The mining industry has been very important to the economy but has been hampered by old-fashioned equipment and low investment. With international help, the majority of the large state-owned companies have been privatized, but ownership has often been difficult to find out.
In the mining industry, the most important Trepča combination is near Mitrovica, with deposits of lead, zinc and silver. It was once Yugoslavia’s most significant mining industry, but during the 2000s, it conducted a modest business in anticipation of privatization and that uncertainty about ownership, assets and claims should be resolved with Serbia. Following a threat of bankruptcy, in October 2016, despite protests from Serbia, Kosovo’s parliament decided to take full control of the mine and turn it into a public limited company where the state will own 80 percent and its employees 20 percent.
During the 2000s, the construction industry became more important. At the same time, a small-scale private industry has emerged. Lack of qualified labor and uneven electricity supply has a declining effect on investments. There is also lack of knowledge in marketing and distribution.
The President charged with war crimes
President Hashim Thaçi, along with nine others, has been indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, by the special prosecutor in The Hague (SPO), the prosecutor says. A judge at the special court (KSC) who also exists The Hague will decide whether there will be a trial against the head of state. Few details of the prosecution are made public, but it deals with almost 100 murders, tortures and disappearances during the war against Serbia 1998-1999. Thaçi and another politician covered by the prosecution, Kadri Veseli, are also accused of trying to “hinder and undermine” the SPO’s work. Thaçi denies all charges.
The new government abolishes import restrictions
Three days after Avdullah Hoti took office as new prime minister, he announces that the government will abolish restrictions on imports of goods from Serbia. The border trade between the two countries has been a recurring source of disagreement and as recently as a week ago Hoti’s representatives tightened the regulatory framework. Avdullah Hoti has said that as prime minister he hopes to work for better relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
New government ready
Parliament votes by a margin for a new coalition government led by former Finance Minister Avdullah Hoti of the Kosovo Democratic Alliance (LDK). In addition to LDK, the coalition government also includes the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), the Serbian List (SL) and the Initiative for Kosovo (Nisma), and the government is supported in Parliament by nine representatives of ethnic minorities. Outgoing Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s party Vetëvendosje boycott the meeting. After months of political chaos, the new prime minister enters the wake of the declaration of confidence in Kurti in March (see March 25, 2020). Kurti, who has remained as acting prime minister, has demanded that new elections be held, but the Constitutional Court has rejected the claim (see May 28, 2020). Kurti’s supporters claim that the new government does not represent the will of the people and threatens big demonstrations.
New restrictions on imports from Serbia
The government announces that all goods imported from Serbia must be marked “intended for the Republic of Kosovo”. The rules thus force Serbian producers who want to export to the neighboring country in the south to recognize its independence. It breathes new life into the trade conflict that has characterized relations between the countries since Kosovo declared itself independent in February 2008. In April this year, Kosovo abolished 100 percent duty on Serbian goods (see April 1, 2020), but now new restrictions are being introduced. Serbian exports to Kosovo amount to nearly US $ 450 million every year.
Court stops new elections
According to the Constitutional Court, there is currently no basis for holding new elections. In a ruling, the court rejects the acting prime minister Albin Kurti’s request for an early parliamentary election to break the political deadlock and strengthen his mandate. Kurti, whose government coalition collapsed in March, remains in office for the time being but is in a tough political power struggle with the opposition and President Hashim Thaҫi. Kurti’s supporters have called for protests against the verdict next week.
No government assignment for LDK
The Constitutional Court stops President Hashim Thais’s attempt to bypass the acting prime minister Albin Kurti and commission the second largest party LDK to form government. Kurti lost a vote of no confidence in March but remains in the post for the time being because the ongoing corona pandemic makes it impossible to hold new elections. When Thaҫi on April 30, Kurti’s former alliance partner nominated LDK as new government leader, the Prime Minister reported him to the Constitutional Court. Kurti now gets right against his political rival Thaҫi and the court suspends new government formation until May 29. The hope is that it will be possible at the latest to start planning for new elections.
The Prime Minister accuses the US of a government crisis
Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti accuses US envoy, diplomat Richard Grenell, of being behind Kosovo’s ongoing government crisis. The political deadlock has occurred after Kurti lost a vote of no confidence (see March 25, 2020). According to Kurti, the US interest in a change of power is about trying to establish a new border between Kosovo and Serbia, thereby strengthening the US ties with Serbia. The charges come at the same time as Kurti’s former coalition partner, LDK leader Isa Mustafa, said he was ready to negotiate a new coalition government and take over as prime minister, a position he held between 2014 and 2017.
Quarantine is introduced in the capital since the number of new corona cases has increased rapidly. In total, however, there are still only a few hundred cases, and seven dead. The police guard the entrances to the city. A further 38 districts in Kosovo are already in quarantine.
Political deadlock exists
The formal final date for appointing a new prime minister passes without the political parties agreeing on a solution (see March 25, 2020). President Hashim Thaçi advocates a unifying government, but Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti and his Vetëvendosje party do not believe it is possible to put together a new coalition during the current crisis. Instead, Kurti wants to see new elections as soon as possible. He and President Thaçi attack each other in increasingly irreconcilable terms.
The 100% duty is lifted
The transitional government decides to abolish the duty of 100 percent on goods from Serbia that have been around for a year and a half (see November 2018 and January 2020). According to Prime Minister Albin Kurti, “reciprocity” should now be applied instead so that the same applies to goods in both directions across the border. The EU welcomes the message, but the US does not think it is enough but fears that “reciprocity” will create new problems. The US has withheld $ 50 million in aid to persuade Kosovo to lift tariffs.
Court annuls curfew
The Supreme Court ruled that the curfew imposed by Prime Minister Albin Kurti to halt the corona center is lawful and must be withdrawn by April 13. President Hashim Thaçi, who reported the case to the court, claims that it violates the constitution’s guarantees of free movement. Albin Kurti and the Ministry of the Interior have made a criminal complaint against Thaçi on the grounds that he is undermining the government’s attempt to deal with the pandemic (see March 23, 2020).
The government is falling
Prime Minister Albin Kurti loses the vote of no confidence announced by the coalition partner LDK, with numbers 82–32. Most of the MPs wear protective masks when voting is carried out, due to the coronas center. As the largest party, Kurtis Vetëvendosje now has two weeks to try to form a new government. New elections cannot be held at the moment, given the pandemic that causes already scheduled elections to be canceled in many countries. Many Kosovo residents are upset by the politicians’ handling of the crisis. Because curfew largely prevails, people stand in windows and on balconies and turn pots and blow in whistles, to show their displeasure.
Power struggle in the groove of the coron
The ongoing power struggle in Kosovo’s leadership becomes clear when President Hashim Thaçi urges residents not to care about the curfew imposed by the Left government the day before. The government urged people to stay in between 10am and 4pm, and respect the curfew at night. Thaci claims that the rules are unconstitutional and can only apply if an emergency permit is introduced. Parliament has not yet held the vote of no confidence which was raised a few days earlier.
Minister kicked off during corona crisis
Prime Minister Albin Kurti kicks a minister from the coalition party LDK, since he advocated the introduction of a state of emergency due to the corona crisis that shakes the world. Tensions have been evident within the newly-appointed government and LDK takes the dismissal as revenue to request a vote of no confidence. Kurti is opposed to introducing a state of emergency, which gives President Hashim Thaçi extensive powers of power.
The Prime Minister promises to cut tariffs
New Prime Minister Albin Kurti gives in to Western pressure when he promises, at least in part, to lower the soaring tariffs on goods from Serbia. Kurti states that duties on raw materials will be abolished on March 15, as a sign of good will to resolve the economic dispute with Serbia. If Serbia takes steps to stop the campaign for recognition of Kosovo (see November 2018), the rest of the tariff will be removed, according to Kurti. However, US envoy Richard Grenell says a “half-mess” is not enough and Kurti’s representative as head of government Ramush Haradinaj calls Kurti a “traitor” who capitulates to Serbia.
First indictment in The Hague Court
Prosecutors in the special court KSC in The Hague have brought their first charges of war crimes committed by Kosovo Albanians during the war in the late 1990s. The charges are confidential and the court does not name the suspects but several high-ranking people have previously been called to the court for questioning, including former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. In total, over 100 Kosovo Albanians should have been called for questioning. A judge now has up to six months to decide whether to go to trial. KSC was established with the support of the EU in 2015 to investigate war crimes. The Court is located in The Hague for security reasons.
New government approved
Four months after the election, Parliament finally approves a coalition government between the two electoral victories Vëtevendosje and LDK, which the day before announced that they have now agreed on the division of responsibilities between themselves. The message came a day before the deadline set by President Hashim Thaçi expired. Vëtevendosje’s leader Albin Kurti becomes prime minister as expected. The government is approved by 66 votes out of 120 possible. Ten members cast their votes while the opposition leaves the hall before the vote. According to the government agreement, Vëtevendosje and LDK receive five ministerial posts each, while parties representing minorities receive three ministerial posts. The largest minority party, the Serbian list, stands outside the government. The issue of the presidential post has so far been postponed for the future (see December 2019). Former Speaker Glauk Konjufca becomes Foreign Minister, so that post should also be added.
Ultimatum on government formation
President Hashim Thaçi gives the two electoral winners from October two weeks to form government, in an attempt to accelerate the process. This is done through a decree officially appointing Vetëvendosje’s leader Albin Kurti as prime ministerial candidate, with the task of presenting his ministers within the specified time frame. If Kurti fails, Thaçi must appoint another prime ministerial candidate within ten days, otherwise it will be a new election.