Kosovo Government Falls in No-Confidence Vote

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s cabinet fell through a no-confidence vote in parliament late on Wednesday (25.03).

The MPs passed a no-confidence vote by 82 to 32 votes and 1 abstention.

The vote was initiated by Isa Mustafa’s Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), after the prime minister fired Internal Affairs Minister Agim Veliu without consulting LDK leader which he was obliged to do under the coalition agreement between“Self-determination” of Kurti and LDK.

Mustafa’s party also opposed to Kurti’s intention of gradually revoking the 100 percent tariffs on imports from Serbia, claiming that the decision harms the relations of Kosovo with the USA. 

For its part, Serb List said it was voting against the government because it failed to meet the interests of the Serbian community and did not abolish the tariffs.

The political confrontation began a week earlier when Prime Minister Kurti opposed President Hashim Thaci’s intention to declare a state of emergency.

The real reason for Kurti’s fall from power was neither in the dismissal of Interior Minister Veliu nor the partial lifting of tariffs, as Kurti promised to abolish the 100% tax on Serbian goods as of 1 April, i.e. a week had not been provided for the decision to enter in force, which the government had already taken on 21.03. The Kurti government was not given a chance to spend even 100 days, which is a common and normal practice in parliamentary democracy.

The successful no-confidence motion against Kurti is due to the current state of affairs in Kosovo’s political scene “everyone against Kurti”, which was a result of his political immaturity, which led to his rapid confrontation not only with the president but also with the coalition partners.

Despite the Kosovo society’s desire for political change that brought the “Self-determination” party to power in the last parliamentary elections, with the current vote, it has emerged that Kosovo’s political elite, made up mainly of former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commanders, is not ready for reforms.

The insisting of Brussels and Washington to Kurti for the immediate and unconditional lifting of customs barriers to Serbia and the demonstration of some isolation toward him by the United States, with the invitation of the two presidents Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic in Washington, played the role of a trigger for the subsequent events, which have had greater consequences than the West intended.

Of the remaining scenarios for the development of the political situation in Kosovo, a less likely one is to go to new parliamentary elections before the other options are exhausted. It is more likely to create something like a crisis government during the coronavirus epidemic, and at present, it would be most logical to be headed by former Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, who has extensive political experience as a balancer in the Kosovo political scene.

The attempts to break through the traditional nationalist forces established in the Serbia-Kosovo-Bosnia and Herzegovina triangle over the past 30 years have failed and they will continue to dominate the political environment in the Western Balkans, which can be characterized as “mutually-fueled nationalism”.

In the face of other pressing priorities, such as the current coronavirus epidemic, the looming new economic crisis, Brexit, the US-EU trade and economic confrontation, leading to disagreements in NATO, fueled by Turkey’s disloyal behavior to allies and attempts to extract the strategic benefits of the war in Syria and the threats of president Erdogan with migrant waves to Europe, relations between Serbia and Pristina seem to remain in the background.

In an emerging environment, the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is highly likely to return to the old line of delay and nothing to negotiate. A sign in this regard was given by the current EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, with his refusal to be directly involved in the dialogue on normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo, with the role that his predecessor Federica Mogherini had taken, but to appoint his own special representative (so far, former senior diplomat of Slovakia Miroslav Lajcak) to mediate on behalf of the EU between the two countries. It remains to be seen whether and how much the new reduced-mediation model will prove successful.

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