- George Zimmerman will not be charged in domestic dispute
- Russian officials press bilateral U.S. trade deal
- Selfies at Funerals blog creator retires after Obama flub: ‘Our work here is done’
- New Obama adviser Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- 40 Australian adults, children found in ‘one of the worst accounts of incest ever made public’
- Venezuela’s Maduro calls on student ‘price vigilantes’ to hit the streets, report businesses
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Bow before Valkyrie, NASA’s ‘superhero robot’ entry in DARPA challenge
- 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy suspended for pretend bow-and-arrow shooting
- Budget deal exposes GOP divisions; conservatives slam tax hikes, vague cuts
Kosovo’s 1st ballot since break from Serbia
Election puts off talks with Belgrade
Question of the Day
Kosovo is preparing to hold its first national elections since its 2008 secession from Serbia after a surprise collapse of its coalition government, delaying European Union-sponsored talks between Pristina and Belgrade.
“The elections have come to the forefront,” said Kosovar Ambassador to the United States Avni Spahiu in an interview. “Everybody’s talking about the elections, not about the talks. This new element makes it hard to say when the talks will start, and the government has issued no deadline.”
Kosovo’s coalition government — an alliance between Prime Minister Hashim Thaci’s center-left Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and recently departed President Fatmir Sejdiu’s center-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) — unraveled over the weekend, when the LDK announced its departure.
Mr. Sejdiu resigned the presidency late last month after the nation’s Constitutional Court ruled that he could not be president and leader of his party at the same time. The party’s ministers formally submitted their resignations Monday.
According to Kosovo’s constitution, elections must be held within 45 days if Mr. Thaci is unable to form a caretaker administration within a week.
The government’s collapse comes just days after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited the region and expressed support for Kosovo’s independence and for the talks with Serbia, which the U.S. is expected to supervise with the European Union.
Mrs. Clinton’s husband was president when NATO launched a 78-day bombing campaign that expelled then-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s forces from the long-repressed province.
Daniel Serwer, who served as a senior U.S. diplomat in the Balkans during the 1990s, said that though he thought “the natural thing would be for the talks not to start until after the elections,” it was possible there would be “informal contacts” beforehand.
The delay is “a good thing because both Pristina and Belgrade need time to prepare,” he said.
Mr. Spahiu reaffirmed his government’s insistence that “peace talks will be focused on practical issues, just like any other neighboring countries.”
“There will be no talks on status, no talks on changing borders, no talks on granting any kind of special status to the [Serb-majority] north of the country,” he said.
He said he does not foresee the talks becoming a major issue in the coming campaign, noting that “there is a general consensus that Kosovo should participate in these talks.”
Kosovo has its own domestic problems, ranging from a 45 percent unemployment rate to widespread corruption in the public sector.
“It looks like Prime Minister Thaci is in pretty good position for the elections,” Mr. Serwer said, noting the “uncertainty” facing the other major parties.
The LDK is facing a leadership battle. And former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj — leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), another center-right party — is facing trial in The Hague before the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for war crimes he is accused of having committed as an officer in the Kosovo Liberation Army.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- KIBBE: Another Republican budget surrender
- Study IDs reasons for late-term abortions
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Obama administration blasts GOP for criticism of Castro handshake
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
Buzz on Bees is a column promoting the love and life of God’s greatest pollinators on earth: The Honeybee
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow