Author: Julijana Mojsilovic N1, 04.06.2020.

Kosovo’s former Prime Minister Albin Kurti said on Thursday he would not hand over his office to the newly elected premier Avdulah Hoti, who he dismissed as the First Deputy Prime Minister soon after he took power following last October’s general elections.

Instead, Kurti announced the return to power. “We’ll be back very soon,” he said.

His Self-Determination party won the last elections but had to form a coalition government with the runner-up Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) whose member is Hoti.

However, after Kurti dismissed him and another LDK minister, the party broke up the coalition and voted for the government ouster.

Kurti’s cabinet survived only four months during which he said it had achieved significant results, among which he emphasised that he ruled without the support of the Serb List, supported by Belgrade, which on Wednesday voted for Hoti’s new cabinet, in which it would lead two ministries and have a post of a deputy prime minister.

Before and during the Parliament session which elected the new government, several hundred Self-Determination supporters protested against what they said was “the manipulation with our votes,” and demanding new elections.

Kurti said his party had nothing with those protests, but after the new cabinet was voted in added that “now the protests are inevitable.”

In the meantime, Hoti received congratulations from both the European Union and the US.

His  Government start working without the official handing over the office since Kurti refused to do that. Hoti said his priorities would be fighting against the coronavirus epidemic and Kosovo’s economic recovery, as well as “the strengthening of the rule of law, taking over the dialogue (with Belgrade) based on the Constitution, and improving the education and health care system.”

Miroslav Lajčák, the EU special envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on normalisation of relations, called the new prime minister on Wednesday night, saying he was “looking forward to closely cooperate with you in the dialogue under the EU auspices and about the European perspective for people in Kosovo.”

Congratulated Avdullah Hoti on his election as Prime Minister of Kosovo in our call today. Looking forward to closely working with him on the -facilitated Dialogue and towards a European perspective for the people of Kosovo. Miroslav Lajčák (@MiroslavLajcak)June 3,2020

All Kosovo’s politicians have insisted that the visa-free regime for their citizens should be the first thing the EU should do if it was serious about Pristina’s European perspective.

Former EU mediator, Federica Mogherini reminded Lajčák on Wednesday of that unfulfilled promise.

Mr Lajcak, if EU wishes to remain a crediblle facilitator in the dialogue b/ Kosovo and Serbia, it should first waive the visa requirement for Kosovo Albanians to travel in Schengen Area.#visalibis already long overdue, given that all other countries in WB got it a decade ago!

Also on Wednesday, Lajčák announced he would organise the first meeting between Belgrade and Pristina officials as the start of the resumption of the dialogue already in June, even before the general elections in Serbia due on June 21.

Commenting on the announcement, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said “Serbia will have a word too.”

The dialogue has been on hold since November 2018 after Pristina introduced the 100 percent import tariffs on goods from Serbia in retaliation, as it said, for Belgrade’s diplomatic offensive to prevent Kosovo’s Interpol membership.

So far, Vucic and Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci headed the delegations in the years-long negotiations, but Thaci said he would not talk to Lajčák who, as he said, sided with Belgrade.

In the meantime, Kurti decided to ban the import of goods from Serbia if it did not have the ‘Republic of Kosovo’ declaration, and Belgrade said no talks were possible before Pristina annulled that and some other measures.

After his elections, Hoti said his government would remove obstacles to the negotiations with Belgrade and that he hoped a final agreement would be reached and would include the mutual recognition, something that Serbia’s authorities pledged never to accept.

Kurti charged that Hoti would accept the change of borders or territory swap with Belgrade, what he said Vucic and Thaci agreed on secretly.

Brussels, and especially Berlin and Paris, are strongly against any border change, but Washington, which has the greatest influence on Pristina, has a bit more flexible view about the issue.

Belgrade also seems not entirely against the idea, though Vucic has never officially confirmed that, but said that “it is not possible that someone gets everything and the other nothing.”