By Linda Karadaku
In an unprecedented development, the main political parties in Kosovo have joined together and agreed on a new president.
Their choice was the deputy director of the Kosovo police, General Major Atifete Jahjaga. Following parliament’s vote Thursday evening (April 7th), she becomes Kosovo’s first female head of state.
Jahjaga easily defeated a rival candidate, Suzane Novoberdaliu, garnering 80 votes out of 100 deputies who participated. Only one round of voting was needed. All parliamentary parties, except for Vetevendosja, participated in the session.
“My career reflects the changes Kosovo went through during the last decade,” Jahjaga told deputies after taking the presidential oath.
She voiced her support for the ongoing talks between Kosovo and Serbia. “As we can not change the past, we will build the future, learning from the mistakes of the past,” Jahjaga said.
She was the joint candidate of three parties — the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and the Alliance for New Kosovo (AKR).
The head of Radio Free Europe’s Kosovo bureau, Arbana Vidishiqi, told SETimes that the deal “marks an important step towards political compromise, something that Kosovo has lacked lately”.
Jahjaga “certainly has a good start, having in mind the political support she begins with”, Vidishiqi said.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said that what seemed impossible has now been achieved.
International representatives in Kosovo also welcomed the political deal, with US Ambassador Christopher Dell saying the country has navigated a difficult period that tested the strength and the viability of its young institutions.
“Not only did the structures and institutions stand up to the pressures, but your leaders proved they are capable of putting the interests of the nation ahead of their personal or their partisan interests,” Dell said.
“At a time when Kosovo’s institutions have been damaged and many question whether Kosovo is capable of providing justice for its people, I believe Atifete Jahjaga will be an important symbol of the country’s commitment to justice, and that her presidency will mark the beginning of a new and constructive chapter in this country’s history,” he added.
Not all politicians, however, were happy about the outcome. Parliament Speaker Jakup Krasniqi says the agreement was anti-constitutional and he accused Thaci of breaching the party statute.
Krasniqi had been serving as acting president ever since a court ruling led to Behgjet Pacolli’s resignation as head of state last month.
Meanwhile, Vetevendosja deputy Visar Ymeri blasted the deal among the main parties as antidemocratic. Jahjaga’s presidency “will be the product of a party agreement which brings an end to Kosovo as a republic”, he claimed.