Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj did not exclude the possibility of counting his last days at the helm of Pristina’s government, after a disagreement over whether import tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia should be lifted brought Kosovo government on the brink of collapse, the Beta news agency reported on Tuesday.
In November last year, Pristina had introduced 10 percent import tarriffs for goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were later that month increased tenfold, to 100 percent. Both the US and the EU called for the tarriffs to be lifted or suspended.
The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), founded by President Hashim Thaci, threatened to leave the ruling coalition of Haradinaj’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) unless the controversial import taxes were suspended.
Thaci said the taxes ought to be suspended, a stance supported by the parliament speaker and leader of the PDK, Kadri Veseli, who said the measure should be limited to 120 days and if no solution to the Belgrade – Pristina relations was reached, it should be re-introduced along with other unspecified moves.
Haradinaj refuses the idea, conditioning the withdrawal of the tariffs to an international conference on Kosovo.
Haradinaj has written to the world leaders on Tuesday that the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue “is a dialogue between two sovereign states,” and that the agenda did not include Kosovo's final status but the normalisation of relations between the two countries.
In a letter to the Quint countries (the US, the UK, France, Germany and Italy ), Haradinaj listed his conditions for the abolishment of the taxes. According to the Pristina daily Koha Ditore, Haradinaj called on the US and EU to organise a conference lasting for no more than two weeks.
According to Haradinaj, his demands that there be no changes to Serbia-Kosovo border, no executive powers for the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM), and no measures of any kind based on concessions made prior to February 17, 2008, when Pristina declared independence from Belgrade, should all be accepted at the meeting.
Haradinaj had earlier said the tariffs would remain in place until Belgrade recognised Kosovo’s independence, despite the repeated warnings from Washington and Brussels.
Late on Monday, he said “the elections are healthy, and my ally can decide to leave the government. I’m not afraid of elections though they can happen very soon.”
The latest news seem to prove that Thaci – Haradinaj relations have deteriorated over a difference of opinion on a final agreement with Belgrade.
While the President insists on the so-called border correction, the Prime Minister is firmly against it, saying it would lead to a catastrophe.
Local analysts said Haradinaj enjoys great popularity in Kosovo, while Thaci is supported by the international community, mainly by the EU, as Pristina’s chief negotiator in the dialogue on normalisation of relations with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic.