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news 17 Jul 17

Kosovo Serbs MPs Mull Likely Partners in Parliament

As Kosovo's political parties jostle for the right to form the next government, the country's ethnic Serbian MPS have yet to decide which coalition or party to support.

Die Morina, Sanja Sovrlic
Slavko Simic, the leader of Srpska Lista. Photo: Beta

After winning nine seats in parliament in Kosovo in the recent general election, Lista Srpska, the main coalition representing the Serbian community, has yet to decide which party or coalition to support in forming the new goverment.

“Lista Srpska cannot choose the representatives of Kosovo Albanians but ... we will only agree with those who change their attitude towards Serbs, that is, those who respect Serbian interests and work to respect the rights of Serbs and improve the position of the Serbian people,” Igor Simic, from Lista Srpska, told BIRN on Friday.

“We will decide who we will support following talks within Lista Srpska,” he added.

Kosovo has yet to form a new government after the June 11 general election in which no party or coalition clinched a convincing victory.

Fresh talks between the parties and coalitions that won the most votes failed to yield a breakthrough last week.

PAN, the coalition led by the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, consisting also of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, the Initiative for Kosovo, NISMA, and nine other smaller parties - came first after winning 34 per cent of the votes and taking 39 seats in the assembly. However, this was not enough for the coalition to form a majority in the 120-seat chamber.

The attempt by the PAN prime ministerial candidate and AAK leader Ramush Haradinaj to hold consultative meetings on forming a government was rejected last Tuesday by the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, which came second with 29 seats and by the Vetevendosje party, which has 32 MPs.

Vetevendosje, now the biggest single political party in Kosovo, hopes to form a minority government on its own with the support of other, smaller parties.

Momcilo Trajkovic, from the Serbian National Forum, said a coalition with Vetevendosje might prove more beneficial for Kosovo and for Serbs.

“For the Kosovo Serbs, a coalition with Albin Kurti, who has clean hands, is more acceptable than a coalition with Haradinaj,” Trajkovic told Voice of America on Thursday, referring to Haradinaj's important and controversial role in the war of independence from Serbia.

But Velgzim Kamberi, from Vetevendosje, told BIRN that his formation preferred to create a parliamentary alliance with the LDK, the AAK and a third party, Alternative, “which will not depend on Srpska Lista.

“Vetevendosje will [only] invite into government those entities and individuals from the Serbian community who are not the long arm of Belgrade,” Kamberi said, referring to Srpska Lista's close ties to the Serbian government.

Ethnic Serb politicians play an important role in Kosovo politics because so-called laws of special importance not only need the votes of two-thirds of all MPs but also the votes of two-thirds of the ethnic minority MPs in parliament. In total, the minorities have 20 seats.

Serbian MPs have not shrunk from using their parliamentary power to block key processes, such as the much talked-about formation of a regular army.

The transformation of Kosovo's current lightly-armed Security Force into an Armed Force requires a change to the constitution and, as such, the support of at least 14 of the 20 ethnic minority MPs.

The government of Kosovo is also obliged to include minority parties.

Srpska Lista has had close ties with Belgrade since its formation and has often served as Belgrade’s voice in Pristina.

The head of the Serbian Office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, said that Srpska Lista should not hurry its decision and, in the meantime, should allow the Albanian parties to agree on forming a future government, if they can.

“My advice to Serbian political representatives will be: go slowly. Do not rush, let the Albanians agree with each other, and then we will slowly, through talks with Srpska Lista, define what our interest in this story is, and whether there is [an interest],” Djuric told journalists on July 7, Serbia's Tanjug news agency reported.


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