Kosovo Foreign Minister Hashim Thaçi put forward as presidency candidate

Fri 15 Jan 2016

Kosovo Foreign Minister Hashim Thaçi put forward as presidency candidate

Kosovo’s governing party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), has named its leader Hashim Thaçi as its candidate for the presidency. Current president Atifete Jahjaga will finish her term in office on April 7. In correspondence with a deal concluded in November 2014, when Kosovo was struggling to form a new government, PDK’s government partner, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), said it will honour Thaçi’s nomination. This was PDK’s condition to form a coalition government, headed by LDK’s Isa Mustafa. “The PDK has kept its promise regarding the election of [the LDK’s] Isa Mustafa as Kosovo’s prime minister, so the LDK will keep its promise of electing Mr. Thaçi as president” LDK vice-chairman Lutfi Haziri said. This is important because the president is not chosen by a popular vote, but elected by lawmakers in the parliament.

No unanimous support

Opposition party Vetëvendosje said that it will do everything in its power to prevent Thaçi from becoming president. According to Vetëvendosje’s MP Zgjim Hyseni, “his whole political biography is characterised by political actions that are damaging to the country’s interest.” War veteran Thaçi was political director of the Kosovo Liberation Army during the 1998-99 war. At the time, he was one of the few negotiators willing to accept more autonomy under Serbian rule, instead of full Kosovan independence. While the Western parties called him “the voice of reason”, this point of view may not be very popular amongst the Vetëvendosje nationalists. Moreover, Thaçi has been accused of several criminal acts during his terms as Prime Minister.

Nomination could stimulate political unrest
Political unrest has become the status quo in Kosovo, and the nomination of Thaçi might contribute to continuation of this situation. In August 2015, Serbia and Kosovo concluded a deal on the association of Serb municipalities in Northern Kosovo, which would give more authority to ethnic Serbs. This deal was stimulated by Brussels. Ever since, Vetëvendosje and other opposition parties have been halting parliament sessions, for example by throwing teargas, in protest over the deal. Although, the constitutional court of Kosovo has approved the agreement with Serbia that foresees an association of Serbian-majority municipalities, the ruling also states that some of the principles of the agreements are not in line with the constitution.  The opposition continues its activist fight – outside and inside the parliament: “The current government has lost the credibility and legitimacy to open new topics in the dialogue with Serbia. Time is running out for this government,” said opposition member Ardian Gjini. The prospect of Thaçi becoming the president points in direction of further deepening of the political deadlock.