with its own revenues. It has doubled

the number of its customers since 1999

and now serves 550,000.

Kosovo’s successful model for

water distribution is now being

implemented by neighbouring

countries. “Even though we need a

lot of investments in the water distribution

field, what we have already

achieved is quite an impressive

result. We now serve around 75% of

the population,” Skender Bublaku

points out. Individual wells and

other private water resources supply

the remainder of the population,

but KUR-Prishtina aims to serve

the entire population in the near

future.

Privatisation of water distribution

is now allowed by law but the

government has not yet announced

Skender Bublaku, CEO

its plans for the sector. “Getting the

legislation to allow for privatisation

was the initial step in the process,”

Skender Bublaku says, noting that

the government is likely to retain a

majority share in the water distribution

sector but will allow for increased

participation by the private sector.

The waste treatment sector, on

the other hand, is likely to be fully

privatised. Foreign companies and

investors will find significant opportunities

in both sectors as Kosovo’s

economy expands. Skender Bublaku

explains that private investment

will be needed to build a new waste

treatment facility, and another

opportunity for foreign investors is

to provide drinking water through

operating the existing network and

collecting fees, following the system

currently employed in electricity

distribution.

Providing outsourced services

concerning water distribution and

waste treatment is another avenue for

foreign investors. Skender Bublaku

says, “Here at KUR-Prishtina, we

support the entry of the private

sector in all activities, and Kosovo’s

new law on public-private partnerships

creates an ideal opportunity

for foreign investors.”

KUR-Prishtina offers outstanding

investment potential not only

because of the opportunities in

Kosovo’s water sector but also

because of the company’s successful

reconstruction, sound financial

status and strong track record. To

potential investors, Skender Bublaku

says, “Do not hesitate to contact us!

Kosovo is a country where you can

make a profit!”

Regional Water Company J.S.C.

rr Tahir Zajmi p.n.

Prishtina

KOSOVO

Tel.: +381 38 541 211/129

Fax: +381 38 541 437

www.kur-prishtina.com

59


KOSOVO

Environment & Spatial Planning

Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning

Going Green: The Ministry Talks

Help Business

The Ministry of Environment and Spatial

Planning is at the forefront of Kosovo’s ambition

to encourage sympathetic and sustainable

development. The work of the ministry touches on

several sectors such as energy and construction

ensuring modern transparent regulations. The

Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning,

Mahir Yagcilar, took time to speak to ET about

the synergies between environmental policy and

economic development.

Mahir Yagcilar, Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning

ET: How important is the development of the construction

sector for Kosovo’s economy?

M. Yagcilar: In every country it is important

especially in a post-conflict situation. In recovering

from the conflict, we need to be efficient in every

area. Therefore, quality in construction safety and

efficiency in terms of energy and proper insulation

is what helps economic development. Good infrastructure

can also assist economic development in

other aspects.

ET: Which particular developments have been

significant since the declaration of independence?

M. Yagcilar: Firstly, the legal infrastructure was put in

place and transparent competition in the tendering

process for foreign companies was established. In

the construction sector, government licenses were

issued more easily.

60


KOSOVO

Environment & Spatial Planning

About How the Environment Can

ET: What role specifically can foreign investors

play in the development of Kosovo’s construction

sector?

M. Yagcilar: They can play an important role because

we have not remained up to date with other European

construction developments especially in the energy

sector. Even now there is a need for experience,

technology and large projects such as power plant

construction and highways.

ET: Does the Ministry of Environment and Spatial

Planning issue tenders?

M. Yagcilar: We are not involved with any specific

project as much as we are involved with environmental

issues. For example, we are involved in issuing

environmental permits for construction. We do,

however, specifically invest in projects for social

housing but these are not large projects.

ET: So to what extent do environmental policies

influence the development of Kosovo’s construction

sector?

M. Yagcilar: It is similar to other countries. For

example, in terms of constructing a power plant, we

must do everything possible to keep pollution below

the allowed level. We must also look at how construction

can impact wildlife habitats. So rather than

just invest in construction and development, we try

to make things balanced, not to inhibit economic

development, but to keep both air and water

pollution in check. Of course, development must be

economic and cost effective. The environment can

help in this regard with energy savings for example.

ET: How can European investors help you achieve your

goals of being cost efficient while working within these

guidelines?

M. Yagcilar: Well, they have the technology which

we need here and which would provide opportunities

for Kosovar subcontractors. At the same time,

we know we have a very young population which is

capable and which should learn to develop and use

this technology.

ET: People may still have a negative image of Kosovo

with regard to corruption and instability. From the

perspective of your ministry, why should Europeans

choose Kosovo as a business destination?

M. Yagcilar: Well, corruption and associated

problems are not specific to Kosovo. They happen

in all post-conflict countries but our duty is to make

the government functional and attractive for the

investors. If we achieve this, it promises a good

future. There will be growth opportunities for

companies and sectors and we will see larger projects

and more competition. This will add quality to the

sector and will create the general impression that

corruption has dissipated. Obviously we are a small

country but we have our natural resources and also

our human resources. At the same time, it is also a

strategic place next to Montenegro and Albania and

we have easy access to all the surrounding countries.

If you combine these aspects, Kosovo could become

an attractive proposition.

ET: Who would you see as the most successful business

ambassadors within the construction sector?

M. Yagcilar: All our companies do good work

regardless of their size. Each company in every

segment helps to increase the development of the

sector because all companies work in a timely manner

striving for quality, efficiency and excellence.

.

ET: What is your personal message to our readers?

M. Yagcilar: I think that Kosovo, because of its natural

and human resources, can offer a lot to investors.

The establishment of stability also helps in this

regard. Kosovo is at the centre of the Balkans and

the surrounding countries need to have a balance of

economic, social and political development. So we

invite investors to come to Kosovo.

61


KOSOVO

Environment & Spatial Planning

Infrastructure and Housing

the Sector Forward

The construction sector has been a crucial component

of Kosovo’s rehabilitation with millions of Euros being

funnelled into this sector. According to the Kosovo

Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the sector accounted

for approximately 7% of the country’s economic output

in 2006. However, much remains to be done. The

Ministry of Trade and Industry predicts that 60,000

new apartments will be needed over the coming years.

This in itself will create extra investment opportunities

in the construction of infrastructure and associated

social, retail and commercial units.

Beyond this contractors and developers alike will be

able to benefit from Kosovo’s wider infrastructural

requirements. Indeed, the government has particularly

earmarked the country’s road and highway network for

a major upgrade. The Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications

predicted in 2006 that the country

would need an annual investment of €48 million for

the rehabilitation and maintenance of roads and

bridges which will provide significant opportunities

for private investors. The priorities lie in the transport

corridors that plug into the wider European network

with the most prominent being the Merdare – Kukes –

Durres highway that will become part of the European

transport corridor X connecting Western Europe to

the Adriatic. With the government also earmarking

the energy sector for investment, with power plant

construction and the associated infrastructure being a

particular focus, there will be plenty of opportunities

for contractors.

These projects will be financed through foreign

investment on a public private partnership (PPP) basis.

The government has been laying the legal foundations

for these agreements with a law on concessions being

drafted in 2008. The government is also working hard

to create the framework to professionalize the construction

industry in other respects. According to the

Director of Kosovo’s Construction Department, Naim

Mahmutaj, “From the beginning, the Department of

Construction which was established in June 2004, has

made efforts to begin with a legal base in conformity

with the European Union’s requests.” One aspect of this

is the plan to establish a conformity assessment body

that will make sure Kosovar construction materials and

products meet the guidelines set out by the EU.

However, the industry has already come along way. The

country already has a burgeoning building materials

industry. It is estimated that Kosovo has approximately

70 ready mix concrete plants ranging in size and product

delivery. The cement industry has also established an

umbrella organisation for cement related industries

called the Kosovo Association of Concrete Producers

(KACP). The Association will help raise the quality of

concrete-related materials and bring them into line with

EU standards as well as playing a role in overseeing the

design and building of bridges and buildings to

ensure international

standards.

The country also

has a significant

number of

wood and plastic

producers that

cover domestic

demand with a

nascent export

business starting

in the fields of

wood products

and thermo-insulation

products.

With Kosovo’s

significant wealth

in forests, the

wood processing

industry in

particular is

set to become

valuable for the construction

industry. The country currently allows

62


KOSOVO

Environment & Spatial Planning

Requirements Are Driving

almost 1 million m3 of felling and the annual value of

Kosovar wood products touches €50-75 million. The

industry is thus capable of providing employment for

10% of the population.

The government is also working in conjunction with the

private sector and non-governmental bodies through its

plans for a Construction Institute that will deal with certification,

testing and inspection of materials. “The testing

laboratories as well as the inspection and certification

bodies will be accredited.

The producers will

obey the requests

for conformity

assessment and a

large portion of

construction

products will enter the market with the conformity seal

(KC- Kosovo Conformity, identical to the EC- European

Conformity),” asserts Mahmutaj. It is estimated that

such a facility would cost approximately €2.1million to

establish.

The steel industry in the country is also being rebuilt.

In 2005, Kremikovtsi, Bulgaria’s largest steel mill paid

€4.15 million for Kosovo’s Llamkos steel galvanising

plant with plans to invest €15 million to upgrade the

plant. Llamkos, which has an annual capacity of 150,000

tonnes, had lain dormant since 2001. The Kosovo Trust

Agency also lined up the €2.3 million sale of the local

steel manufacturer, Fan, which has a production capacity

of 20,000 tonnes annually.

The construction industry is therefore well placed.

As the government concentrates on both the

residential demands of the country and the

infrastructural requirements running from

energy to roads, the investment opportunities

for the private sector are substantial.

Indeed, with a cheap labour force and

a burgeoning building materials

industry, the prospects for future

growth in the sector are strong.

63


KOSOVO

Environment & Spatial Planning

Dukagjini Group

Building Tomorrow’s Kosovo

Dukagjini Construction, a division of the dynamic

Dukagjini Group, is a recognized leader in Kosovo’s fast

growing construction sector. The company has already

completed major projects, including residential developments,

and it has been chosen to build Kosovo’s World

Trade Centre, which will cover 80,000 square meters and

is set to be completed over the next two to three years.

Mr. Gëzim Gjikolli, WTC Manager, says that the major

World Trade Centre project welcomes European

partners and investors. “Slovenian companies are

already involved in the project, but we are open to

other European investors. This is a unique project for

the Balkan region and will earn very significant profits

for investors,” he says.

Dukagjini seeks partners which can help the group

achieve its long term goals. Mr. Agron Sallova, Chief of

Construction Division in Dukagjini Group, explains, “We

are looking for partners that can complement our services

and products in every area of our operations with regards

to technology and know-how, and more importantly

partners who can provide access to new markets.”

Exceptional investment potential

Dukagjini Construction adheres to the highest

European and international standards in all its projects

and employs highly skilled engineers and other professionals

as well as an ambitious management team. The

company also benefits from its membership in the fast

growing Dukagjini Group, which is known for its high

quality services as well as for its corporate citizenship.

For example, Dukagjini is sponsoring a scholarship

programme with American Councils to allow promising

Kosovars to study for master’s diplomas in US universities.

“Dukagjini’s commitment to Kosovo’s future is

strong, and its generosity in supporting our scholarship

programme is a model of philanthropic leadership,

both in the US and in Kosovo,” says Dan E. Davidson,

president of American Councils.

Kosovo’s construction sector in general has outstanding

growth potential, according to Mr. Agron Sallova, who

says, “There will be significant construction of residential

buildings and highways during the next year and beyond.

In fact, the construction sector will be the target of more

investment than any other sector in Kosovo.” Dukagjini

Construction has positioned itself to grow rapidly along

with the country’s construction industry.

Mr. Gëzim Gjikolli points out that now is the time for

international investors to target Kosovo. He says, “The

business environment is favourable for foreign companies

and Kosovo is regulated properly. Foreign companies

should partner with a local company to best benefit from

the opportunities here. I say to potential investors, Kosovo

is developing very rapidly. Do you want to be part of it?”

Agron Sallova – architect

CEO / Design

Construction & Engineering Division Dukagjini Group

“Ismajl Qemajli”Str., No.2 – Pejë / Republic of Kosova

Tel: +381 39 432 025, mob.: + 386 49 750 302

Fax: +381 39 432 025

agron.sallova@dukagjinigroup.com

www.dukagjinigroup.com

64


The Industry Has Several Strings to Its Bow Pointing the Way to an Effervescent Future

Tourism


KOSOVO

Tourism

The Industry Has Several Strings

Effervescent Future

Kosovo might not be the first name on the lips of

tourists and those with the travel bug but that might

all be about to change as the rewards of stability

brought about by the country’s declaration of independence

has given the authorities the chance to put

this impressive corner of the continent firmly on the

European tourist map. Indeed, with a diverse range

of sights of natural beauty and interesting activities,

Kosovo has much to recommend it.

Kosovo has inherited both a rich diversity of natural

beauty and a physical residue built up over time as

different cultures and traditions have come to settle

in this area. The cultural legacy of the land is indeed

impressive. From the Christian heritage of frescoed

monasteries which have been home to the Serbian

orthodox patriarchy to the imposing mosques of

Prizren, the country has something to sate the

appetite of even the most voracious cultural tourist.

The Republic of Kosovo also has a rich natural

heritage. The country can count on the Rugova

canyons near Peja in the west of the country, the

Mirusha waterfalls also in the west, the Gadime caves

in the central plateau, the White River spring, thermal

springs, and abundant flora and fauna to attract

casual nature lovers. Such a verdant landscape also

provides a fertile habitat for a wide range of wildlife.

Tourists in the country regularly come across boars,

deer, quails, pheasants, the fulvous (brown) bear,

wolves and foxes.

Newly independent Kosovo also sits in a bowl ringed

by a series of dramatic mountain ranges from the

sombre and melancholy Sharr in the South to the

66


KOSOVO

Tourism

to Its Bow Pointing the Way to an

forbidding ‘Accursed Mountains’

in the west. This dramatic landscape

has also presented the opportunity

for the Kosovar authorities to

further develop its activity-based

tourism. The country is a haven

for hikers and is working hard to

build up its nascent ski industry.

The centre of skiing in Kosovo

is currently situated at Brezovica

in the South of the country near

Prizren. The Department of

Tourism is not only planning to

expand the quality and infrastructure

of the Brezovica resort but

also roll out other winter resorts in

other parts of the country. While

Brezovica may need €50 million to

turn it into a thriving resort it can

take heart from the experience

of Bansko in Bulgaria which went

through a rapid transformation

and now attracts 150,000 British

tourists annually.

However, according to Bujar Kuqi,

the Director of the Department of

Tourism, the immediate concern

of the government is to improve

the general infrastructure for

tourists in the country. “We are

focused on repairing the infrastructure

needed for tourism,

which will allow the full utilisation

of our tourism potential which

until now has not been realised

because of the service level of

tourism development,” says Kuqi.

With three Balkan countries

ranking in the top ten countries

in the world for projected 10 year

tourist growth according to the

World Travel and Tourism Council,

Kosovo can take heart. Initial steps

have already been taken to improve

the country’s tourism infrastructure.

The ease of visiting Kosovo is

immediately apparent with short

travel times from Western Europe

and no visa requirements. The

government has also already been

working on improving the quality

and quantity of accommodation to

meet the expected increase in the

number of tourists. This will also

allow for niche tourist sectors such

as Meetings Incentives Conference

and Exhibition (MICE) tourists.

However, in order to achieve

this goal, the authorities have

recognised the need to implement

a set of standards and benchmarks

to maintain the quality of the

sector. This will require a rigorous

licensing system that assures the

highest standards of accommodation,

infrastructure and service.

The authorities are also

working hard to put together

a promotional strategy for the

country. According to Kuqi, “We

are in close cooperation with other

institutions in Kosovo in order to

create a greater image of Kosovo,

presenting it as a secure place for

tourism, as a new country, as a

place that has enough capacity for

visitors and to finally eliminate the

image that Kosovo has had until

now as a conflict area.”

The country is therefore moving

in the right direction and with

such latent potential the country

could soon be mentioned in the

same breath as more prominent

Balkan tourism destinations

such as Croatia, Montenegro

and Bulgaria. With clear and

transparent planning, the

government is well placed to lure

many more European tourists

looking for a change of scene and

a diverse range of activities and

sights over the coming years.

67


KOSOVO

Tourism

Eurokoha Reisen

Top Quality Travel Services

Eurokoha Reisen, founded in Prishtina in 1995, has

grown to become one of Kosovo’s leading companies and

a driving force behind the country’s efforts to build a

thriving tourism sector.

A shareholder of Hamburg International, Eurokoha

has opened two offices in Prishtina and branches in

Stuttgart, Munich, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Hanover,

Zurich and Geneva in addition to its main office in

Frankfurt. Eurokoha has 41 highly trained employees

in Kosovo.

Eurokoha operates according to the highest international

standards and is a member of the International

Air Transport Association. Its certified travel agents

employ the Amadeus system and the Go Global Travel

international system to make travel arrangements,

including hotel and auto hire reservations, for its clients

all over the globe. Eurokoha’s on-line booking system

is used by more than 300 contracted travel agencies,

which enables Eurokoha to provide the best possible

travel options for its clients.

Prishtina Airport now welcomes around one million

passengers per year, and 30% of these travellers are

Eurokoha’s clients. The company is known for offering

tailored solutions and for finding the least expensive

and most convenient travel routes. Eurokoha regularly

provides travel arrangements for Kosovo’s President,

Prime Minister, members of parliament, cabinet

members and their staffs and other prominent organisations.

Eurokoha is also Kosovo’s leading company

in providing holiday packages to Turkey, Albania and

Egypt.

After many years of hard work and continuous

exploration of Kosovo’s travel market, Eurokoha

created Kosovo’s first national airline, Kosova Airlines,

in 2003. The airline, working in partnership with leading

airlines in the US and Europe, now flies to destinations

throughout Europe and beyond, and has been seeing a

steady rise in passenger numbers from 172,700 in 2003

to 317,711 last year.

Its partners include ATA Airlines (New York), Hello (Zurich,

Geneva), Edelweiss (Zurich,Geneva), LTU International

(Düsseldorf, Stuttgart), Germanwings (Cologne/Bonn,

Hamburg, Stuttgart), Hamburg International (Munich), Air

Berlin (Munich, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Frankfurt,

Hanover, EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg), Atlasjet

(Antalya, Istanbul-Atatürk), and SunExpress (Antalya).

It also has co-operative agreements with Austrian Airlines,

Air Berlin, Lufthansa, Adria Airways, British Airways,

Malev, Turkish Airlines, Macedonian Airlines, MNG, Swiss

Air, United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines,

Continental Airlines, Al Italia and many more.

Eurokoha’s flights provide quick links to and from

Pristina and destinations throughout Europe, including

Hamburg, Hanover, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, Köln,

Düsseldorf, Zurich and Geneva. For EU investors and

travellers who wish to visit Kosovo, Eurokoha and Kosova

Airlines are the right choice.

Eurokoha Reisen

Vellusha e Poshtme 17 - 10 000 Prishtina, Kosovo

Tel.: +381 38 245 998 - +381 38 243 482

Fax.: +381 38 249186 - www.eurokoha.net

68


With special

thanks to:


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dian International through its local subsidiary, Kosovo Resource

Company, is a proud partner in the economic redevelopment of Kosovo.

Ly

dian International is a diversified British based mineral exploration company with expertise employing “first mover”

strategies in emerging environments. The company is currently focused on Eastern Europe with 3 projects in Kosovo

including a flagship Lead-Zinc project, plus a flagship Gold project in Armenia.

For more information go to www.lydianinternational.co.uk.

70

Lydian International is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the symbol LYD.

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