Trouble at The Top

Members of Kosovo's provisional government are angry over the international community's refusal to accord them even temporary legitimacy.

Trouble at The Top

Members of Kosovo's provisional government are angry over the international community's refusal to accord them even temporary legitimacy.

While the UN struggles to put together a team to administer Kosovo, the province's Albanians already have their provisional goverment, albeit one which the international community appears not to recognise.


Formed on the basis of a gentlemen's agreement concluded during the Rambouillet talks, under which all political groups were to be included and the prime minister was to be a representative of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the provisional government became operational soon after the beginning of NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.


Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and his cabinet have set themselves up in a building in Pristina's central square, which ten years ago was known as the Economic Hall of Kosovo, together with their deputies, advisers, secretaries and bodyguards.


At Rambouillet, the international community welcomed its formation and considered it a step towards unification of Kosovo's many Albanian factions. Now, however, international attitudes appear to have changed.


"Hashim Thaci is not considered as a prime minister in the diplomatic missions here. He is seen as leader of the KLA." says a western diplomat. "The so-called provisional government of Kosovo is being consulted, because they are a real factor in the field, while the other factors, like LDK [the political party of Ibrahim Rugova], are fluid."


According to diplomatic sources who did not wish to be identified, the international community is looking to the Transitional Council of Kosovo-a body created by the UN which includes two representatives of each Albanian political party or faction, two independent Albanian politicians and representatives of Serbs and Turks - as its principal local partner, rather than Thaci's provisional government.


Moreover, the UN intends using this body for consultative purposes to get a feeling for public opinion, not for decision-making.


This attitude frustrates Kosovo's would-be new rulers in the provisional government.


"We are trying to impose ourselves with all the political means and democratic methods. We are making an effort to prove that we can govern too," says Bilal Sherifi, Thaci's chief adviser.


"Many times we feel like we're being used," another government official says. "I feel like a minister under an international protectorate."


Meanwhile, ordinary people in Kosovo are focusing on finding missing loved ones, rebuilding their properties and picking up the pieces of their former lives. As a result, most are apothetic about developments on the Albanian political scene and what may or may not be happening between Ibrahim Rugova and Hashim Thaci.


"I know that foreigners are here and that they will take the decisions. Luckily, someone who is not Albanian will now be boss in town", says a citizen of Pristina.


Garentina Kraja is a journalist with Pristina daily Koha Ditore.


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