Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti discussed the decision to form a new government without fresh elections and recent US involvement in relations between Kosovo and Serbia on BIRN’s televised programme ‘Jeta ne Kosove.’
Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti addressed the latest political developments in Kosovo, as well as the reasons for the downfall of his government and the United States’ role in its demise in a televised interview on BIRN’s Jeta ne Kosove programme on Thursday.
According to Kurti, the decision taken by President Thaci on Wednesday to form a new government, rather than holding fresh elections, was due to the current popularity of his party, Vetevendosje.
“I believe that [elections] are not being held because we would win a majority at the next election,” Kurti argued, saying that Vetevendosje was more popular than ever according to recent polling, currently enjoying nearly double the support it received at the last election.
“If we were able to win against them as individual parties, next time we will be victorious against all of them,” he said. “It seems that October 6 was insufficient, and what is needed is for us to win a majority.”
The acting prime minister stated that the collapse of the Vetevendosje-led government has damaged the Kosovo state more than it has damaged his party. He argued that while his government was independent of the Belgrade-backed Lista Srpska and members of the previous PAN coalition government, the new government will be dependent on both to function.
Asked about the party’s “red lines” on forming coalitions in the future, Kurti seemed to rule out coalitions with all of Kosovo’s established parties prior to the next election. “We don’t want a coalition with PAN because we don’t want state capture and abuse of power, but I cannot say that we want a coalition with LDK either,” he said. “We have to wait and see what these parties offer at the next elections.”
Questioned on whether he still thought it was possible to free Kosovo from what he described as “state capture,” Kurti said that his government’s time in power proved that ending institutional corruption is within reach. “I believe that the main reason behind the motion of no-confidence was precisely because liberating the captured state [from corruption] is possible,” Kurti said. “If freeing the state from capture was impossible, they would leave us in power.”
Kurti stated his government had shown that it was capable of changing the state without changing their principles, but was pressed on the controversial appointment of four members of Vetevendosje to the boards of public enterprises by host of the show and BIRN Kosovo director Jeta Xharra.
Kurti dismissed the idea that any comparisons can be made between his decision and the party-affiliated appointments made by the former PAN government, arguing that out of 38 members appointed to temporary boards, only four had links with Vetevendosje.
Kurti emphasized that his government was not concerned about party affiliation when appointing its officials. “Out of 13 deputy ministers selected by Vetevendosje, six are not Vetevendosje members. Of six ministers chosen by Vetevendosje, two are not members of the party,” he added.
The Vetevendosje leader said that his government’s top priorities had been justice and the economy, the two campaign promises he believes were the reason his party came out on top at the October 6 election.
“Politics is about priorities, and I did not win the elections by talking day and night about Serbia and the dialogue,” he said.“I did not put the dialogue aside, but I told Mr Grenell, [the dialogue] cannot be my main priority.”
Kurti told BIRN that when he met Richard Grenell, President Trump’s Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, he explained that he was ready for discussions with Serbia and outlined his principles for the Dialogue. According to Kurti, Grenell replied: “I am not for dialogue. I am for action.”
Kurti said that this attitude proved to him that Richard Grenell was not preparing to facilitate a dialogue between the two countries, but that a predetermined agreement is already on the table.
Grenell’s decision to condition the resumption of the dialogue with the removal of Kosovo’s tariffs against Serbia, and his failure to uphold demands on Serbia to halt its derecognition campaign against Kosovo, have marked a new era in US-Kosovo relations, Kurti told BIRN.
“The Ambassador has the same position as Belgrade when it comes to removing the tariff and abandoning reciprocity,” he said. “For these issues, we have an American envoy who is not between us and Belgrade but is on Belgrade’s side – and I don’t know why that is.”
Kurti later reiterated his stance against any exchange of territory being part of a final resolution between Kosovo and Serbia.
“I am convinced that any solution involving territory, an idea that originates in Serbia, will lead to new conflicts in the Balkans, and to a huge number of refugees to the EU and the US. I am a social democrat and progressive and I cannot accept the racist notion that we should have borders on ethnic lines.”
For Kurti, the Kosovo people should have their say through new elections and not be represented by a new government that would accept pre-prepared agreements in the dialogue. “Elections could be held in June if the pandemic is over,” he said.
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