Kosovo: relentless fight against jihadists

Interior Minister meets Alfano. Monitoring of Mosques and Ngos

27 February, 15:12

    Kosovo's Interior  Minister Skender Hyseni Kosovo's Interior Minister Skender Hyseni

    (ANSAmed) - ROME - The relentless fight against terrorism, Islamic radicalism and the new phenomenon of foreign fighters was at the heart of the meeting held in Rome between Kosovar Interior Minister Skender Hyseni and his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano, on Friday. ''Kosovo is on the frontline to curb the phenomenon of foreign fighters and extremism" said Hyseni. ''No one can sleep peacefully any longer". Kosovo has been the target of Islamic proselytism for a long time and a number of citizens of the small Balkan state have climbed Isis's command-ladder. ''Our fight is relentless" stressed the minister. ''In the space of a year we have arrested approximately 300 people, recruiters and preachers" who championed jihad "while 70 people are currently in jail facing terrorism-related charges. Dozens of Arab Ngos have also been targeted by Kosovar authorities because, as well as financing the construction of mosques, they promoted Wahabi Islam in Kosovo and the rest of the Balkans. ''We know how many they are and where they operate and we have stripped several of the right to operate and get established in our country".

    Another important facet of the struggle against extremism is the surveillance of mosques and the training of imams. In European countries the debate has focused for some time on the education of prayer-leaders, their enrolment into a specific registry and the language in which they preach. According to Hyseni, these measures take far too much time to be implemented.

    "We can't afford to wait 5-6 years for a new generation of imams and we can't oblige anyone to preach in one language rather than another. It would be a serious violation of a fundamental right''.

    It's not an issue of form but one of substance - he added - what they say must be carefully scrutinized. ''The Kosovar police is constantly monitoring what happens in religious schools and religious institutions in our country".

    In the last few hours, Kosovo has had to face another serious problem: the forced repatriation of hundreds of Kosovar migrants of Albanian ancestry, fleeing misery and unemployment, who entered EU countries illegally and whose asylum requests were rejected by Hungary, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Finland and Belgium. This failed search for better living conditions evoked the scenario of a mass exodus and frightened many European countries. ''The real problem is the liberalisation of visas"said Hyseni. '' Kosovo is the only country in Europe that has been cut out - he repeated more than once - We have met all of Brussels' requirements and do not understand what stands against the decision to liberalise visas with regard to our citizens".

    Seven years after the independence of Kosovo the country is facing dire economic circumstances and many wonder whether the Balkan state will be able to stand on its own feet for much longer. The Kosovar minister retorted forcefully: "Our country is capable of standing alone". It's true - he added - that "according to unemployment data over 30% of the population is unemployed, but at the same time, over 50% of those trying to migrate illegally to neighbouring countries are after a better salary. They've already got a job". The government, he said "cannot increase salaries. We don't have even one euro of public debt, but this tight restriction does not allow us to increase spending". What Kosovo needs "is foreign investment to exploit its natural resources. There's no difference between us, Albania and Serbia". (ANSAmed).

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