Kosovo PM agrees to new elections in north after US phonecall
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti said he would call new elections in the north of Kosovo following a phonecall with United States Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer on Thursday and after increased EU member state pressure.
The call comes after the US laid down sanctions against Kosovo, which it blames for rising tensions and conflicts in Serb-majority municipalities. These included cancelling Kosovo’s participation in the NATO Defender 2023 military exercise, assisting Kosovo with lobbying non-recognisers and gaining membership to international organisations.
However, Kurti said that the violence supported by Belgrade must be ended before elections can be called.
“Pleased to speak w/ POTUS Principal Deputy NSA Jon Finer. Thanked him for his call & committed to work w/ USA to de-escalate tensions. This requires an immediate end to violence by Belgrade-sponsored mobs against security officers until new elections in those municipalities,” he wrote on Twitter.
The President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, also confirmed that Kosovo is ready to organise new elections in the north. Osmani said that this request was made by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz.
“I told him that we are ready to consider this possibility”, Osmani said.
Commenting on the deterioration of relations with the US, Kurti said he is in daily communication with US Ambassador Jeffery Hovenier and respects him, but the people, not the ambassador, appointed him.
“I have to be God to these people because they brought me to the chair. I have a special respect for Hovenier, even very special, but the people voted for me, not the ambassador. It is not an appointment by the prime minister”, Kurti said on KTV.
Kurti added that it is normal not to agree with everything foreign ambassadors say.
“I have been cooperating with QUINT ambassadors, the EU and the American, for two years. We don’t always agree on everything. It is not normal to agree on everything”, Kurti emphasised.
He added that while the US reaction to the situation is “worrying”, more worrying is the “fascist militias” in the north.
Kurti also reiterated the number of concessions Kosovo has made to foreign diplomats over the last few months.
“In December they said postpone the elections, we postponed the elections. Masandej recognised the elections. Then they said not to take the oath, but there can be no other job. I have daily communication with the American ambassador, almost weekly meetings. Don’t expect me to agree with the ambassador on everything,” Kurti said.
In addition to the sanctions already levied against Kosovo by the US, Hovenier said that US officials may refuse to meet Pristina stakeholders.
“We would be surprised if, under the current circumstances, there would be readiness for meetings of high officials, both from the USA and Kosovo, and vice versa.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday, two Albanians were reported injured in Mitrovica, according to journalist Xhemajl Rexha. He said that two police intervened and the injured were sent to the hospital for treatment.
Ethnic Albanians also protested during the day in South Mitrovica and attempted to cross the Ibri bridge, which separates the mainly ethnic Albanian area from the mainly ethnic Serb area.
Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla said such protests “do not help” Kosovo.
(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)