Kosovo’s new parliament has elected Albin Kurti as the new prime minister after his leftist-nationalist Vetevendosje (Self-Determination Movement) party won the most votes in snap elections last month.
The newly elected parliament, meeting for the first time on March 22, backed Kurti's nomination and his proposed government 67-30.
Vetevendosje, which has 58 of parliament’s 120 seats following the February 14 elections, needed the support of non-Serb minority parties to form a new government. Kosovo’s Serb minority has 10 seats in parliament and 10 other seats belong to other minorities.
WATCH: Kosovo's New Parliament Convenes For First Time Since February Election
Earlier in the day, Glauk Konjufca of Vetevendosje was elected speaker of the new legislature with 69 votes.
Saranda Bogujevci, Bedri Hamza, Kujtim Shala, Slavko Simic, and Bekim Arifi were elected deputy speakers.
Kurti's cabinet consists of 15 ministers, including five women. Four cabinet members are from parties representing the country's minorities, including one from Srpska Lista (Serb List), the main party representing the ethnic Serb community, which according to the constitution has a guaranteed place in the government.
The new government will have to deal with a troubled economy and frayed relations with Serbia.
Addressing lawmakers ahead of the vote, Kurti cited the coronavirus pandemic as Kosovo's main challenge, and said that his cabinet would implement "a plan to bring COVID-19 under control with measures that reduce the number of new cases and lead to the elimination of deaths."
He also vowed to reform the justice and education systems and said he wanted the country's economy to be more focused on manufacturing and exports, "an economy without monopolies, with public enterprises that function well and operate successfully."
Relations With Serbia
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Kosovo’s economy was struggling with high unemployment. Organized crime and corruption remain major problems as well. The country has reported nearly 64,000 total coronavirus cases, and just over 1,500 deaths.
Kurti also promised to deepen cooperation with the United States and the European Union, saying: "The road to EU integration may be challenging, but it has no alternative for Kosovo."
On Pristina's normalization talks with Belgrade, he warned that Kosovo would not make further "compromises" and that resolving the issue of missing persons would be the priority of the dialogue with Serbia.
Kosovo’s relations with Serbia, from which it declared independence in 2008, remain fraught more than two decades after a war between separatist ethnic Albanian rebels and Serb forces.
The 1998-1999 war ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign drove Serb troops out and a peacekeeping force moved in.
Negotiations on normalizing ties with Serbia brokered by the United States and the European Union -- which stalled again last year -- did not figure high on Vetevendosje’s agenda.
Kurti already served as prime minister from February to June 2020. His term ended when the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) quit his coalition.