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Kosovo’s parliament voted Saturday evening on Ramush Haradinaj’s new government. A total of five deputy prime ministers, 21 ministers, and some 50 deputy ministers have been confirmed by the small country’s parliament.
— Petrit Selimi (@Petrit) September 9, 2017
Agron Bajrami, Editor-in-Chief of Kosovo’s largest daily Koha Ditore, said on Twitter on Saturday evening[en] that “all opposition MPs walked out before the vote,” explaining that the MPs who boycotted the vote wanted a debate before the vote[en] and that this will further divide Kosovo’s parliament.
The vote was initially scheduled for 4 p.m. local time, but was delayed by several hours, allegedly because Serb-minority MPs were late coming back from consultations in Belgrade. The Serbian minority representatives stood to take three ministry and even six deputy minister seats in today’s vote, as reported earlier on Saturday by Kosovar news site Pristina24.
Though there are claims that any discussion ahead of the vote was denied by parliament in fear that it would lead to heated discussion regarding Serbia’s influence on Kosovo and its government, newly confirmed Prime Minister Haradinaj addressed parliament in Serbian at one point, saying he would be a prime minister to everyone, including minorities. With opposition MPs boycotting the vote, what finally put the votes over the top were the votes from the Serbian List MPs. The new government was confirmed with 61 votes in favor, while only one abstained.
The hefty new government was immediately sworn in and Prime Minister Haradinaj addressed parliament.
According to regional investigative reporting site Balkan Insight, experts have said in recent days that the new, unusually large cabinet could cost Kosovo an additional €5 billion over Haradinaj’s four-year term, in comparison to what is actually needed to operate the country efficiently.
Director of Prishtina-based think tank FOL Petrit Zogaj, spoke to Balkan Insight[en] just ahead of the vote and said that the large number of ministers would create a “communication gap”, turning decision-making and overall efficiency into a very difficult process.
“The Haradinaj government[…] looks more like a shareholder company, in which each shareholder seeks to benefit to the maximum within the enterprise, rather than a unified body in which the public interest dominates its work,” Zogaj explained.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, a move that Serbia has called unilateral, refusing to acknowledge the country’s independence for the last decade. In August 2015, Kosovo and Serbia signed a series of agreements, after extensive negotiations mediated by the EU in Brussels, which was considered a major step towards normalizing relations. There have, however, been several complications since and the two countries are set for another round of talks.
Feature image source credit: Supporting Ramush Haradinaj, by Quinn Dombrowski, 2010 [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons