2014-12-09 18:51:00

Kosovo parliament approves new government after tensions

(Vatican Radio) Legislators have approved a new government in Kosovo, including the first prime minister who has had no association with rebels who won the territory's independence from Serbia in 2008. The new government will oversee the young nation's efforts to join the European Union and, for the first time, Kosovo's participation in the Olympics.  

Listen to Stefan Bos’ report:

Parliament accepted a coalition government which involves the former mayor of the capital Pristina, Isa Mustafa, becoming the new prime minister. He takes over from Hashim Thaci, who led the Balkan nation since it unilaterally proclaimed independence in 2008. Yet, Thaci remains in government as his deputy and foreign minister.

The vote came after Mustafa’s pacifist Democratic League of Kosovo and Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo signed a seal, half a year after the general election was held in Kosovo in June. 

Bickering among political rivals had prevented the formation of a new cabinet until Tuesday's 65 percent vote of approval.


The appointment of the 63-year-old Mustafa marks a new era. He is the first prime minister who had no links to rebels who fought Kosovo's separatist war against Serbia in 1998 and 1999.

Outgoing Prime Minister Thaci led some of these fighters and he has been been accused of war crimes. Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty alleged that Thaci and four high-ranking members of his party were part of a group involved in the sale abroad of organs removed from Serb prisoners during the war.

Thaci has always denied those charges. It's now up to Mustafa to improve Kosovo's image abroad. He already got moral support Tuesday, from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  

A news flash on Kosovo's television made a major announcement with a visibly happy woman explaining that the IOC granted full recognition to Kosovo. It means the Balkan country can for the first time send athletes to the Olympics, starting with Rio de Janeiro Summer games in 2016, despite opposition from Serbia which views Kosovo as its province.   


Kosovo has so far been recognized by more than 100 countries but blocked from becoming a member of the United Nations by Serbia's big-power ally Russia.

Mustafa inherits an economy that is growing, though it remains dependent on remittances from Kosovars working abroad and on foreign assistance.

Kosovo is also struggling to attract outside investors, wary over the republic's reputation as a haven for organized crime and corruption. At least a third of the workforce is unemployed. 

Mustafa has pledged "economic development, new jobs and welfare," as part of its efforts to join the European Union, one day.

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