Perspectives | Politics

Kosovo’s deplorable political class has been laid bare

By - 27.03.2020

Toppling the government amidst COVID-19 pandemic exposes inexcusable disdain for human life.

On Wednesday evening, following a 12-hour Assembly session, 82 deputies voted for the motion of no confidence that brought down Kosovo’s government on its 52nd day.

It’s being called a moment for the history books of the future — that of an irresponsible and deplorable political class that yet again chose narrow self-serving politics over state safekeeping and leadership; that of political leaders and deputies chasing and causing turmoil at a time when a pandemic is threatening our local and global home. 

All at a time when solidarity should serve as the bedrock to society and governing, and political debate centered around recognizing the needs of the most vulnerable, the inflicted, or the suffering.

But there has been no solidarity. Neither has there been recognition of anyone other than themselves.

No recognition for the 86 individuals so far diagnosed with Covid-19 in Kosovo, and the 82-year-old man who passed away as a result.

No recognition for the doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists and other health professionals, who being at the frontline of the fight have had to give up having any contact with or ability to taking care of their loved ones, while potentially risking their own lives. All while we enter the most crucial week of the COVID-19 outbreak, with a health system largely left in shackles from accumulated misgovernance and misconduct. 

No recognition for workers across some of the largest employment industries — such as those in construction, services or retail — who face increased financial uncertainty because their jobs cannot be done at home. Or for small businesses, who have been forced to close their doors indefinitely, and with it often their only source of household income. Or for the supermarket cashiers, bakers, gas station workers or waste collectors who have no choice but to continue going out to work each day and put themselves in potential harm’s way. Or for those in the informal sector — the childcare providers, cleaners and carers.

No recognition for single mothers, whose already difficult task of balancing working for an income with childcare has now become immeasurably harder. 

Kosovo’s political class has permanently failed the citizens.

No recognition for citizens in smaller towns or rural areas, where water is a luxury — not only do they lack access to water as the main source of preventing infection, but they also lack drinking water as a fundamental human right.

No recognition for the women that are victims of domestic abuse, who are now confined and trapped within four walls with their abuser.

No recognition of families who are divided across the continent or across the world, who are fearing for each other’s safety and wellbeing, not knowing when they will next see or touch each other, with borders closed for the foreseeable future and fallouts of the virus unknown.

No recognition for grandparents, who might continue to be advised for longer periods of time to not visit or have physical contact with their grandchildren due to the risk of exposure.

No recognition for the mental health of the population in general — many already dealing with acute traumas from the past — who are now cooped up in small apartments, surrounded again by uncertainty and fear.

No recognition for human life. 

Kosovo’s political class has permanently failed the citizens.

Their inhumanity exposed; their ignorance laid bare.  

Thaçi’s coup d’état

There are many culprits, and much can be said about what combination of political motives, actions or (hidden) agendas were most at play. Pundits and social media “influencers” have been hard at it as this political fiasco has been unfolding. 

The increased pressure, specifically from the U.S., on Kosovo’s government to remove the 100% tax on Serbia’s goods is what made LDK’s already weak, subservient character crumble. They accepted it as an instruction, and chose servility over citizen guardianship. 

“Leaders” who are ready and willing to deliver and act as instructed — whether directly or through relentless pressure — end up not only bypassing democratically elected institutions, but also removing citizens from consideration. And a discourse that places the decision over the tariff as pro-American or anti-American is not just a simplification, but a cheap and dangerous attempt to discredit or lynch anyone who might think differently. 

Twenty years after the war, it is important to remember that the U.S. is Kosovo’s ally and partner — but it is not Kosovo, and Kosovo is not the U.S. Forgetting this is to move dangerously close to the nationalist rhetoric spewed from Belgrade.  

If there is one person whose calculated, willful and ill-intended actions have only incited antagonism, division and confusion, that is the man whose constitutional position requires him to unite.

It also perhaps should not come as much of a surprise that a coalition that took four months to form amidst disagreements over distributing posts and positions — instead of over policies or governing visions — ended up falling apart partly due to people-driven conflicts.  

The outgoing Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s sacking of LDK’s Agim Veliu, Minister of Internal Affairs — who supported President Hashim Thaçi’s call for a State of Emergency, contrary to his government’s decision — can be read as a provocation triggered by any of the three men. 

None should escape their own portion of responsibility.

But if there is one person whose calculated, willful and ill-intended actions have only incited antagonism, division and confusion, that is the man whose constitutional position requires him to unite.

President Hashim Thaçi is the contradiction to such a role, someone whose political career has been built on dishonesty and manipulation, to say the least. His recent maneuvers, from single-handedly announcing plans for calling a State of Emergency to making an extraordinary public address calling on citizens to disrespect government measures intended to limit the spread of COVID-19, is yet another attempt to benefit from a fragile, uncertain moment. 

These actions should not be taken lightly or shrugged off as just another deceitful, expectable political move, fitting his cunning character. Instead, they confirm that if and when presented with the opportunity, he will seek to install himself as supreme ruler. 

Thaçi’s actions have been nothing short of a coup d’état. 

It’s a trend that the current crisis will risk expanding across countries with political leaders who are already acting like oligarchs and working to capture the main areas of public, economic or political life. Thaçi has been in the making for the role for at least the past 12 years, since Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence.

Some may well be “pleased” that Kosovo's government fell at such a critical juncture — be it bullying and insecure foreign administrations, a disgraced opposition, a sly president...

He seems to have support in that; not from the citizens, but from the other guardian of Kosovo, the U.S. 

The ever-erratic Trump administration, desperately seeking something it can sell as a “win,” is also keen on supporting those that resemble them the most. Thaçi is “their guy” — with his disregard for transparency or truth, his indifference toward true democratic processes, his disdain for anything other than his own survival. If any doubts in this remained, they have surely been allayed for all but the most partisan or willfully blinkered by the U.S. statements in recent days. 

It took 24 hours for the U.S. to release a statement after Kosovo’s government was brought down, and that statement made no reference at all to the remarkable events of the day before. Ahead of the session, the U.S. ambassador in Kosovo had gone back on a joint statement as part of the QUINT countries, urging to “preserve and ensure the functionality and integrity of Kosovo’s government and institutions,” following it hours later by a tweet stating how he was “pleased” that the motion of no confidence session was to be held

Some may well be “pleased” that Kosovo’s government fell at such a critical juncture — be it bullying and insecure foreign administrations, a disgraced opposition, a sly president, a cowardly entrenched political elite and their personal and financial interests, or even on some level a proud outgoing prime minister and his party, who believe that they will only return stronger from this episode.

And as many have argued in these past days — it is likely, and to be hoped, that these actions will not be forgotten further down the road. 

But in the more immediate, short-term, we enter uncertain political terrain, amidst all the other wider uncertainties about how to end the global pandemic, and what Kosovo, and the world, will look like when we get out on the other side.

Citizens, not subjects

One day following the fall of government, the first recovery of a patient with COVID-19 in Kosovo was announced. In an effort to associate himself with the good news, Thaçi took to Twitter with a message of gratitude for the medical staff and, as if suffering from short-term amnesia at the destruction he had helped to wreak the previous day, added “we’re in this together.” 

So, he continues to behave like a king; a king looking to capture his kingdom. And with kings, ultimately, those around them somehow end up beheaded. Similar to his son’s Instagram post, shortly after the government’s demise, of “Father” Thaçi cutting tree branches in their garden, photoshopped to depict Kurti’s decapitation. A message of a king — and heir — in the making?

It is these types of “politics,” that might often leave one feeling conflicted — what is the Kosovo that we have been striving for or hoping to achieve?

Nor are citizens spectators, however much all of this might resemble the next show we binge watch while in self-isolation or quarantine.

Far too many within Kosovo’s political establishment feel entitled to power, and behave as if their ways are those of the state.  

But the state is not theirs for grabs, and citizens are not servants.

Nor are citizens spectators, however much all of this might resemble the next show we binge watch while in self-isolation or quarantine. 

The “audience” is the public, and the public is the many different individuals and communities who are feeling or experiencing the consequences of the different crises unfolding in front of them over the past few weeks.

They are — and will continue to be — the ones taking it upon themselves to show solidarity and coming to each other’s help when needed; fulfilling civic commitments and caring for the affected; and hitting pans on their balconies in protest as those pretending to act on their behalf fail them. 

Recognition goes to them. K

Feature image: K2.0.

  • 31 Mar 2020 - 10:54 | besa:

    Besa Did you asked yourself ? Why in the world US ambassador was "pleased" whatever might happen with the government I have the answer for you In the event of FSK anniversary, in the end, your priminister after finishing speech, did't bother to greet US ambassador, like an ignorant idiot he walked away, while Vjosa took a moment to greet shake hand and show some respect to US representative Did you guys just forget what happened 20 years ago .?