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UNMIK Headlines 12 July

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• Thaci: Zaev has apologised to me and to Kosovo for his remarks (media)
• Haradinaj: All leaders in the region fear border changes (media)
• Haradinaj: Relations with NISMA are no threat to the government (Koha)
• Macaraeg: U.S. has no plans to withdraw troops from Bondsteel (media)
• Kosovo leaders in farewell meetings with EULEX head, Papadopoulou (media)
• Kosovo ministry defends lobbying contract with U.S. firm (Klan Kosova)
• Haradinaj confirms Holland skeptical about visa liberalisation for Kosovo (RTK)
• Deda: We could have brought down the government in June (RTK)
• Gjilan prosecution speaks about two arrested Serbs (Kallxo)
• Reconciliation coalition launched in Pristina (Koha/Klan)
• Serbian general leaves meeting in Brussels due to Kosovo’s presence (RTK)

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  • Thaci: Zaev has apologised to me and to Kosovo for his remarks (media)
  • Haradinaj: All leaders in the region fear border changes (media)
  • Haradinaj: Relations with NISMA are no threat to the government (Koha)
  • Macaraeg: U.S. has no plans to withdraw troops from Bondsteel (media)
  • Kosovo leaders in farewell meetings with EULEX head, Papadopoulou (media)
  • Kosovo ministry defends lobbying contract with U.S. firm (Klan Kosova)
  • Haradinaj confirms Holland skeptical about visa liberalisation for Kosovo (RTK)
  • Deda: We could have brought down the government in June (RTK)
  • Gjilan prosecution speaks about two arrested Serbs (Kallxo)
  • Reconciliation coalition launched in Pristina (Koha/Klan)
  • Serbian general leaves meeting in Brussels due to Kosovo’s presence (RTK)

Thaci: Zaev has apologised to me and to Kosovo for his remarks (media)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci commented yesterday on the leaked telephone conversation Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev had with two Russian comedians who he believed were the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. In the conversation, Zaev is reported to have expressed concern over what he said were land swap plans by presidents of Kosovo and Serbia, Thaci and Vucic, backed by Moscow.

Thaci said Zaev telephoned him and apologised. “I had a twenty-minute telephone conversation with Prime Minister Zaev. Prime Minister Zaev called me as President of the Republic of Kosovo to clarify about what he said to the people that phoned him up. He told me very clearly that he was a victim of deceit and that what he said about allegedly Kosovo municipalities being given to Serbia was based on rumours, disinformation, and information from Sputnik media and Russian rumours. This is what he told me and he apologised to me personally and to Kosovo,” Thaci said yesterday at a press conference.

Klan Kosova reports that in the telephone conversation, Thaci criticised Zaev for his remarks and asked him why he spoke about Kosovo and what led him convey “disinformation” to the persons on the other end of the phone line. Pressed by Thaci on whether the Russian media reports were the source of his information, Zaev is reported to have admitted he was “manipulated by fake news and Russian propaganda media, such as Sputnik.”

At the same time, Zeri reports that Zaev spoke to media yesterday saying that the remarks about Kosovo and Serbia agreement were based on what he heard being spoken in the opinion but that he never mentioned the Russian media outlet, Sputnik.

Haradinaj: All leaders in the region fear border changes (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj commented on Thursday on North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s remarks about the possibility of Kosovo’s partition, several media report. “All leaders in the region are concerned about border changes. I have heard these statements. They are not news to me,” Haradinaj told reporters in Pristina. He also commented on the future outcome of the dialogue with Serbia. “What remains is for Serbia to recognise Kosovo. There are two issues left that we need to discuss, and Serbia has no other choice but to sit down and talk. Kosovo is entering the process of a consolidated dialogue … There are efforts to invite us only for the sake of the process, but we will not agree to this. We will go to the process of dialogue only to get recognition [from Serbia],” Haradinaj added.

Haradinaj: Relations with NISMA are no threat to the government (Koha)

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said on Thursday that relations with Fatmir Limaj’s NISMA, a partner in the ruling coalition, do not threaten the government, the paper reports on its front page. “The government has faced challenges ever since its formation. It continuously faced hard issues and difficulties. But relations with NISMA do not threaten the government … In some cases, there are certain debates between members of political parties. But these do not represent the position about the partnership between the Alliance [for the Future of Kosovo] and NISMA. I have respect for NISMA and Mr. Limaj and for their engagement in the work we do together, the same way they respect my engagement and the engagement of the Alliance,” Haradinaj said.

Macaraeg: U.S. has no plans to withdraw troops from Bondsteel (media)

Commander of the U.S. KFOR base Bondsteel, Colonel Roy J. Macaraeg, said in an interview with European Western Balkans portal that the U.S. Embassy has clearly stated that there is no plan for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Bondsteel.

Macaraeg said the security situation in Kosovo is good and KFOR’s presence is still needed to provide security which he said is necessary for continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. “There is no fixed end date for the mission and NATO has currently no plan to reduce or withdraw it,” Macaraeg said.

Asked about the security situation for the Serb community and the low rate of returns, Macaraeg said: “KFOR guarantees that security is ensured to all people in Kosovo, including Serbs. Lack of returns does not depend only on security, but it is also the result of a combination of politics and of personal considerations.”

See the interview: https://bit.ly/2JwvqMt

Kosovo leaders in farewell meetings with EULEX head, Papadopoulou (media)

Kosovo leaders held meetings yesterday with the outgoing head of EULEX, Alexandra Papadopoulou. President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci thanked Papadopoulou for her “wonderful” work in Kosovo and said that the cooperation between Kosovo authorities and the EU rule of law mission has been “excellent”.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Thaci said: “This shows Kosovo’s journey will be coordinated with European Union authorities with our clear vision to have visa liberalisation as soon as possible and concrete European perspective.”

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj thanked Papadopoulou for her work in strengthening the rule of law during her three-year term. “By helping our justice system, you have helped all the society and you have had the Government’s support throughout this process,” Haradinaj said congratulating Papadopoulou on her new assignment with the Greek diplomacy.

Papadopoulou also met Kosovo Assembly Speaker Kadri Veseli, Justice Minister Abelard Tahiri, and Interior Minister Ekrem Mustafa.

Kosovo ministry defends lobbying contract with U.S. firm (Klan Kosova)

Kosovo’s Ministry of European Integration has defended the signing of a lobbying contract with a U.S. company saying lobbying is a legitimate practice applied throughout the world by countries to advance and protect their interests and that Kosovo makes no exception to this.

In a statement, the Ministry of European Integration said that in face of fierce lobbying offensive by Serbia, “this is the least that institutions of the Republic of Kosovo can do.” It added that the contract signed by the U.S.-based company was transparent and legal. “Not a single procedure has been violated,” the Ministry said.

Fitore Pacolli, Vetevendosje MP raised concerns over why the name of Assembly Speaker Kadri Veseli appears as the point of contact in the contract. “Kadri Veseli is a party leader and speaker of the Assembly so why should his name be in a contract signed by the Ministry of Integrations. This means the contract will be used by the PDK,” Pacolli said.

MP Korab Sejdiu criticised the contract saying its purpose is to serve personal interests of Assembly Speaker Kadri Veseli.

Haradinaj confirms Holland is skeptical about visa liberalisation for Kosovo (RTK)

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj confirmed on Thursday that Holland is skeptical about visa liberalization for Kosovo. However, he added that the government is making efforts to explain to the Dutch Ambassador the position of Kosovo. “I personally gave a material to the Ambassador of Holland to send to their Interior Minister, with some explanations, as there is lack of information in certain cases,” Haradinaj said.

Deda: We could have brought down the government in June (RTK)

Kosovo Assembly MP from Alternativa political entity Ilir Deda, said on Thursday it is necessary for the opposition political parties to go with a joint list in the next elections. He said opposition already has 58 signatures for motion of confidence and added that there are some other MPs that would also vote to bring down the government. What the entire opinion is waiting for is internal elections in the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and to continue further with the motion. We could have brought the government down in June. I suggested that LDK to go with the motion in July after the Paris Summit, which has anyways failed,” Deda said. He added that votes of the Serbian List will not be determinant to bring the government down. “There is a lot of dissatisfaction as this government has proved itself the worst a government can prove,” he said. “In a joint opposition list, it is of no importance who would the Prime Minister be,” he said adding that based on regulations, this should belong to the biggest political entity, LDK.

Gjilan prosecution speaks about two arrested Serbs (Kallxo)

Kosovo Police arrested on Thursday two Kosovo Serbs at Dheu i Bardhe border crossing under suspicion of espionage. The office of the prosecutor in Gjilan told the news website that they tried to send files of some Serb municipal officials to Serbia. “There is grounded suspicion that suspects T.T. and D.D. on 10 July 2019, at around 09:15 hours at Dheu i Bardhe border crossing, based on the request of the Ministry for Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia – the Coordination Center for Kosovo, based in Vranje, tried to send files of some municipal officials of Serb nationality of Kllokot and Vitia municipalities to the Republic of Serbia,” a spokeswoman for the prosecution said, adding that police found these files in the vehicle of the suspects. Other news websites report that the Serbian Government’s Office for Kosovo has reacted against the arrests.

Reconciliation coalition launched in Pristina (Koha/Klan)

Three non-governmental organisations have come together in a coalition to support reconciliation between communities in Kosovo. Humanitarian Law Centre, Aktiv, and Artpolis agreed to work to improve ethnic relations in Kosovo by increasing understanding and participation of initiatives aimed at encouraging sustainable reconciliation in Kosovo.

European Union officials that supported the establishment of the coalition spoke about the importance of such initiatives and noted that Kosovo should draw lessons from the EU countries that found the path towards reconciliation after a bitter past.

Serbian general leaves meeting in Brussels due to Kosovo’s presence (RTK)

General Predrag Bandic, head of Serbia’s delegation could not stand the presence of Kosovo officials at the meeting for normalization of aviation in Balkans, which was held in Brussels. He left the meeting when Kosovo’s Deputy Minister of Defense Burim Ramadani and Kosovo’s Civil Aviation Director Esat Basha started the discussions. “Such behaviors of the Serbian General do not contribute to joint regional approach of normalization of the aviation in the Balkans. I express my regret for this action,” Ramadani said.

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