The political battle over Kosovo
Coronavirus in Kosovo reached 71 infected people, joined by one loss. However, it is not the only issue that the country needs to face. The fall of the government has caused the country will have to deal with the unstable situation. Especially now, when the leadership is needed more than ever.
According to Patrick Kingsley from The New York Times, last year, elected government of Prime Minister Albin Kurti fell last Wednesday. No-confidence vote decided that the government led by Vetëvendosje political party survived only five months (Kingsley,
Bami, Robinson and Stojanovic from the Balkan Insight states that the political crisis is a consequence of Kurti´s decision to fire the interior minister from the coalition Democratic League of Kosovo political party (LDK) (Bami, Robinson, Stojanovic, 2020). The Minister of Interior Agim Veliu was fired based on his support for the president´s (Hashim Thaci´s) proposal to declare a state of emergency due to the coronavirus threat. The collective of authors also adds that in such a case, the national security council would obtain power in Kosovo
and Hashim Thaci would be a leader of the council (Bami, Robinson, Stojanovic,2020). The former prime minister Kurti argued that a state of emergency would provide Thaci with power to launch incidents with political opponents and Serbian minorities living in the northern part of Kosovo. Kurti paid for this tussle with his position, as his coalition partner LDK initiated the confidence vote.
It might seem that intra-state struggle origins in Kosovo. It could be understood as an LDK´s
revenge for firing their interior minister. However, the tensions between Kurti and Thaci are internationally fuelled. The roots of the crisis also stem from the European Union´s and US´ foreign policy division. As the EU has been interested in Kosovo, even the US is focused on the country. There are differences in how the EU and the US imagine Kosovo-Belgrade relations. For example, the EU backs the idea that Kosovo would gradually decrease tariffs on
Serbian products, as the previous Kosovo government imposed 100% trade tariffs in 2018. This idea is also backed by Kurti, who wants to be cautious in regard to make relations with Serbia better. The US administration requires immediate removal of the mentioned tariffs. The US is seeking to get Kosovo and Serbia back to the negotiation table after the failure caused by imposing the tariffs on Serbian goods. President Thaci supports the American plan. The EU also recommends relaunching negotiations but backs slower attitude. The EU has been seeking Kosovo stabilization, as the EU-EULEX rule of law mission, has been present in the country for more than ten years.
The internal clashes between Thaci and Kurti have an international background. The US is interested in Kosovo, which has been proven by retaking the leading negotiation position in Pristine-Belgrade dialogue. Bringing both countries back to negotiation talks could increase the US influence in the Balkans. However, US´ steps could also be seen as the president´s Trump effort to make one last victory of his diplomacy before the elections. For now, it looks vague who will win this battle. The former PM Kurti still holds the possibility to re-establish government in the next two weeks. Otherwise, he will be forced to call new elections. In
the situation concerning coronavirus threats these days, parliamentary elections appear a sci-fi idea.
Author: Ivan Iliev
Kingsley, P. (2020). Coronavirus Helps Bring Down Kosovo’s Government, With Nudge From U.S. The New York Times
Bami, X. Robinson, J. Stojanovic, M. (2020). Kosovo´s PM and President Clash Again over Virus Crisis . BalkanInsight