Albin Kurti

Albin Kurti (born 24 March 1975) is a Kosovo politician and activist who served as the fourth Prime Minister of Kosovo[a] from 3 February 2020 until 3 June 2020. Kurti is also the leader of the political movement and party Vetëvendosje (Self-Determination). He came to prominence in 1997 as the vice-president of the University of Prishtina Student Union, and a main organizer of non-violent demonstrations in 1997 and 1998. When Adem Demaçi became the political representative of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), Kurti worked in his office. He has been member of the Assembly of Kosovo since 2010 in three consecutive legislatures.

Albin Kurti
Albin Kurti duke protestuar (2).jpg
Kurti in 2013
4th Prime Minister of Kosovo
In office
3 February 2020 – 3 June 2020
PresidentHashim Thaçi
Preceded byRamush Haradinaj
Succeeded byAvdullah Hoti
Leader of the Opposition
Assumed office
3 June 2020
Preceded byKadri Veseli
Leader of Vetëvendosje
Assumed office
21 January 2018
Preceded byVisar Ymeri
In office
12 June 2005 – 28 February 2015
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byVisar Ymeri
Personal details
Born (1975-03-24) 24 March 1975 (age 45)
Pristina, Kosovo
NationalityKosovar / Albanian
Political partyVetëvendosje
Spouse(s)Rita Augestad Knudsen
Alma materUniversity of Prishtina
Signature
Military service
Political representativeKosovo Liberation Army

Early lifeEdit

Albin Kurti was born on 24 March 1975 in Pristina, at the time part of Yugoslavia. Kurti's father originates from an Albanian family from the village Sukobin (Albanian: Sukubinë) in Ulcinj Municipality, Montenegro. Kurti's father, an engineer, moved to Pristina in search for employment, before Albin was born there. Kurti's mother is a retired elementary school teacher, born and educated in Pristina, Kosovo.[1] Kurti finished his elementary and middle education in Prishtina. In 1993 he got admitted at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Prishtina as a top applicant, having scored 100% in the admission exam. He graduated in 2003 in Telecommunications and Computer Engineering.[2][3]

He is married with Norwegian Rita Augestad Knudsen and they have one daughter named Lea.

Rise to prominence and arrestEdit

Albin Kurti first came in prominence in October 1997, as one of the leaders of the student protests in Kosovo. Albanian students protested against the occupation of the university campus by the Yugoslav police. The protests were crushed violently, but the students and Kurti did not stop the resistance and they organized other protests in the following years. In July 1998, Kurti joined the Kosovo Liberation Army as an assistant of the political representative Adem Demaçi. These actions made him a target of the Yugoslav police.[3][4]

In April 1999, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Kurti was arrested and beaten by Yugoslav forces.[5] He was first sent to the Dubrava prison, but as the Serbian army withdrew from Kosovo, they transferred him to a prison in Požarevac on 10 June 1999.[3] Later that year, he was charged with "jeopardizing Yugoslavia's territorial integrity and conspiring to commit an enemy activity linked to terrorism" and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.[6] During the trial, he refused to recognize the legitimacy of the court. "This trial has nothing common with truth and with justice. This trial serves the daily politics of Milošević, who occupied Kosovo". When convicted he said, "It is not important if you convict me or how long. Everything I have said and done I did voluntarily and with dignity. I'm proud of this and if I had the chance I would do it again." According to judge Danica Marinković, Kurti was offered parole on the condition of confession, which he refused to agree to.[7]

Political careerEdit

 
Albin Kurti in a Vetëvendosje demonstration, 2013

Kurti was released in December 2001 by Yugoslavia's post-Milošević government amid international pressure. Since his release, he has worked outside party politics in Kosovo but has been a severe critic of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and of corruption. He organised non-violent protests in support of the families of those whose relatives disappeared in the war, and in favor of Kosovo's self-determination. On 23 April 2003 Kurti graduated with a degree in Computer and Telecommunications Sciences from the University of Prishtina. He was an activist for the Action for Kosovo Network (AKN), which was formed in 1997, and was a movement whose mission focused on human rights and social justice, education, culture and art.[citation needed]

On 12 June 2005 AKN activists wrote the slogan "No negotiations, Self-Determination" on the on walls of UNMIK buildings. The police with the help of UN Police, arrested, jailed and convicted hundreds of activists, including Kurti. AKN then changed its name to the Self-Determination Movement (Vetëvendosje). Vetëvendosje demanded a referendum on the status of Kosovo, stating "only with a referendum as a use of international right for self-determination, we can realise a democratic solution for Kosovo instead of negotiations which compromise freedom".[8]

In February 2007 Vetëvendosje organized a protest against the Ahtisaari Plan, which according to them divided Kosovo along ethnic lines and did not give the people of Kosovo what they were striving for. The protest turned violent and the Romanian UN Police killed two unarmed protesters and injured 80 others with plastic and rubber bullets. Kurti was arrested. He was detained until July, and then kept under house arrest. Amnesty International criticised the irregularities in his prosecution. He was eventually sentenced to nine months. Kurti was an advocate of "active nonviolent resistance".[9]

Vetëvendosje joined the political spectrum of Kosovo by running in the elections of 2010 for the first time. Albin Kurti was the candidate for prime-minister, though Vetëvendosje only scored 12.69% and won 14 out of 120 seats in the assembly, becoming the third political force in the country. On 14 January 2012, Vetëvendosje! organised a peaceful demonstration but the police again used force, allegedly with orders from Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi and Minister of Internal Affairs Bajram Rexhepi.[citation needed] Vetëvendosje criticized the Brussels Agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. The Vetëvendosje MPs, including Kurti, were escorted out of the parliament by police for disrupting the session of the assembly.[10]

Kurti ran for prime minister again in the following elections in 2014, but Vetëvendosje was third again, only gaining 16 seats. Vetëvendosje and Kurti personally were involved in the protests within the parliament that earned international attention by setting off tear gas in the parliament on multiple cases.[11][12] Kurti was arrested in a spectacular show of force by the police in November 2015.[13]

In the 2017 election Vetëvendosje doubled in size, becoming the biggest political party in Kosovo and winning 32 seats(the most as an individual party compared to other parties in that election), his party took 200.135 votes (27,49%)[14] .They were still defeated by the big PANA coalition that took 245.627 (33,74%). Albin Kurti became the most-voted politician in Kosovo. During this term Kurti was the leader of the opposition and Vetëvendosje managed to put strong pressure on the government in coordination with the other opposition party, LDK. During this time Kurti was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison on probation for his role in setting off the tear-gas in 2015.[15]

 
Kurti Government

Prime minister Ramush Haradinaj resigned in July 2019, taking Kosovo to early elections in October 2019. In the elections that followed, Kurti's Vetëvendosje won the largest share of the electorate with 221.001 (26,270%)(29 seats) and remained the first political force in Kosovo, with Kurti's share of votes increasing further in comparison to 2017. He became prime minister of Kosovo in early February 2020.

On 26 November 2019, an earthquake struck Albania. Kurti visited Durrës on Friday to survey the damage and stressed the importance for institutional cooperation between both Kosovo and Albania.[16][17]

On 18 March 2020, Kurti sacked (fired) Interior Minister Agim Veliu (LDK) due to his support for declaring a state of emergency to handle the coronavirus pandemic, which would had given power to the Kosovo Security Council chaired by Hashim Thaçi (PDK). The Democratic League of Kosovo, the junior partner leader of the coalition, filed a no-confidence vote motion in retaliation for the sacking and on 25 March 82 members of the Kosovo Assembly voted in favor of the motion becoming the first government to be voted out of power due to disagreements over how to handle the coronavirus pandemic.[18][19][20]

The Kurti cabinet continued as a caretaker government,[21][22] until 3 June 2020, when Avdullah Hoti was elected as the next Prime Minister.[23]

Prime Minister of KosovoEdit

ElectionEdit

On 3 February 2020, Albin Kurti was elected Prime Minister of Kosovo with 66 votes[24] in favor and 10 abstains,[25] 34 opposition MPs boycotted the vote and the left the Kosovo assembly building.

GovernmentEdit

One of the first decisions by Kurti and his cabinet was to repeal the unpopular pay raise awarded to ministers by the preceding Haradinaj government and return salaries to their previous amount.[26] As a result, the prime minister's monthly wage set at €2,950 will return to €1,500 for Kurti.[26]

As part of his government's policy platform, Kurti seeks to introduce a three monthly period of military conscription service in Kosovo, and he views it important to the country's defences.[27][24]

Countries visitedEdit

List of official visits abroad made by Albin Kurti as Prime Minister.

# Country Year Cities visited Type of visit
1   Albania 11.02.2020 Tirana Official visit[28][29]
2   Germany 14.02.2020 Munich Munich Security Conference
3   United Kingdom 24.02.2020 London European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Political positionsEdit

Albin Kurti is a strong supporter of direct-democracy and he has often criticized the Constitution of Kosovo for not allowing direct referenda. One topic that he thinks should be decided on through a referendum is the unification of Kosovo and Albania.[30] Kurti has continuously criticized the third article of the constitution for not allowing the referendum to happen. In a rally with Vetëvendosje supporters in 2018, Kurti stated that "We want to have the right of Kosovo to join Albania, but we would not start the third Balkan war for this goal."[31] Following the 2019 election and Vetëvendosje's electoral success, Kurti stated that Kosovo Albanians were not after territorial and political unification with Albania at all costs and instead sought "integration with Albania and the EU, through the success of Kosovo as a state."[32]

Kurti has been known of having a strong opinion on the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. He has continuously criticized Kosovo's position in its negotiations with Serbia, claiming that the dialogue should be based on conditions and reciprocity. He has further criticized Kosovo for not conditioning the dialogue with Serbia returning the bodies of missing persons from the Kosovo war buried in mass graves in Serbia, Serbia paying war reparations to Kosovo, and the return of the stolen pension funds and artifacts.[33] Following the 2019 election, Kurti said that "solid dialogue" and "reciprocity" was needed in the process of normalizing relations with Serbia. Kurti wants Kosovo to first negotiate with its Serb minority and the European Union, and then to go to negotiations with Serbia. He considers future dialogue with Kosovo's minorities and the European Union "a top priority" for going forward.[32]

NotesEdit

a.   ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ [1], albinkurti.weebly.com; accessed 27 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Rezultatet e provimeve të Albin Kurtit në universitet, profesorët flasin për të si student". gazetaexpress.com (in Albanian). 6 November 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Albin Kurti". vetevendosje.org (in Albanian). Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  4. ^ "Historia e Kurtit, si u bë pjesë e Unionit Studentor gjatë viteve 97-ta dhe u shfaq si kryesori". insajderi.com (in Albanian). Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  5. ^ Profile Archived 2010-04-26 at the Wayback Machine, alb-net.com; accessed 13 April 2014.
  6. ^ Jail sentence for Kurti Archived 2009-04-29 at the Wayback Machine; accessed 13 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Aljbin Kurti 1998. Pristupio u OVK i rekao da ratuju protiv Srba zarad nezavisnosti". Youtube (in Serbian). Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  8. ^ [2], albinkurti.weebly.com; accessed 13 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), newkosovareport.com; accessed 13 April 2014.
  10. ^ "Kosovo Assembly ratifies the 'Brussels Agreement'". European Centre for Minority Issues. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Kosovo parliament disrupted again after MPs set off teargas". theguardian.com. 15 October 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Kosovo Opposition Releases Tear Gas in Parliament". nytimes.com. 19 February 2016. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Kosovo MP Kurti Sent to High-Security Jail". balkaninsight.com. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  14. ^ (PDF) http://www.kqz-ks.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/1.-Rezultatet-e-p%C3%ABrgjithshme-sipas-Subjekteve.pdf. Retrieved 1 July 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "Kosovo Court Finds Four Opposition MPs Guilty". balkaninsight.com. 3 January 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  16. ^ Kostreci, Keida (30 November 2019). "Albania Search, Rescue Operation For Earthquake Survivors Ends". Voice of America (VOA). Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Haradinaj e Kurti e vizitojnë Shqipërinë pas tërmetit" (in Albanian). RTV 21. 29 November 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  18. ^ "Kosovo's Crisis-Hit Govt Threatened with No-Confidence Vote". BalkanInsight. 19 March 2020. Archived from the original on 26 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Kosovo govt toppled by no-confidence vote amid coronavirus". 25 March 2020. Archived from the original on 26 March 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Virus Response Topples First European Government in Kosovo". 26 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Kosovo government falls in vote of no confidence". The Guardian. 26 March 2020.
  22. ^ "Coronavirus helps bring down Kosovo's government, with nudge from US". The Indian Express. The New York Times. 26 March 2020.
  23. ^ "Avdullah Hoti Kryeministër i ri, 61 deputetë japin votën pro". Gazeta Express (in Albanian). 28 May 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  24. ^ a b Bytyci, Fatos (4 February 2020). "Kosovo approves new government, PM vows to be tough negotiator with Serbia". Reuters. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  25. ^ http://top-channel.tv/2020/02/03/albin-kurti-zgjidhet-kryeminister-i-kosoves-me-66-vota-pro/
  26. ^ a b Bami, Xhorxhina (12 February 2020). "New Kurti Cabinet Repeals Former Kosovo Government's Decisions". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  27. ^ Bami, Xhorxhina (17 February 2020). "Kurti Vows to Make Military Service Compulsory in Kosovo". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  28. ^ "Kosovo's New PM Visits Albania in First Official Trip Abroad". The New York Time. 11 February 2020. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  29. ^ Semini, Llazar (12 February 2020). "Kosovo's new PM visits Albania in first official trip abroad". The Washington Times. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  30. ^ "Kosovo's Likely PM Says Relations With Serbia Should Be Based On 'Reciprocity'" (in Albanian). BBC Albanian. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  31. ^ "Albin Kurti: Kosovo rebel who dreams of being PM". France 24. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  32. ^ a b "Kosovo's Likely PM Says Relations With Serbia Should Be Based On 'Reciprocity'". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  33. ^ "Politiker Kurti: "Holt uns aus der Patsche, und bringt uns in die EU!"". Der Standard (in German). 5 October 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2020.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Ramush Haradinaj
Prime Minister of Kosovo
2020
Succeeded by
Avdullah Hoti