Kosovo's Kurti Accuses U.S. Envoy Of 'Direct Involvement' In His Government Collapse
By RFE/RL April 20, 2020
BELGRADE -- Kosovo's acting prime minister, Albin Kurti, has accused a U.S. envoy of being "directly involved" in the overthrow of his government less than two months after he took office as premier.
Kurti's government was brought down in late March by a no-confidence vote initiated by its junior coalition partner late last month, plunging the Balkan country into a political crisis.
Speaking during a video press conference with foreign media on April 20, Kurti said Richard Grenell -- U.S. President Donald Trump's special envoy to Kosovo-Serbia talks -- put "pressure" on the coalition partner to quit their alliance.
Kurti, who remains as head of the government in a caretaker role, said his government "wasn't overthrown for anything else but simply because Ambassador Grenell is in a rush to sign a deal with Serbia which I strongly believe is harmful since it includes territorial exchange."
The U.S. ambassador, who has been working on a potential deal for Serbia to recognize Kosovo, denied the accusation on Twitter, saying: "There has been absolutely no talk of land swaps from me -- and it's never been discussed by anyone else in my presence. We have said this many times."
Kurti also accused Grenell of trying to push through a "quick deal" to score political points ahead of the U.S. presidential election later this year, in which Trump is seeking reelection. An agreement normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia would be seen as a diplomatic success for the White House, which has pushed for an agreement to be worked out this year.
Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, declared independence in 2008 in a move rejected by Belgrade.
There has long been speculation Serbian and Kosovar leaders were considering an agreement that would involve trading pockets of territory as part of a process to normalize relations between the two countries.
Kurti's political future remains unclear.
President Hashim Thaci has said he would start the process to form a new government this week, while the acting prime minister has called for fresh elections instead.
With reporting by AFP and AP
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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