Update: Kosovo: A break-through in the political impasse

Mon 11 Sep 2017

Update: Kosovo: A break-through in the political impasse

Three months after general elections, the political impasse in Kosovo seems to be over. On 9 September, member of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj was appointed Prime Minister by the Kosovo Assembly. A day earlier, the Assembly elected Kadri Veseli of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) as parliamentary speaker. The PDK had the legal right to appoint a parliamentary speaker, because the PDK-led coalition became first in the parliamentary elections. However, the coalition could not elected a speaker because of its lack of majority in the Assembly. The appointing of Ramush Haradinaj has led to shocking reactions in Serbia. Belgrade accuses Haradinaj of committing war crimes during the independence struggle of Kosovo in the 1990’s.

The new cabinet, consisting of the PDK, New Alliance for Kosovo-party (AKR), the AAK, and the Initiative for Kosovo (NISMA) is expected to have many ministers in order to satisfy the various coalition partners’ appetites. The PDK will have the post of Deputy PM and six ministries. The main Serbian party Srpska Lista (Serbian List) gets three ministries. Not all the names of the cabinet are announced yet. “We are making preparations for tomorrow’s session … However, there are some difficulties as not all [partners] have come up with names,” Haradinaj said. The huge numbers of ministerial posts has led to many complains. Petrit Zogaj, director of the think tank FOL (Speak Up) said that decision-making will be ineffective and difficult. Furthermore, budgeting the costs for the ministries will be a very challenging task.

Political impasse after general elections
After the elections of 11 June, the PDK-led coalition could not form a majority government. The coalition had 39 seats in the 120-seats parliament. To get a majority, the PDK-led coalition needed the votes of the New Alliance for Kosovo-party together with 20 votes of the non-Albanian MPs. On 4 September, AKR signed a deal with the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK)-led coalition. "This coalition will push processes forward. We have many challenges to overcome and they will be overcome only by understanding, with positive energy and work," the leader of AKR, Behgjet Pacolli, said. Earlier that day he broke up with the pre-election ally Democratic League for Kosovo (LDK). About this change of heart, Behgjet Pacolli said: “We have concluded all the contractual obligations we have had with LDK. Our ways now are parted.’’ The PDK-led coalition obtained the votes of the non-Albanian MPs as well, so the President was able to give a mandate to the Prime Minister candidate Ramush Haradinaj.

Towards the future
What does the forming of the new government headed by former commandant Ramush Haradinaj mean for the future of Kosovo, and its relations with the EU and neighbouring countries, mainly Serbia?

Since Kosovo declared its independence from Belgrade, relations between Serbia and Kosovo has been improved due to the High-Level Dialogue of the EU. The 25 August 2015 Agreement included deals on energy, telecommunications, the bridge between the Serbian and the Albanian part of the town Mitrovica, and the Association of Serbian Municipalities (ASM). Both countries want to become EU member (Serbia is negotiating about EU accession and Kosovo is an aspirant country), but have to normalize their relationship to be part of the EU. This will be a long process, because Serbia, as well as five EU member states, does not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Furthermore not all political parties in Kosovo want the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to continue. Strong political parties with popular support focus mainly on the independence of Kosovo and territorial policies. As for the opposition party Self Determination (Vetëvendosje), it is not very enthusiastic about the agreements with Serbia. Furthermore, the party performed some disruptive actions, like throwing eggs and releasing tear gas inside Parliament. For the international partners, such actions makes cooperation with Vetëvendosje difficult. However, the party has been successfully in mobilising young urban people and made serious work in developing social policies. Vëtevendosje was also not very happy about the acknowledgement of Serbian assemblies in Serb-dominated municipalities (the ASM-plan), mainly in the northern region of Kosovo.

For EU-integration and for a continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, a stable government is needed. With this coalition the dialogue with Belgrade will continue while opposition Vetëvendosje will most likely be able to further increase their support due the dissatisfaction among citizens about corruption and lack of economic growth.  

Sources: Balkaninsight Balkaninsight