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news/analysis 16 Jun 17

Delays in Forming Kosovo Govt Alarm Experts

Further delays in forming a new government and parliament will hurt both the European integration process and economic development, experts say.

Die Morina
The Government of Kosovo | Photo: BIRN

Experts warn that possible delays in the forming a government in Kosovo are likely to have a direct impact on the country’s accession processes and on the economy.

It remains unclear which parties will form the new government after the results of the 11 June election failed to grant immediate power to any one political entity or coalition.

Afrim Hoti, professor of International Law in Pristina University, told BIRN that further delay in establishing a government and parliament will likely have a negative impact on the process of Kosovo’s European integration.

“We are already late in the process of visa liberalization and integration,” Hoti told BIRN, referring to Kosovo’s demand for visa-free travel into the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone. “It would be unforgivable to cause further delays,” he added.

Hoti said establishing new institutions is a priority for Kosovo that should immediately be followed by fulfillment of the remaining conditions and criteria for visa liberalization – one of which is conclusion of a border agreement with Montenegro.

“Integration is a balance between the political goal of the country and the fulfillment of criteria set by the EU. We can only integrate … once we establish institutions and meet our duties. In any other circumstance, we can only enjoy the luxury of rhetoric and dream about integration,” he stated.

Delays to this process have a major, damaging impact on economic trends, Ibrahim Rexhepi, a Pristina-based expert on the economy, warned, “especially when it comes to many processes that are waiting for decisions that need to be taken by the assembly or by the government”.

Rexhepi mentioned delays in signing a contract for the construction of the “New Kosovo" power plant, which remains pending, as well as adoption of a fiscal package designed to improve the position of businesses and consumer standards.

According to Rexhepi, delays in forming new institutions have an immediate impact, as Kosovo’s economic growth remains fragile.

Rexhepi recalled what happened back in 2014 when the country experienced a full political and institutional blockade for six months.

“The economic development rate that year was the lowest in post-war history, there was no investment, and the balance of trade and employment rate was the worst,” he said.

A coalition led by the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, won most seats in Kosovo’s parliament in the election - but is far from forming a majority. It is also highly unlikely to agree a coalition with the second-placed party, Vetevendosje, which ran alone in the election. If the country is unable to form a new government, the President is obliged to call new elections.

The European Parliament and Rapporteur for Kosovo, Ulrike Lunacek, also urged the local politicians to work on establishing the institutions.

“I call on Kosovo parties to swiftly form a government to tackle the various challenges and to continue Kosovo’s path into the EU,” Lunacek said the next day after the elections.

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