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Kosovo parliament taps Avdullah Hoti as new premier

June 3, 2020

Avdullah Hoti has emerged as Kovoso's new center-right prime minister, promising a "final deal" with Serbia. His predecessor Albin Kurti was toppled in March and failed to force fresh elections.

Kosovo's Avdullah Hoti
Image: AFP/A. Nimani

Kosovo's parliament in a razor-thin majority voted 61-24 to install Avdullah Hoti as prime minister of a new coalition cabinet, supported Wednesday by two smaller ethnic Albanian parties.

The vote overcame a two-month blockade by outgoing leader Albin Kurti, whose nationalist-leftist Self-Determination Movement party, or Vetevendosje party (VV), lost a confidence vote in March but a court ruled that fresh elections were not needed. 

Members of VV did not attend Wednesday's parliamentary vote.

Hoti, who President Hashim Thaci had officially proposed for the post, was opposed by 24 lawmakers in the vote, with one abstention. 

Frail coalition, then no-confidence defeat

Hoti, 44, an economics professor belonging to the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), had been deputy premier since a snap election last October that saw Kurti and his VV head a frail coalition.

Addressing parliament, Hoti said he would strive for a "final deal" between Kosovo and Serbia, including free trade, but "without any change of borders."

Big powers press for dialog

Resuming dialog has been repeatedly sought by the European Union and the United States as crucial for any Serbian EU membership.

Russia, which is a Serbian ally, has blocked Kosovan membership of international organizations, including the United Nations.

Facilitated talks stalled in 2018 after Kosovo's then-government set a heavy tariff on imports from Serbia which refuses to recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.

Kosovo was part of Serbia until 1998 when an ethnic Albanian majority uprising triggered a Serb crackdown. 

A subsequent NATO bombing campaign forced out Serbian troops. 

ipj/stb (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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Catchwords: Kosovo, Serbia, Avdullah Hoti, LDK, trade barriers, internationally facilitated dialog, EU, Russia, stalled talks, Balkans, Albin Kurti