Friday 15 December 2017

Western powers concerned at Kosovo political deadlock

Western powers concerned at Kosovo political deadlock
(AFP 08/13/17)

Leading western powers voiced concern Sunday at political deadlock in Kosovo, which has still not formed a government two months after snap elections in the tiny country, a former Serbian province.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and United States said it was "the responsibility of Kosovo's leaders" to form a parliament and government following the June ballots.

"We are concerned by the ongoing political situation in Kosovo," said a joint statement released by the countries' embassies in Pristina.

The statement was released following the new parliament's latest failure to vote in a speaker and enable the president to designate a prime minister after the inconclusive June 11 elections.

The newly-elected parliament failed Thursday to vote for a new speaker for a fourth time because lawmakers from President Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which won most seats at the snap election, declined to attend, as it had done three times before.

The PDK-led coalition came first at the elections but failed to win an absolute majority that would allow it to form a government alone.

However, it is the only one entitled to propose a candidate for the parliamentary speaker.

But it is avoiding doing so, hoping to strike an overall agreement with other parties to win the support for the government at the same time.

Only after the speaker is elected and parliament is constituted can Thaci propose a candidate for prime minister, who then has 15 days to form a government.

- 'European perspective' -

The parliament is set to convene on Monday in another attempt to elect the speaker, but there is no deadline for doing so.

Expressing hope that "Kosovo's leaders, both in politics and civil society, will take the lead in resolving this issue" the five western countries said that "an important first principle" for solving the deadlock.

This was "that deputies elected to the Kosovo Assembly should attend Assembly sessions and allow its work to begin," they said.

Kosovo has to deal with a number of issues, including "the need for economic development, strengthening of the rule of law, Kosovo's European perspective and Kosovo's relationship with Serbia," the statement said.

"Kosovo's citizens deserve an Assembly and government that can meet these challenges," it added.

Kosovo, a former Serbian province whose 1.8 million-strong population are mainly ethnic Albanians, is one of the poorest countries in Europe.

It declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after the 1998-1999 independence war that ended after a 11-week long NATO bombing campaign against Serbia.

The war left 13,000 people dead, the vast majority of them ethnic Albanians.

More than 110 countries have recognised Kosovo's independence including the United States and most European Union members, but Serbia has refused to do so.

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