Kosovo’s parliament elected (03.06) a new government with 61 votes in favor and 24 against, 1 abstention, of those present, 86 out of a total of 120 deputies. The parliamentary group of the former ruling “Self-Determination” party did not take part in the vote.
The new prime minister, Avdulah Hoti, is a professor of economics, considered more of a technocrat than a politician, but enjoys strong support from the chairman of the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Isa Mustafa. He holds a degree in Economics from the University of Pristina and a PhD in Economics from Staffordshire University in the United Kingdom. He began his political career in 2006 as an adviser to Kosovo’s education minister, and in 2008 became part of Isa Mustafa’s team as mayor of Pristina. When Mustafa became prime minister in 2014, Hoti took over as finance minister.
In his speech, the newly elected prime minister said one of the priorities of Kosovo’s new government is to take on constitutional responsibilities for dialogue with Serbia, in cooperation with the EU and the United States. “The final deal between Kosovo and Serbia will be based on reciprocity between the two countries. We will not allow any change of borders or exchange of territories”. He promised to remove 100% tariffs on Serbian goods immediately, after which he would resume dialogue with Serbia that was suspended in 2018.
Hoti has assured that the role of the EU and the United States is inseparable in this process and that they must be involved in reaching an agreement and its implementation. “We have no dilemma with America or anyone else. For us, there is no alternative to partnering with the United States”.
The new government was elected with the votes of Isa Mustafa’s LDK, Ramush Haradinaj’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), Fatmir Limaj’s Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA), Behgjet Pacolli’s New Kosovo Alliance (AKR) and some ethnic parties.
So far, the following names of the government are known:
Deputy Prime Ministers: Driton Selmanaj (LDK); Besnik Tahiti (AAK); Albulena Balja (SDI) and Goran Rakic (Serb List).
Ministers: Agim Veliu – Minister of the Interior; Anton Cuni – Minister of Defense; Hykmete Bajrami – Minister of Finance; Arban Abrashi – Minister of Infrastructure; Armend Zemaj – Minister of Health; Besian Mustafa -Minister of Agriculture; Vlora Dumoshi – Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports.
Hoti’s cabinet is also backed by Serb List lawmakers, who are under the influence of official Belgrade. The Serb List will receive two ministerial posts in the new government: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government would be Goran Rakic, the current mayor of northern Kosovska Mitrovica, and Dalibor Jevtic will retain his post as Minister of Communities and Returns.
Representatives of the European Union, US envoy to the Belgrade-Pristina talks Richard Grenell and the US embassy in Kosovo congratulated Pristina on forming a new government.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has said that she hopes Kosovo’s new government to be responsible and not to pursue a populist policy.
Shortly before the session, several hundred people gathered in front of the parliament building for a peaceful protest against the government’s vote. Protesters carried placards saying the election of the Hoti government was a “vote manipulation” and called for new elections. The “Self-Determination” movement has stated that they are not the organizers of the protest.
The lawmakers who voted against are believed to be from Kadri Veseli’s Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), whose chairman was Hashim Thaci until he was elected president.
Kosovo Parliament Speaker Vjosa Osmani of the LDK has refused to chair the parliamentary session at which Kosovo’s new government was elected, and this has been perceived by the public as taking the side of the “Self-Determination” movement.