The former guerrilla commander accused by Serbia of war crimes, Ramush Haradinaj is on course to become Kosovo’s prime minister following general elections in the Balkan country.
Results from Sunday’s election showed that a broad coalition, dubbed the “war wing” because of its association with former guerrillas from the 1998-99 Kosovo-Serbia war, had over 34 per cent after 91 per cent of the votes had been counted on Monday.
Ramush Haradinaj, the centre-right coalition’s candidate for prime minister, is wanted by Belgrade for war crimes allegedly committed during the war, and earlier this year tried to have him extradited to face trial.
Belgrade still refuses to recognise its former province as an independent state, and the presence and status of a Serb minority in Kosovo has been a constant source of friction between the two foes.
The election comes at a time of mounting unease in the western Balkans. Rising ethnic tensions and nationalism have reanimated old divisions, prompting warnings of a possible return to conflict.
Russia has stepped into exploit a power void left by a West distracted by domestic concerns, in an effort to stymie EU and NATO expansion.
Mr Vucic also welcomed the formation of a united Serb bloc in Kosovo that “will be protecting the interests of Serbia and Serbs” in the country. But the president added that he would continue with a dialogue with Pristina in order “to preserve peace and stability”.
The victorious coalition faces formidable challenges, if it takes office as expected. Unemployment stands at 30 per cent, the national health service is struggling to function, and it will have to decide on the fate of a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro.
The EU has set the ratification of the agreement as a condition for granting Kosovo citizens visa-free access to the Schengen zone, but in the past some of the winning coalition parties, opposed it claiming it would hand land over to Montenegro.
(The Daily Telegraph, 12.06.2017)
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