Kosovo’s government faces a major crisis only a few weeks after taking power as one of the coalition partners is threatening to walk out of government.
On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, also leader of the Movement for Self-Determination party (LVV), fired its Minister of Interior Agim Veliu of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). Kurti deemed that Veliu had publicly opposed government’s approach not to support President Thaçi’s proposal for declaring a state of emergency, and had incited panic in public over the spread of coronavirus.
LDK leader Isa Mustafa was quick to call the firing “unacceptable and breach of their governing coalition agreement [between LVV and LDK]”.
Mustafa disclosed that according to the agreement between the two parties, a cabinet member proposed by the LDK cannot be dismissed by the Prime Minister without prior consultation with LDK’s leader. He gave Kurti an ultimatum to revoke the minister’s dismissal and lift the tariff on Serbian goods until weekend. Otherwise “the Prime Minister’s unilateral actions are harmful, unacceptable and [would] bring the coalition to an end,” Mustafa concluded.
The fall off between the two governing allies comes amidst another crisis regarding the lifting of tariffs on Serbian goods.
PM Kurti introduced in early February a two-step plan to phase out the tariffs, which demanded Serbia reciprocates by stopping efforts to undermine Kosovo’s international recognition before the full removal of tariffs.
American administration, which has taken the leading role in the international efforts to bring Kosovo and Serbia back to the negotiations table, pushed instead for an immediate and unconditional removal of all tariffs.
LDK took the American position and called out on Kurti to drop his plan and lift all tariffs without delay.
Some of LDK’s statements on this matter have been very critical of Kurti, accusing him of hurting Kosovo’s relations with the US, which has increased tensions between the two governing partners.
The latest turn will most likely be a major test for coalition’s survival. If the coalition government breaks down, Kosovo would be poised for snap elections, only a few months after the October ballot.