Kosovo PM Kurti bows to US, EU pressure, promises elections in North Kosovo–but there is a twist

Pressure from the US and the EU appeared to force the hand of Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti Tuesday, as he has now stated that a new, five-point plan to diffuse tensions in North Kosovo will also include early elections.

There was a twist on the announcement, however, as Kurti noted that “violent Serbian groups” had been removed from Kosovo, adding that this would enable reduced tensions. This statement came almost simultaneously with news that Milun Milenkovic-Lune, allegedly a key organizer during protests and attacks on Kosovo police and KFOR troops, had been arrested.

Kurti also threw in another twist, staing that the Kosovo special police presence would be upped in the region to ensure security.
Ethnic Serbs have protested for more than two weeks over elections, which they boycotted and which saw participation of only 3.5 percent. The Kosovo government treated the elections as valid, however, and shuffled in elected mayors under police protection. This spurred a violent reaction among locals that left some 30 KFOR troops injured—and which also resulted in Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic putting Serb troops on the border on high alert.

While early elections come as a key concessions—and at the behest of the US and EU—the aforementioned twists are unlikely to go down well with protesting ethnic Serbs, who have claimed that Kosovo police, who are primarily ethnic Albanian, harass citizens with the threat of violence.

Moreover, Kurti still has resisted calls for a “community of Serb municipalities,” which was promised in a 2013 agreement but never fulfilled. This remains a sticking point in efforts to “normalize” relations between the two states—a process that was much lauded by the EU to the point that mediators claimed and agreement was in place, but which has seen very little in the way of tangible results.

File photo: Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on July 26, 2022. [State Department photo by Freddie Everett/ Public Domain].

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