As militarists are voted out in Kosovo, is there a chance for peace?

The party of incumbent prime minister Ramush Haradinaj lost to the center-left Levizja Vetevendosje (Movement for Self-Determination) and the Democratic League of Kosovo

October 24, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Kosovo elections
The center-left Vetëvendosje and the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo have opened coalition talks to form a new government in the country.

In the parliamentary elections held in the disputed territory of Kosovo in the beginning of the month, the center-right Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), headed by the former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, lost to the center-left Levizja Vetevendosje (Movement for Self-Determination) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). Levizja Vetevendosje won 31 seats and 25.5% of the votes in the 120-seat national assembly, whereas LDK managed 30 seats with 24.82% of the vote. The conservative Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) is in the third position with 25 seats and 21.24% votes, while the AAK got only 14 seats with 11.57% of the votes.

Vetëvendosje, led by Albin Kurti, and the LDK have started coalition talks to form a new government in the country. As many as 10 members from the Serb List that represents the Serb minorities in the Kosovo parliament have been elected. At the same time, another pro-KLA contingent, the NISMA–AKR–PD, has also been voted out.

Elections were called after the resignation of Ramush Haradinaj on July 19. Haradinaj, a former officer and leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), had resigned from his post after being summoned for questioning by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (KSC & SPO) in the Hague, Netherlands. 

The KSC & SPO are conducting trials of members of the KLA, an ethnic Albanian paramilitary organization that was involved in the Kosovo war and committed crimes against the ethnic Serbs and other political opponents. 

Kosovo declared self-independence in February 2008, a decade after the armed ethnic conflict (February 1998 – June 1999) between the Kosovo Albanians backed by the NATO forces, and the ethnic Serbs supported by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The legality of the declaration has been disputed by Serbia. 

Meanwhile, the post-conflict trials have been widely criticized by progressive sections and human rights groups as being biased and unilateral, only targeting the Serbian authorities. Several Yugloslav Serbian leaders have been indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). On the other hand, for a long while, there was no accountability for the atrocities and bombings by the NATO alliance. It was only in 2017 that the KSC & SPO was established and the trials of the crimes committed by members of the KLA began. 

Vladimir Unkovski-Korica from the Marks21 group opined in LeftEast that an alliance with the center-right LDK must not distract the left-leaning Vetëvendosje from strengthening the anti-imperialist and anti-war leftist pole in Kosovo. He also advocated an agenda to advance the reconciliation process between the different ethnic groups in the country, and with Serbia. Under the leadership of the Haradinaj, the reconciliation talks with Serbia had not proceeded much. The presence of NATO forces in Kosovo and Metohija has also been a stumbling block to peace talks in the region.

However, some political sections remain skeptical of the possibility of peace. The League of Yugoslav Communist Youth (SKOJ) told Peoples Dispatch that Kosovo is still under the occupation of the imperialist forces of the west. “The government there is a puppet of Brussels and Washington, mostly made up of war criminals who work as marionettes. The party which won the majority of votes in the recent elections is also of the same kind. Their course of action is also likely to remain the same in order to create new conflicts between the Serbian and the Albanian population, thus making up new reasons for the continued imperialist occupation of Kosovo.”