Tag Archives: Czech

Czech opposition narrowly prevails

Brussels 09.10.2021 The Czech Republic’s opposition prevailed over Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s party in this weekend’s parliamentary elections.

The Three-party coalition, Together, won 27.78% of the vote in the two-day elections, narrowly edging out Babis’s ANO party which won 27.13%, according to Reuters.

A third opposition coalition, the Pirate/Mayors, came in third with 15.6% of the vote.

Together and the Pirate/Mayors are set to win 108 of the 200 seats in the lower house of the Czech Parliament, according to Reuters.

Petr Fiala, who leads Together, said the groups have “brought a chance that we will stop getting in debt, that we will remain a part of democratic Europe,” he said. “The results are clear, the democratic opposition won a clear majority.”

However Babis conceded his coalition’s loss, he said that he would lead talks on forming a cabinet if he is appointed by President Milos Zeman, according to The Associated Press.

Zeman has previously said that he would allow the leader of the strongest party, not coalition, to form a new government, the outlet noted.

Incumbent Prime Minister Babis has faced multiple scandals during his term as Prime Minister, but his ANO party was still favored to win the two-day election. This election notably came just after the release of the Pandora papers, which focused on his financial dealings overseas.

The Pandora Papers, released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, reveal that Babis acquired $22 million villa in France in 2009. The research claimed that he appeared to have routed the money through shell companies in the British Virgin Islands, Washington, D.C., and a real estate management firm in Monaco.

Overheat in Kosovo

Serbia Kosovo

Aleksandar Mitic, OPINION

A new graffiti banner appeared on the stands of the football stadium of Sparta Prague in the Czech capital, media reported on January 24. It reads “Kosovo is Serbia”, and is a reference to the long-held views by the Sparta fans, but also fans at dozens of stadiums around Europe – from Warsaw and Athens to Paris and Madrid – that Kosovo is a province of Serbia and that unilateral Albanian separatism should not be rewarded.

The same phrase “Kosovo is Serbia”, painted on a train rallying Belgrade to Kosovska Mitrovica North – the only urban enclave in Kosovo from where Serbs had not been expelled since the war in 1999 – obtained not only extreme media attention but triggered a surprisingly high political attention worldwide. While Belgrade claimed the passenger train, on its promotional trip, was merely an expression of Serbia’s support to its integrity and to the suffering Kosovo Serbs, the Kosovo Albanians saw it as a provocation and sent dozens of armed vehicles to block its entry into what they consider as their own territory. Belgrade averted a conflict by stopping the train in central Serbia, but the political aftermath proved almost as tense.

Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic reacted by warning that any future attacks against Kosovo Serbs would be met by an armed response from Serbia, while Kosovo Albanian president Hashim Thaci warned that Serbia was looking at a “Crimea scenario” to take back Kosovo, and that Albanians were infuriated by the “painted” signs of Serbia’s claim to the province.

While the rhetoric was harsher than usual, it showed, however, a continuity of both sides’ policy on the Kosovo issue.

Belgrade, on one hand, continues to argue that Kosovo’s secession – which began with the 1999 NATO bombings and continued with a unilateral secession – is a dramatic violation of international law and a precedent for conflicts worldwide. Yet, similar to the train case, its Kosovo policy sometimes appears as a “one step forward, two steps back” policy. Serbia is fighting Kosovo’s entry into the UN institutions, such as UNESCO, yet it is giving up parts of sovereignty in Kosovo by agreeing to the demands of the European Union – and Germany in particular – in exchange for the opening of new EU negotiation chapters. The expected delay of Serbia’s potential entry to the EU – now put at 2027 – however fuels criticisms among those who believe that Serbia should not hurry with giving up on its sovereignty prerogatives, in particular in Serb-populated northern Kosovo.

The Kosovo Albanians, on the other side, have a long-term strategy of putting pressure by arguing that if they do not get everything they wanted, there will be chaos in Kosovo. It is a strategy which paid off in 1999 – when they triggered the NATO bombings, in 2004 – when they succeeded in obtaining the beginning of status talks, in 2008 – when they received Western support for a unilateral secession from Serbia, in 2011-2012 – when they received support for “rounding up” what they now perceive as their own sovereignty over Kosovo. Every time a crisis appears in Kosovo, the same Albanian rhetoric and threats are employed – every time with success. Why change then the scarecrow tactics?

Yet, changes in the US administration and elections Europe-wide which are boosting opponents of Kosovo’s secession, are fueling worry in Pristina. An “independent Kosovo” – a pet project of the Clinton family – is perhaps not as secure anymore.

Aleksandar Mitic, president of the Center for Strategic Alternatives

Belgrade, 24/01/2017

Photo: Graffiti in Prague, couresy of Aleksandar Mitic

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