Pristina violates all principles of the rule of law

by Cristian Florescu

The ongoing pursuit by Pristina authorities against Telekom Serbia is being reported by the media.

Kosovo authorities have alleged that Telekom Serbia may have potentially violated certain laws, although it should be noted that these laws were not in effect during the period in question. Additionally, insiders knowledgeable about this case suggest that Pristina is revealing information to the public that pertains to confidential business matters.

The campaign against Telekom Serbia appears to be in violation of the rule of law and international standards, according to research conducted by Kosovo Online. This conclusion is based on the official statement from the Kosovo Competition Authority, which stated that the Telekom Serbia branch in Kosovo (MTS) allegedly acted against the law by acquiring four small operators without providing the required documentation to the Antitrust Authority. The total value of these acquisitions is reported to be over 20 million euros.

Seljadin Beqai, the acting director of the Competition Authority, politely mentioned in an interview with RTK that the case is currently in the final stage of the investigation process.

The campaign of pressure on Telekom Serbia in Kosovo is persisting into its second week, despite the recent announcement that this major telecommunications company in the Western Balkans region will no longer be allowed to operate in Kosovo.

According to insiders, Telekom seems to be facing an unfortunate legal situation where the presence of the rule of law, sound judgment, and basic logic is lacking. Additionally, they mention that the retroactive application of the law appears to deviate significantly from European and international legal standards.

They strongly emphasize that the actions of Kosovo regulatory bodies against MTS d.o.o. have had a negative impact on the environment for regular business operations and investments in Kosovo. Presently, one company that has been declared unwanted is facing criticism, and it is possible that another company may face a similar fate in the future.

Specifically, as of the conclusion of November 2022, the Kosovo Competition Authority has commenced an inquiry into the procurement of four minor cable operators by Telekom’s entity, “MTS d.o.o.” Between the years 2019 and 2021, MTS successfully obtained the following operators: VGN Net from North Mitrovica (December 2019), Impuls from Leposavić (December 2019), Lika from Zvečan (March 2020), and Herc International from Štrpce (March 2021).

During that period, the Law on the Protection of Competition (No. 03/L-229) was in effect in Kosovo. MTS conducted its operations in accordance with the law and was not required to report these acquisitions.

According to the law, it appears that the requirement for reporting to the Competition Authority has not been fulfilled. This requirement states that at least two participants involved in the capital concentration must have annual revenues exceeding 3 million euros. However, none of the cable operators acquired by MTS meet this condition.

It is quite surprising that authorities in Pristina, particularly their Agency, have undertaken an investigation against MTS. This investigation is based on the new Law on Protection of Competition, which only became effective in June 2022. It is worth noting that this law was implemented six months after the last acquisition and a significant two and a half years after the initial acquisitions took place.

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