An unprecedented act happened last week in the parliament of the Republic of Kosova.
While the country – as many other countries – is struck by the pandemic, the new government of Kosova, which gained power only at the beginning of February days ago, had been managing the situation well. It had imposed tough preventive measures, while keeping the population calm and panic-free.
The spread of the virus had been contained more effectively than in directly neighbouring countries, in part a fortunate effect of the unfortunate isolation of Kosova, currently the only country in Europe with a visa regime for the Schengen Zone.
Although the new government enjoys substantial support from a plurality of voters (and non-voters), it has disturbed the interests of the old elites, who have governed Kosova for 20 years. Since this government defies privatization and neoliberal politics as well as entrenched corruption, an informal alliance against it has been struck between the old political guard and local private corporations.
This “unholy” alliance has found a mentor in Richard Grenell, the unorthodox Trumpian diplomat, on the hunt for easy foreign policy successes that may create additional benefits for Trump’s present campaign and political standing. Grenell´s infamous arm-twisting techniques were used to push Kosova´s government into accepting an unfair and risky agreement with Serbia, which includes changes to the present borders and thereby displacements of people. According to many analysts of the Balkans, such border changes will involve population exchanges – and a lot of suffering with it.
This agreement was not accepted by Albin Kurti, the new leftist prime minister of Kosova. But Grenell´s pressure, combined with the tactics of Hashim Thaçi, the old guard president, resulted in a break within the coalition´s government. The center-right conservative party, the LDK, put forward a non-confidence vote against the government. The LDK was the minority partner in the new government and, while they “highly valued” the work done by the ministers in preventing the viral pandemic, as well as the measures against corruption and organised crime, they claimed they had been forced to bring the government down. The government was held to be jeopardizing Kosova’s alliance with the West and the EU.
As many politicians and Balkan specialists from the US and the EU indicated, this cannot be the case. As a result, these politicians, public figures and specialists publicly supported Kurti´s government, and denounced Grenell´s tactics and the entire deal (involving the territorial exchange) he stood for. Yet the non-confidence motion gained a majority in the Kosova parliament. As a result, Kurti´s government is now only a “caretaker government”. It will be on duty only until new elections can be held after the pandemic.
The situation in the Republic of Kosova with the pandemic is under control and manageable. Kosova is one of the countries which has taken early measures in tackling the spread of the virus, and also by declaring a state of medical emergency. The government is not only fully in charge of its capabilities and capacities to provide health and security, but has deployed them so successfully that no state of emergency measures have yet become necessary. Despite this, because Kosova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, it still needs international solidarity and support to cope with COVID-19.
With this letter we, the below-signed intellectuals and academics stand in solidarity with Albin Kurti’s acting government in these difficult times for him, the people of Kosova, and against the widespread presence of corruption in politics.
Frank Ruda, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Dundee, Scotland
Gabriel Tupinambá, psychoanalysts, member of Circle of Studies of Idea and Ideology, post doctorate researcher at Philosophy Department at UFR
Slavoj Žižek, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
Natalia Romé, Chair Professor and Researcher. Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales.
Vittorio Morfino, associate professor of History of Philosophy at the University of Milan-Bicocca
Ted Stolze, professor of philosophy, Cerritor College, L.A.
Catherine Malabou, Professor at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University
Nick Nesbitt, Professor of French and Italian at Princeton University
Rodrigo Nunes, professor of modern and contemporary philosophy at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)
Michael Hardt, professor of literature, Duke University
Warren Montag, Brown Family Professor of Literature at Occidental College in Los Angeles
Alenka Zupančič, research advisor at the Institute of Philosophy, Scientific Research Center of the Slovene Academy of Sciences
Mladen Dolar, Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana.
Riccardo Bellofiore, professor of Political Economy, University of Bergamo
Ceren Özselçuk, Associate Professor of Sociology, Boğaziçi University, Turkey
Robert Pfaller, professor of philosophy, University of Art and Industrial Design, Linz, Austria
Michael Roberts, economist UK
Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, New York
Todd McGowan, Associate Professor of English at the University of Vermont
Justin Clemens, Associate Professor at The University of Melbourne, Australia
Sophie Wahnich, historian, director of research CNRS, Paris
Eric Alliez, philosopher, University Paris 8
Simon Hajdini, University of Ljubljana
Gregor Moder, University of Ljubljana
Kohei Saito, associate professor of political economy at Osaka City University.
Mark De Kesel, Titus Brandsma Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Adrian Johnston, Distinguished Professor and Chair Department of Philosophy, University of New Mexico
Lidija Šumah, University of Ljubljana
Nick Srnicek, King’s College, London
Matthew Abbott, Federation University Australia
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker, Professor at Psychology, Institute of Universidade de São Paulo
Laurent de Sutter, Professor of Legal Theory, Brussels
Gavin Walker, Associate Professor at McGill University, History and Classical Studies
Bruno Bosteels, Professor at Latin and Iberian Studies, Columbia University
G.M.Tamás, Professor at Central European University
Sheila Kunkle, Associate Professor, Metroplitan State University, Minnesota
Matthew Flisfeder, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Communications, The University of Winnipeg