- President Thaci to EFE: Spain should recognize Kosovo (media)
- Thaci: We are preparing for peaceful agreement with Serbia (media)
- Palmer: Merkel-Macron initiative doesn’t replace Brussels dialogue (RFE)
- Palmer brings Albanian and Serb political representatives together (Express)
- The un-constitutional delegation (Koha)
- Kosovo and U.S. sign extradition agreement protocol (media)
- Pacolli: Czech Republic to support Kosovo’s Interpol membership (media)
- Kosovo DPM Limaj meets EU’s Balkans Director Eichhorst (Epoka)
- Alex Whiting, new chief investigator with Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (media)
President Thaci to EFE: Spain should recognize Kosovo (media)
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, in an interview to Spanish news agency EFE, said Spain should recognize Kosovo’s independence. “I call on Spain to recognize us, because this would be a right decision. Kosovo is sui generis. There was ethnic cleansing and genocide by Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in Kosovo … Spain is not Serbia, and Catalonia is not Kosovo,” Thaci said in the interview, which was reportedly broadcast in numerous media in South America. Thaci commented on the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, saying that it must resume without conditions. “Dialogue is meaningful only when it is not conditioned,” he added. Thaci also called on the European Union to act in unison and coordination with the United States of America to conclude the process between Kosovo and Serbia this year.
Thaci: We are preparing for peaceful agreement with Serbia (media)
President Hashim Thaci said yesterday in Pristina that Kosovo’s authorities were working hard for Kosovo to become a member state of NATO as soon as possible and that they are also focused on reaching a peaceful agreement with Serbia.
During a parade by Kosovo Security Force (KSF) troops on the 20th anniversary of the deployment of NATO in Kosovo, Thaci said: “We are working hard in becoming part of NATO as soon as possible and for a final comprehensive and legally-binding agreement with Serbia. We want to close the chapters of conflicts from previous centuries and open new chapters of equality and development. This is our joint aspiration and this is our pledge to the people of Kosovo”.
Palmer: Merkel-Macron initiative doesn’t replace Brussels dialogue (RFE)
The United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Palmer, said in an interview to Radio Free Europe that the United States support the EU-facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. On the initiative of German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron, Palmer said he believes the initiative supports the Brussels dialogue. “We understand that the meetings in Berlin and Paris are designed to help the EU-facilitated comprehensive dialogue for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia,” he said. Palmer also said he expects Pristina to suspend the import tariff on Serbian goods so that dialogue can resume as soon as possible.
You have just returned from Serbia where you met key officials there and now you are in Pristina. Were you successful in convincing the two sides to return to dialogue?
We continue to support the EU-led dialogue. I think it is fundamental for the future of both countries, Serbia and Kosovo, and for them to find a way to normalize relations. Ideally this would mean mutual recognition and a path toward EU integration for both countries. Going back to the table is crucial in this regard. This means suspending the tariff, that is removing obstacles to progress. I believe that both sides are ready to meet again, but it is important to create the conditions to make this happen. We remain the key supporters of the process. There is no other way forward for Kosovo than dialogue with Serbia, the normalization of relations and we hope that this can happen as soon as possible.
From the U.S. standpoint, is lifting the tariffs an absolute condition to resume dialogue?
At this point we don’t see any other way forward. Whether it is right or not, that’s another matter, but the tariff has become an obstacle to progress. Kosovo is not winning in this way. In our view, tariffs are damaging to Kosovo’s strategic interest for the normalization and the European path. So, we encourage the authorities in Pristina to at least suspend the tariff so that the process can resume, to see if progress can be achieved and then see what we can do to move the process toward an agreement as soon as possible.
Do you see readiness in Kosovo’s society to suspend the tariff?
I think this is a decision that Kosovo needs to make based on the collective understanding of its most important interests. I understand that tariffs are very popular and we understand why, but we encourage people, both political leaders and voters in Kosovo, to see what is Kosovo in fact winning by this and what is has really caused in Kosovo. And if they look at this clearly, then I think they would agree with our conclusions that tariffs in reality are not helping Kosovo in its way forward.
Is “shuttle diplomacy” something that can be used to get the two sides back on the table?
I was just in Belgrade and now I am in Pristina.
Is this part of “shuttle diplomacy”?
We have talks with both sides in the process on how we can move forward. Ultimately it is not up to us to negotiate an agreement. Pristina will not negotiate an agreement with the U.S., it will not negotiate an agreement with Brussels, it must negotiate with Belgrade, find the way forward by returning to the table of dialogue and reach an agreement that advances Kosovo’s national interests.
Is Pristina asking the U.S. to be more involved in the process or perhaps in “shuttle diplomacy”?
We need to find a way to resume dialogue. The U.S. is committed to supporting the process. We have been greatly engaged from the beginning. We are ready to do more in support of the process, but we need to find a way to get the parties back on the table so that they can discuss fundamental issues.
The U.S. however is not as harsh as it was in the beginning when the tariffs were introduced. At the time, you cancelled several visits to Kosovo, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj did not attend the Prayer Breakfast in Washington because of visa issues. Has something changed meanwhile?
People get overly analytical with minor developments. The U.S. supports Kosovo. Kosovo is our partner and we are a strategic partner for Kosovo. Having said that, there are limitations in terms of what the U.S. can do to help Kosovo, if Kosovo doesn’t help itself. So in terms of dialogue with Serbia, natural consequences of blocking the process of dialogue will manifest by themselves, without the U.S. having to be harsh in any way. Kosovo won’t be able to move forward and as I’ve said in my public addresses yesterday, if Kosovo doesn’t move forward it will slip backwards. Kosovo must help itself by doing what is necessary to return the process and to move forward.
Do you think Belgrade is using the tariffs as an excuse to block the dialogue?
I don’t think it is useful to comment if this is an excuse or not. What I try to do is to understand the political reality on both sides, whether it is fair or not, or right or not, tariffs are an obstacle to progress. Progress is fundamental to Kosovo’s interests. Tariffs are preventing this from happening. When tariffs are suspended or lifted, there is an open area of issues that Belgrade and Pristina must negotiate. So this wouldn’t solve everything, but it would allow the parties to return to the table, re-engage and work on resolving issues together with the European Union and with the engagement and great support from the United States.
Let us talk about the final agreement. On the 20th anniversary of the Kumanovo Agreement, the White House sent a message to both sides to work on an agreement that would focus on mutual recognition. Given the circumstances, do you think this is possible? What is the mood in Serbia, is Serbia willing to recognize Kosovo’s independence?
I think there can be an agreement between Pristina and Belgrade. I think it is absolutely possible if the parties sit at the table, have good-will negotiations, to find the way forward on an agreement that is good for both countries. I cannot say what this agreement is, I cannot say what its elements are. For the United States, it would be ideal to see mutual recognition as the core of an agreement, an agreement that puts both countries on a European path. Negotiations are needed to reach this point.
U.S. President Donald Trump, in his letters to the Presidents of Kosovo and Serbia, said that the U.S. is willing to assist in reaching an agreement that balances the interests of both countries. Does the U.S. have red lines when it comes to a final settlement between Kosovo and Serbia?
The U.S. is not ready to only sign off on any agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. What we are saying is that we want to see an agreement that is sustainable, fair and implementable, an agreement that can be explained and embraced by the public in both countries. If we have any concerns on specific issues of an agreement, we will identify those concerns and work with the parties to address and resolve them. But like I said we would like to have this problem because it would mean that the parties have resumed the talks. We would want to see this.
If a final agreement involves the border, partition, correction, or border delineation or whatever it is called, will the U.S. support such an agreement?
Border delineation is a sovereign right. This is something that Kosovo controls and decides on. If Kosovo decides to discuss an issue that is its sovereign right, and decides to discuss border delineation with Serbia, this is Kosovo’s choice. We support the negotiating process between Kosovo and Serbia and engagements for the full normalization of relations. This means that any agreement must be multidimensional, to have its political components, security components and certainly components of culture, economy and trade. It is up to the parties to decide whether this will include the border demarcation between Kosovo and Serbia. As far as the U.S. is concerned, we want to see a process that is supported by both sides in the talk.
In parallel with the Brussels process, there is an initiative by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emanuel Macron, also aimed at trying to find a solution. How does the U.S. view the initiative? Kosovo’s President said he was surprised by the fact that the U.S. was not aware of the Berlin Summit and he added that Paris can bring more. How does the U.S. view the initiative, and do you have any information if the Paris summit will be held and if you will be involved?
We support every effort by our European partners aimed at pushing the process forward. We understand that the meetings in Berlin and Paris are designed to help the EU-facilitated comprehensive dialogue for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia and that they are trying to create conditions to resume the process. If this is a mechanism that can help the two sides reach an agreement, then the U.S. fully supports it. We are working closely with the partners, not only with the EU as an institution, but also with individual member states, including Germany and France. We hope this process will give its real contribution and we will support it.
Palmer brings Albanian and Serb political representatives together (Express)
The newspaper reported that the U.S. Assistant Deputy Secretary of State, Matthew Palmer, summoned Kosovo Albanian and Serb political representatives to a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Pristina on Thursday. A source told RTK that Assembly President Kadri Veseli, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, opposition representatives LDK’s Agim Veliu and VV’s Albin Kurti, Serbian List leader Goran Rakic and Independent Liberal Party leader Slobodan Petrovic, attended the meeting. The meeting focused on unblocking the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.
The un-constitutional delegation (Koha)
The paper reports on its front page that the provisions of a draft law, which was adopted several months ago in the Assembly and which foresees the duties, responsibilities and competencies of Kosovo’s state delegation for talks with Serbia, have been ruled to be in opposition with the Constitution. Two different sources have confirmed this to the paper. “The Constitutional Court has ruled that the draft law is in opposition with the Constitution. The draft law violated the constitutional principle on the division and balance of powers, as it delegated power to a group that cannot perform executive prerogatives,” an unnamed source told the paper on Thursday. while the Constitutional Court has confirmed that the case is the final phase of review. The paper further notes that the delegation has not become fully operational, it has developed only a few activities and has shown lack of transparency. The paper also says that civil society organizations have been critical of the delegation’s work.
Kosovo and U.S. sign extradition agreement protocol (media)
Kosovo’s Minister of Justice Abelard Tahiri and the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer signed in Pristina yesterday protocols for extradition agreement, media report.
Minister Tahiri hailed the move as “historic” and “a new stage in bilateral relations”. He said the treaty reflects the new reality in the Balkans and strengthens the rule of law. “Our relentless efforts will continue towards strengthening the rule of law and achieving a justice that corresponds to a modern and functional country,” Tahiri wrote on Facebook.
Pacolli: Czech Republic to support Kosovo’s Interpol membership (media)
In an official two-day visit to the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli met the country’s Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek as well as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlicek.
Pacolli said the meetings focused on strengthening of bilateral relations and Czech Republic’s support for Kosovo’s international integrations processes. “Minister Petricek said that the Czech Republic will support Kosovo in its membership bid to Interpol, as has done in the past. We agreed on the need to deepen our relations in all fields,” Pacolli wrote on social media.
Kosovo DPM Limaj meets EU’s Balkans Director Eichhorst (Epoka)
Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister Fatmir Limaj met yesterday EU’s Director for Western Balkans Angelina Eichhorst and discussed the political situation in Kosovo, dialogue with Serbia and Kosovo’s EU integration processes.
“It was a joint conclusion that there is no alternative to the dialogue between the two countries and we have to find ways to renew dialogue in order to achieve a comprehensive legally binding agreement for mutual recognition,” Limaj said after the meeting.
Alex Whiting, new chief investigator with Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (media)
The media reported yesterday about the appointment of Alex Whiting to the post of Head of Investigations with the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague.
“Mr Whiting, 54, is a prosecutor of French and US nationality with extensive experience of both domestic and international prosecutions, including stints at both the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), as well as a distinguished academic career,” the statement published on the Specialist Chamber’s website states.
It also notes that while working with the ICTY, Whiting was lead prosecutor in the trial of Fatmir Limaj, Isak Musliu, and Haradin Bala, as well as lead prosecutor in the trials of Milan Martic and Dragomir Milosevic.
See the full statement: https://bit.ly/2XKpe8l