- Merkel, Macron to come out with concrete proposal for Kosovo-Serbia agreement (Express)
- Haradinaj: Border correction idea wasted previous time (media)
- Thaci meets Tusk and Hahn, calls for visa liberalisation (media)
- Commissioner Hahn requests lifting of the trade tariff (Epoka)
- Kosovo “overturns” trade balance with Serbia (Zeri)
- Assembly sets up committee for sanctioning denial of crimes in Kosovo (Koha)
- U.S. Embassy: Denying atrocities insults victims, undermines progress (media)
- Hoxhaj: Serbia should accept responsibility for crimes in Kosovo (RTK)
- Hoti: We will not negotiate Kosovo’s statehood with Serbia (Klan Kosova)
- OSCE will have advisory role during elections in the North (Epoka)
- Kosovo leaders saddened by Paris fire (media)
Kosovo Media Highlights
Merkel, Macron to come out with concrete proposal for Kosovo-Serbia agreement (Express)
Gazeta Express is reporting that the 29 April meeting of Western Balkans leaders in Berlin called by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to result in a concrete proposal for an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. Sources said that the document that Merkel and Macron will propose will not include partition of Kosovo but will not be the best option for Kosovo. “It will enable Serbia to have sovereignty over certain parts of Kosovo territory,” it writes.
In a response to Express, the German government confirmed that Chancellor Merkel and President Macron want to see stability in the region, particularly between Kosovo and Serbia. “Stability and positive developments in the region are of immense importance for the Chancellor and the President. Their goal is to discuss with the participants special challenges the region is facing, especially concerning relations between Kosovo and Serbia,” the response says.
Express also highlights that while the meeting is going to be attended by all Western Balkans leaders, only Kosovo and Serbia will be represented by both their presidents and prime ministers.
Haradinaj: Border correction idea wasted previous time (media)
Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj said yesterday that the discussion on border correction idea has wasted a lot of time for the EU and the Balkans.
Attending a commemoration event in Lipjan municipality, Haradinaj was asked to comment on the statement of the EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn that he didn’t rule out the border correction idea if the two sides agree to it. Haradinaj said an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia could have been achieved if too much time and effort was not wasted on talks about border correction. He blamed Commissioner Hahn and the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini for this: “A statement that leaves open the possibility of discussing the border and territory is a continuation of the wrong politics by outgoing Europeans,” he said.
As to whether he would accept an agreement with Serbia if such were to be put on the table during the upcoming meeting in Berlin, Haradinaj said he has no mandate to negotiate a deal and that this power has been entrusted to the Kosovo Negotiating Team.
On Twitter, Haradinaj also spoke about Commissioner Hahn’s interview: “Revisiting the ill-advised idea of land swap by @JHahnEU in @washingtonpost today, just days before the #Berlin meeting, is a hopeless & destructive attempt to force it through the back door.” Earlier, he wrote: “#Kosovo Gov & its people hold high hopes that #EU capitals’ leadership will strongly reject calls for new tragedies in the #Balkans & are truly committed to reach a final peace & reconciliation settlement with #Serbia.”
Later in the day while speaking at a ceremony marking the anniversary of Zhegoc battle, Haradinaj said that the opening of the border issue would also open the “unresolved” issue of Albanians in the Balkans. “Everyone should realise, all the international officials, that opening of the borders would also open the unresolved issue of Albanians in the Balkans. If they are ready to open this issue, we will open it, but if not, we cannot go on making statements like the one we heard today from Commissioner Hahn,” Haradinaj said.
Thaci meets Tusk and Hahn, calls for visa liberalisation (media)
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci met on Monday in Brussels with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to discuss the political situation, the European perspective, visa liberalization for Kosovo citizens and the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, the news website reports. Thaci thanked Tusk for the support the European Union has given to Kosovo in the last two decades. Thaci added that the region is faced with a difficult status quo that is slowing down many processes. “The resolution of all disputes between Western Balkans states, and a clarity, dynamic and greater commitment by the EU for the perspective of the Western Balkans, would be the best response to this stagnation,” he added. Thaci said that Kosovo has met all the visa liberalization requirements and that delays in the process are meaningless and unacceptable, regardless of continuous justifications by the EU and its member states. Thaci also said that Brussels and the West are the sole strategic orientation of Kosovo.
Thaci met later on with the EU Commissioner Enlargement Johannes Hahn. They discussed visa liberalization, dialogue for normalization of the relations between Kosovo and Serbia as well as EU membership perspective for Kosovo and Western Balkans states. Thaci said on this occasion that lack of a clear perspective for integration is creating space for dangerous anti-European ideologies in the region. “Kosovo citizens as the most pro-European nation, have started to lose their patience. A decision on visas this year and a pledge for new dynamics of European integration would return the lost trust on the European Union,” Thaci reportedly said.
The also discussed the necessity of overcoming disagreements among Western Balkans countries and a reach of a comprehensive agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.
Commissioner Hahn requests lifting of the trade tariff (Epoka)
EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn said after the meeting with Kosovo Presdient Hashim Thaci that resumption of the dialogue is important and in interest of regional stability and progress. “Good meeting with President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci. Important that the dialogue Serbia-Kosovo resumes rapidly, also in the interest of broader regional stability and progress. I reiterated the EU position that the counterproductive Kosovo tariffs must be at least suspended,” Hahn wrote on his Twitter account.
Kosovo “overturns” trade balance with Serbia (Zeri)
The paper reports on the front page that not even biggest optimists could have imagined that one day Kosovo would overturn trade balance with Serbia and is now exporting three times more to Serbia than importing. “This is all thanks to the 100 percent tax,” the paper notes.
Haki Shatri, advisor to Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, said that Kosovo has benefitted both economically and politically since introducing the import tariff. “Therefore we do not plan on liftin the tax until Serbia meets conditions that the Government of Kosovo has mentioned many a times,” Shatri said.
Assembly sets up committee for sanctioning denial of crimes in Kosovo (Koha)
Kosovo Assembly voted in favour yesterday of setting up a special committee to prepare the legislation sanctioning denial of crimes committed in Kosovo during 1998-99. The proposal was put forward by the head of the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA) parliamentary group, Bilall Sherifi, and received overwhelming support. Assembly Speaker Kadri Veseli said that an international tribunal to try crimes Serbian forces committed in Kosovo also needs to be set up.
U.S. Embassy: Denying atrocities insults victims, undermines progress (media)
The U.S. Embassy in Pristina issued a statement following certain Serbian officials’ denials that crimes were committed against civilian population during 1998-99 in Kosovo.
“As Kosovo commemorates the 20th anniversary of wartime atrocities, the U.S. Embassy extends sincere condolences to the families of victims. Denying that atrocities occurred insults the memory of victims, further traumatizes families, and undermines progress in building a democratic, multi-ethnic state. We also urge Kosovo’s leaders from all communities to refrain from incendiary rhetoric. A commitment to the truth about the wartime past is vital for a peaceful future,” the statement reads.
Hoxhaj: Serbia should accept responsibility for crimes in Kosovo (RTK)
Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo Enver Hoxhaj hailed endorsement of the declaration of the Assembly of Kosovo which requests to shed light on the murder of Bytyci brothers and punishment of those responsible for this crime. Hoxhaj said this is an extremely important step and added that Serbia should stop denying its crimes in Kosovo and admit responsibility for the campaign of ethnic cleansing and thousands of civilian victims.
Hoti: We will not negotiate Kosovo’s statehood with Serbia (Klan Kosova)
Avdullah Hoti, head of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) parliamentary group, said that Kosovo’s borders, its territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as its constitutional order are nonnegotiable. “Whoever takes the courage to enter such adventures will face citizens’ refusal,” Hoti wrote on Facebook. He said that LDK considers that relations with Serbia need to be normalized but before this, “Serbia should make the big step and acknowledge crimes and apologise, return the missing persons and meet certain preconditions.”
OSCE will have advisory role during elections in the North (Epoka)
Central Election Commission (CEC) discussed on Monday OSCE’s advising role in the extraordinary elections for municipal mayors in the municipalities of Mitrovica North, Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan. Valdete Daka, head of the CEC informed that the OSCE will only have an advising role on the technical aspect for the municipal commissions and only on the election day it will have an organizing role at the polling stations councils in order for them to be as well organized as possible.
Kosovo leaders saddened by Paris fire (media)
Kosovo leaders have expressed their sorrow at the fire that engulfed the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris yesterday. Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said he was saddened by the fire and extended his sympathies to the French people. President Hashim Thaci meanwhile said Notre-Dame was a big part not only of French but global patrimony. “Our sympathies to Parisians, French, to the Catholic community and all the people of good will who care for the beautiful #NotreDameDeParis,” he tweeted.