This evening Kosovo Government building is covered with the European Union flag to express appreciation for the support that EU states are doing for 1.7 million inhabitants across the country.
“With over 800,000 infected & 70,000 deaths, tonight #Kosova expresses its solidarity with the #EU. In this health crisis, the EU has committed 5.2 million to combat #COVID19 and 63 million € to ease the socio-economic impact caused by the #coronavirus in Kosova. #WeStandTogether “, wrote in his Twitter Kosovo caretaker Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
Although he is facing a lot of political pressures and problems, his focus is clear. It is the health of the people and solidarity at this difficult time when the world is battling COVID-19.
Caretaker Prime Minister Albin Kurti took over duties as PM at the beginning of February this year, but his government was toppled down 50 days later on the 25th of March. Within a short period he sacked a number of the members of Boards of publicly owned enterprises that have been criticized over the years for corruption and misuse of public funds.
His Foreign Minister withdrew 14 consuls and 7 Ambassadors that have previously been appointed or employed against the Law, or that are working even though legally their mandate expired long ago.
Although people welcomed all these decisions, his coalition partner LDK and opposition parties PDK, AAK and NISMA felt uneasy with them.
Kosovo’s prime minister lost a no-confidence vote on the 25th of March this year, only fifty days after he took this position. For almost 15 years Kurti was in opposition as a leader of the Vetëvendosje party. Widespread corruption of previous Governments and his promise that he will fight it firmly made him the most popular leader in the last elections in Kosovo.
Albin Kurti’s administration collapsed after his coalition partner LDK (Democratic League of Kosovo) initiated a no-confidence vote against their government and with the help of opposition parties PDK, AAK and NISMA that defeated Mr. Kurti by a majority of votes in Parliament.
Kurti was under enormous pressure to lift tariffs imposed on goods from Serbia and B&H, by the previous government led by Ramush Haradinaj, back in November 2018. When tariffs were imposed, Serbia left a dialogue table with Kosovo that was facilitated by the EU since 2013.
During that time ruling coalition of PDK, formerly led by current Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi, AAK led by former Kosovo PM Haradinaj and NISMA led by former Minister Fatmir Limaj, refused to remove tariffs despite the huge pressure coming from the international community.
Last October Kurti won elections. In March this year he removed tariffs but imposed reciprocity with Serbia, what EU partners saw as a small step towards improving relations between Kosovo and Serbia, but USA diplomats opposed it firmly.
Before the no-confidence vote leader of the LDK, Isa Mustafa stated that “Kosovo cannot put at risk it’s relations with the USA, its main partner”.
“The tariffs must be removed fully, and with no reciprocity” Mustafa said.
25 days after the Government was brought down, Kurti did not give the ‘candidate’ name for Prime Minister. The Constitution doesn’t imply the time within which such a name should be given.
He urged for political consensus during Pandemia saying that elections should take place when it ends. But those who toppled down the Government amid COVID-19 Pandemy, are refusing the idea of the snap elections.
They would rather have a new government formed, marking thus a new practice in Kosovo, where during the previous years no-confidence vote took place twice ending with snap elections.
Today Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi announced the possibility that next week he will take steps to form the new government.
“Next week I’ll take the final constitutional steps to enable the formation of a new Government w/ full legitimacy from Parliament, capable to fight #COVID19 and serve the people. Tariffs & reciprocity need to be dropped to strengthen USA & EU support for Kosova” wrote on Twitter President Thaçi.
Many analysts also say that change of administration during this time would be extremely dangerous for the health of the people. So far Kosovo identified 560 people infected with COVID-19. Twelve of them died.
Shortly after Thaçi’s announcement, the USA President’s Special Envoy for dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, Richard Grenell, explained through Twitter that “once tariffs/reciprocity are dropped the dialogue will begin”.
Once tariffs/reciprocity are dropped (maybe this week?), then Dialogue begins in earnest. I’ve spoken with leaders in Serbia and Kosovo to make clear they must start building confidence today in preparation – and they’ve committed to do so. More to come soon. https://t.co/0DETVaMMPp
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) April 19, 2020
Thaçi’s announcement and Mr. Grenell’s reaction brought to the surface the differing opinions between USA and EU diplomats over sensitive issues such as relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Special EU Reporter for Kosovo Viola Von Cramen reacted shortly after Mr. Grenell’s statement.
Maybe new for him but the tariffs are dropped by the acting government and its Prime Minister @albinkurti. If someone is interested in leading a dialogue he/she could have started it with the government in #Kosova at any time. No need to topple it in a crisis #COVID19 #pandemic https://t.co/THPzHgqMam
— Viola von Cramon (@ViolavonCramon) April 19, 2020
Kosovo’s analyst and publicist Veton Surroi shared Grenell’s tweet with the following comment.
Reckless political disruption. First priority is COVID-19. Negotiations require better environment, Kosovo political consensus +Transatlantic unity. Lacking these – instability for people in Kosovo and Western investments in the region https://t.co/eJAMyzW1DM
— VetonSurroi (@VSurroi) April 19, 2020
There is a quite number of reactions by other Kosovo analysts and citizens as well as political activists that are reacting toward the announced steps for formations of a new Government amid pandemics.
Local media are quoting Cédric Wermuth from the Swiss National Council blaming Trump’s acting intelligence chief Richard Grenell for “treating a Kosovo like a colony”, while he did not save of criticism Kosovo President as well.
Reacting to parties that want new Government which will remove reciprocity with Serbia, several Kosovo analysts reminded them that “those who now criticize Kurti, are parties that imposed tariffs and refused to remove them for more than a year”.
Kurti’s government also left behind a century-old dispute between Kosovo and Serbia demonstrating signs of the goodwill to cooperate with Serbia in jointly battle against pandemics.
Opposition accusing him that he as a traitor because he “allowed 70 doctors from Serbia to enter Kosovo and provide medical help to those infected with COVID19”.
Yesterday, Kurti received a new ‘portion’ of critiques related to the acceptance of 1 thousand testing kits in solidarity against coronavirus.
As quotes by Kosovo Public Television, a senior official of AAK, Daut Haradinaj, who is also the leader of AAK parliamentary group, stated that even if his “two killed brothers will come back to the life I would not accept help from Serbia”, adding that he is “angry that the Montenegrins refused and Kosovo accepts the help of bloodthirsty!”
Kosovapress agency cites a moderate senior official of PDK Valdete Idrizi as saying that with such gesture “Albin Kurti helped Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic to appear in international media as humanitarian’.
Time ago his Health Minister Arben Vitia in a press conference said that medical help will be provided to every Kosovo citizen regardless of the ethnic background. He even had an online meeting with Serbia’s Minister of Health, for what he and Kurti government has been praised by many senior internationals.