“As Ni Cent Ma Shume” (Not Another Cent), “Hajnat” (Thieves), “Kunder rritjes se cmimit te energjise elektrike” (Against the increase of energy prices), “S’PagujMaPerVeriun” (We will no longer pay for the north). These were just some of the banners that were held and calls that were made by hundreds of citizens who protested at midday (Wednesday, Dec. 20) in front of the central offices of the Kosovo Energy Distribution Service (KEDS) in Prishtina.
The protest came as a reaction against the announcement made by the Energy Regulatory Office (ZRRE) last week about the possibility of an 18 percent increase in energy prices, a possibility that Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj later confirmed.
Protests were called at the beginning of the week on Facebook, with the organizers describing themselves as “a group of citizens with no political background.” Protesters marched from the KEDS central offices to the government building.
“KEDS and the politicians can try to increase prices as much as they want, but we need to gather and protest, so as to block such attempts,” said one of the organizers, Rron Gjinovci, addressing citizens at the start of the protest.
A considerable part of this group organized similar protests in 2013, when they protested against an inflation of energy bills by the Kosovo Energy Corporation (KEK), which was previously responsible for energy distribution. During his speech, Gjinovci said: “We, the citizens of this country, decreased bills in 2013 by protesting, and some people [from KEK] are dealing with the justice system [as a result].”
Today’s protest was preceded by yesterday’s symbolic act, in which organizers placed coal before the ZRRE offices.
However, opposers of this increase have asserted that there is a connection between the price rise and the construction of the Kosova e Re power plant, which will cost over 1.3 billion euros and will be built by U.S. company ContourGlobal.
The agreement was signed today (Wednesday, Dec. 20) between the Kosovo Government and representatives from ContourGlobal, as protests were held outside.
In January 2016, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), in cooperation with the Kosovar Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development (KOSID), predicted a 50 percent increase in energy prices. This increase was foreseen in their report titled “The proposed power plant ‘Kosova e Re’ is an unnecessary burden with an unreasonable price.”
Many critics of the construction of ‘Kosova e Re’ power plant have highlighted the fact that Kosovo is building a power plant which will add to pollution levels and will not be in accordance with European standards, considering the orientation toward renewable energy and the abandoning of the use of coal.
Organizers of the protest warned that they would undertake other actions soon. According to them, protests will not stop until the increase is reversed.K
Feature image: Atdhe Mulla / K2.0.