Once in power Mr Kurti announced that he would now take charge of the talks and that he was against any territorial exchanges with Serbia, which Mr Thaci is thought to have discussed as the price of peace. Mr Vucic then said he would do a deal only if tariffs on Serbian goods were lifted. Mr Kurti agreed to that, but only on the basis of “reciprocity”, meaning that goods from Serbia would, instead of tariffs, be subject to a non-tariff barrier in the shape of a ban if those same types of goods are banned from sale in Serbia. Lifting these bans on Kosovar produce is unacceptable to Serbia, as it believes that doing so would imply recognition of the country. So the proposal was swiftly rejected by Richard Grenell, the acting American intelligence head, who is overseeing the peace talks. American financial aid was suspended. (Mr Thaci and the Americans both deny favouring any land swaps.)
Last week Mr Kurti’s government was voted out in parliament, in a procedure ostensibly provoked by a row over the declaration of a state of emergency owing to covid-19, which would have given the president many exceptional powers. Mr Kurti’s supporters are bitter. They believe he was their only chance to rid the country of the corrupt leaders and warlords of the past.
Weeks of wrangling will now follow. If it were not for the virus a snap election could have been called. A divided and unstable corner of Europe has just become a little more precarious.