Gogic: Rama and Kurti in a fight for the Albanian leader, conflict political and personal

Ognjen Gogić
Source: Kosovo Online

Between Albin Kurti and Edi Rama, there are conflicts that are very deep in nature, both personal and political. Essentially, it is a struggle for supremacy, specifically who will be the Albanian leader, as these roles are not clearly defined within the Albanian corpus, and both Rama and Kurti see themselves as the main pan-Albanian leader. Until the hierarchical relations between them become clear, we likely cannot expect mutual meetings or some different messages, political scientist Ognjen Gogic says to Kosovo Online.

He comments on the fact that the Albanian Prime Minister visited Pristina on Monday but did not meet with Kurti. Rama also did not attend the event marking the anniversary of the League of Prizren that day. Gogic says that this, among other things, shows that Rama did not want to attend "Kurti's triumph," because Kurti "took the stage" at this gathering and sent pan-Albanian messages.

"Rama would probably only have been in the audience, which would have actually suggested that he was subordinate and had a secondary role in that pan-Albanian movement. Rama assessed that it was not politically wise for him to be there. In Pristina, he met with Vjosa Osmani, showing that he distinguishes within the Kosovo leadership and recognizes the differences among them. He also met with the Mayor of Pristina and sent critical messages to the government in Pristina. When looking at all this together, it shows the extent of the conflict between him and Kurti, and that both use every opportunity to underline it," Gogic evaluates.

He points out that there are many issues that divide Rama and Kurti, one of which is that Rama wanted to have a certain role in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, similar to the one he had when the negotiations were led by Hashim Thaci on the Kosovo side.

"However, Kurti does not want that. He does not want Rama to have a say, but rather that only Pristina defines the conditions of the dialogue with Belgrade without Rama's significant role. Rama responded in his own way, trying to marginalize Kurti by at one time drafting a statute for the CSM, expressing his views on the CSM, but also on agreements like the Franco-German one, and generally criticizing Kurti's policy and approach in the dialogue. Even now in Pristina, he has criticized the Kosovo government, saying it conducts foreign policy as part of its internal policy, which is undiplomatic in the sense that you come to a capital and criticize the actions of that government," Gogic says.

Kurti, he adds, is not without responsibility for the current relationship, as he once campaigned against Rama in the parliamentary elections in Albania, where he had his own candidates, and there were differences between them regarding the Open Balkan initiative, which Rama was a main proponent of, while Kurti was against it and saw it as a betrayal by Albania.

"In their relations, another contentious issue is the relationship between Prime Minister Rama and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who have a kind of partnership that Kosovo has never viewed favorably and always feared it would be marginalized. Additionally, Rama had very good relations with Hashim Thaci. Rama supported Thaci while he was negotiating with Belgrade and even visited Thaci in detention in The Hague, which Kurti perceived as an attack on himself, as Thaci was his main political rival," Gogic explains.

He also notes the interesting fact that Rama met with the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, on Monday, even though they did not have good relations in the past.

"Rama's relations with Thaci and Vucic previously strained his relations with Osmani. However, there has been a split in Kosovo's internal relations between President Osmani and Prime Minister Kurti, and it seems Osmani is countering Kurti by aligning with Rama. She has shown that she is on good terms with Kurti's opponents. This actually indicates that the relations among Albanian leaders are much more complicated and complex than we might assume, and that they even diverge on some key issues of national interest," Gogic concludes.