Kosovo: A victory for Mr Haradinaj would complicate relations with Serbia

Voters in Kosovo are going to the polls in snap elections called last month after Prime Minister Isa Mustafa lost a confidence vote.

The new government will have to tackle high unemployment, improve the economy and develop better relations with its neighbours.
Opinion polls suggest Mr Mustafa’s bloc is trailing a coalition led by a former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.
A victory for Mr Haradinaj would complicate relations with Serbia.
It has issued an international arrest warrant for him for alleged war crimes.

He served as a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war with Serbia in 1998 and 1999. Serbia has repeatedly warned it will defend “every inch” of what it claims as its territory in neighbouring Kosovo.
Historically a province of Serbia, Kosovo declared independence in 2008. It is recognised by the US and most EU countries but not by Serbia or its ally Russia.
About 1.9 million Kosovars are registered to vote in the third vote since independence. Nearly half a million voters live abroad.
Kosovo profile
New court to try suspects of war crimes committed in Kosovo (video)
One of the top priorities for any new government will be to reduce unemployment, which is running at 30%, and lower tensions with Serbia, a pre-condition for both countries before they can join the European Union. The West believes that the incorporation of Western Balkan countries in the EU is the most effective way of stabilising a region blighted by war throughout the 1990s.Kosovo has had a constant Nato peacekeeping force since 1999.
Kosovo and Serbia – key recent dates
1991 – Start of the violent break-up of Yugoslavia
1996 – Rebel Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) steps up attacks on Serbian authorities in Kosovo – met with a Serbian crackdown
1999 – Nato bombs Serbian targets – Yugoslav and Serbian forces respond with ethnic cleansing against Kosovo Albanians but withdraw from Kosovo after a peace agreement
2008 – Kosovo unilaterally declares independence.

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