Kosovo’s parliament elected a new government on Wednesday with a new prime minister Abdullah Hoti promising to reach a deal on normalizing ties with Serbia.
The new government was voted for by 61 deputies in the 120-seat parliament. But only 86 MPs were present in the chamber because MPs from Self-Determination (Vetevendosje) movement, the largest party in parliament, did not attend, while the head of the Vetevendosje parliamentary group, Rexhep Selimi, dismissed the new government as an “illegal enterprise”.
The new government is a coalition between the LDK, which has 28 seats, the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA) with four seats, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) with 13 seats, and the Belgrade-backed ethnic Serbian party, Serb List, with 10 seats.
“We believe the dialogue with Serbia to achieve the overall agreement, based on the reciprocal recognition of the two countries, is of vital interest for Kosovo,” Hoti said. “We will not allow any change of the borders or exchange of territories [with Serbia].”
Hoti, a member of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), has promised to remove all trade barriers for goods coming from Serbia, as urged by both the United States and the European Union, to resume a Brussels-sponsored dialogue which was interrupted in 2018.
But he did not say whether he would reverse a “reciprocity” demand previous government, led by the Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti, made that would require Serbian authorities to apply the same documentation standards for their exported goods to Kosovo as they require for Kosovo goods.
Hoti was deputy PM in Kurti’s government, which was dismissed in a no-confidence vote in March after disputes over its handling of the coronavirus crisis and lifting 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods.
A small number of Vetevendosje supporters protested outside the parliament building. Police intervened when some of the protesters tried to enter the building.