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Kosovo Parties Sign Deal To Form New Government

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Albin Kurti (left) and Isa Mustafa hold a press conference after reaching an agreement to form the new government coalition on February 2.

Kosovo's two biggest parties have signed a deal to form a new government, nearly four months after the Balkan country held snap general elections.

The deal was signed on February 2 by Albin Kurti, the leader of the leftist-nationalist Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) party, and Isa Mustafa, the head of the center-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

The coalition will have a narrow majority of at least 61 mandates in parliament as lawmakers from minority groupings will provide the extra amount of votes needed following the October 6 elections, where Self-Determination received 29 seats and LDK 28.

According to Kosovo's constitution, a coalition government needs to include a representative of an ethnic minority.

The new coalition includes groups representing Serbs, Turks, Bosnians, and other ethnic minorities.

"We have signed the deal," Kurti told a joint press conference with Mustafa.

"We consider that it is a good deal, it is in the interest of the changes that must necessarily take place in our country," Mustafa said.

Coalition talks had stalled for months over government posts.

Under the deal reached, the government will be made up of 15 ministries, with Vetevendosje and the LDK appointing six ministers each. The remaining three posts will be filled by representatives from ethnic minorities.

The early elections were triggered by Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s resignation in July after war crimes prosecutors at The Hague summoned him for questioning over his wartime role as a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK).

The election campaign was dominated by issues of corruption, high unemployment, and a possible peace deal with Serbia, which has not recognized its former province's independence.

Kosovo has been recognized by more than 110 states since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008, but continues to face diplomatic and institutional hurdles stemming from nonrecognition by Serbia, Russia, and a handful of European Union states.

Talks on normalizing diplomatic relations with Serbia were derailed in 2018 by Pristina's imposition of 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods in response to Belgrade's continued lobbying for countries to reverse their recognition of Kosovo.

International hopes on restarting those talks -- potentially leading to UN recognition for Kosovo and clearing other obstacles -- appear pinned on the next government.

With reporting by Reuters and dpa
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