Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Government overturned in Kosovo amid health crisis

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The coronavirus has made a major victim in Kosovo: the government. In the evening of Wednesday, March 25, 82 deputies (out of 115) voted against the coalition government of Albin Kurti, painfully formed in early February after months of negotiations.

It was the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), the center-right minority party in the coalition with the Vetevendosje (“Self-determination”), the Prime Minister’s left nationalist party, that launched the sling against the government: officially for a dispute over the fight against the coronavirus, in fact rather for power struggles between Prime Minister Albin Kurti and President Hashim Thaci, as well as a dissension on the settlement of relations with neighboring Serbia.

Rivalry between the Prime Minister and the President

The president, the historic leader of the PDK who led the country to independence after the 2007-2008 war, remains, despite his unpopularity, strongly supported by the United States.

On Tuesday March 24, Hashim Thaci called on the population to disobey the curfew announced the previous day by the Prime Minister to curb the epidemic of coronavirus. He himself advocates the establishment of a state of emergency which would have strengthened his honorary power as president. The dismissal of the interior minister, who declared himself in favor of the state of emergency, served to trigger the crisis and enabled his party, the LDK, to dissociate itself from the government.

Western diplomats have unsuccessfully called Kosovar officials to reason. In a joint statement, France and Germany had asked that the vote of no confidence “Either reconsidered or postponed”, deeming it essential to maintain a government “Stable and operational” to work against the health crisis in this country of 1.8 million inhabitants, particularly fragile. The Kosovars themselves protested this political crisis by tapping pans on their windows.

US supports fall

Only the United States rubbed their hands, playing openly against Europeans and the government of the day. The American ambassador to Kosovo, Philip S. Kosnett, declared himself ” happy “ to the announcement of a vote of no confidence.

Hashim Thaci regularly talks with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, about a land exchange project to normalize the relationship between the two states. Donald Trump’s special envoy to Serbia and Kosovo negotiations, Richard Grenell, is tasked with getting the two states to sign an agreement. “Any agreement that will not solve the problems, underlines the political scientist Loïc Tregourès. Donald Trump wants a White House ceremony, Hashim Thaci wants to avoid being sued in The Hague, and even dreams of a Nobel Peace Prize. ” Europeans, on the other hand, oppose such a solution, fearing that it will recreate cascading instability in the former Yugoslavia.

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