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UNMIK Headlines 9 August

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• Haradinaj to FAZ: I have never threatened witnesses (media)
• MFA: Kosovo committed in implementing freedom of movement agreement (media)
• CEC mobilises secretariat (Koha)
• Konjufca: Assembly dissolution delayed as LDK doesn’t have PM candidate (T7)
• Surroi: Government would have fallen in autumn, it lost legitimacy (Telegrafi)
• Shala: North Macedonia to remove barriers or face reciprocity (Epoka e Re)
• Berisha: Serbia’s reckless statements incite interethnic tensions (Bota Sot)
• Veseli: Tomor Morina to return to his family soon (RTK)
• Italy expels suspected Kosovar member of Islamic group (media)

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  • Haradinaj to FAZ: I have never threatened witnesses (media)
  • MFA: Kosovo committed in implementing freedom of movement agreement (media)
  • CEC mobilises secretariat (Koha)
  • Konjufca: Assembly dissolution delayed as LDK doesn’t have PM candidate (T7)
  • Surroi: Government would have fallen in autumn, it lost legitimacy (Telegrafi)
  • Shala: North Macedonia to remove barriers or face reciprocity (Epoka e Re)
  • Berisha: Serbia’s reckless statements incite interethnic tensions (Bota Sot)
  • Veseli: Tomor Morina to return to his family soon (RTK)
  • Italy expels suspected Kosovar member of Islamic group (media)

Haradinaj to FAZ: I have never threatened witnesses (media)

Online media published an interview Ramush Haradinaj, outgoing Prime Minister of Kosovo and leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), gave to the German daily paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung where he spoke about his interview with Specialist Chambers, his resignation and opposition to the border changes idea.

Haradinaj said that his interview in The Hague lasted for about an hour and that on advice of his attorney, he did not reply to any of the questions. “Investigators opened issues they wanted to hear from me about, the early beginnings of the Kosovo Liberation Army and my role there. I was not confronted with specific allegations,” he said adding that he was not informed whether he would be indicted and that this was something that is up to the court to decide.

Asked to comment on the theory that the Specialist Chambers is an instrument aimed at ‘disciplining’ Kosovo politicians when they don’t heed the instructions from the western capitals, Haradinaj replied: “Being that I was twice indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal and twice acquitted, it was a big surprise for me when I was invited again. It is no secret that I have rejected border changes in our region, a project that has been supported by a part of the international community, as being very dangerous. This is why I say that the 100 percent tax on Serbian goods, imposed by the Government I led, will remain until Serbia recognises independence of Kosovo. Taking into consideration all these circumstances, of course there are many theories and speculations about how that invitation came for me.”

Haradinaj further said that he was aware of the consequences when introducing the import tax on Serbia, but that he was honest with the U.S. and the EU and told them that change of borders threatens stability in Kosovo and the region. “It is also very difficult to open our market to a neighbouring country which questions our existence and threatens us. This is why there is unity in Kosovo for the tax to remain until recognition.”

Haradinaj rejected claims that he resigned the post of prime minister because the ruling coalition was about to collapse. “This coalition was facing big challenges, but they did not affect my resignation. An invitation from a court however presents an entirely new chapter,” he said.

Haradinaj was also asked about the protection of witnesses and more specifically claims that witnesses who were supposed to testify against him either died or recalled their testimonies. He denied this being the case. “Serge Brammertz, former head of the War Crimes Tribunal [ICTY] was asked the same question in Belgrade in 2011 and he replied that in my case not a single witness was killed. In the second case against me in The Hague, the judges concluded that I made a call for witnesses not to be threatened. Of course witness protection is an issue in Kosovo but it has been proven it is wrong to link this to processes against me.”

MFA: Kosovo committed in implementing freedom of movement agreement (media)

Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a reaction regarding the implementation of the Brussels agreement with Belgrade on free movement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo reaffirms strong commitment of Kosovo institutions in implementation of the Brussels agreement and in guaranteeing freedom of movement in line with Brussels agreement for citizens of Serbia. According to Article 3 of the Brussels Agreement on Freedom of Movement, “each party can apply a system whereby identity cards will be accompanied by written ‘entry/exit’ documents for persons from the other party that wish to transit to a third country”, the reaction reads.

Furthermore, added the Kosovo foreign ministry, Kosovo border police is fully implementing the Brussels agreement and that Serbian citizens can enter Kosovo with an ID at any time. “The border delays are being caused by Serbian border authorities, which has resulted in long waiting periods for the citizens that wish to enter Kosovo.”

CEC mobilises secretariat (Koha)

The paper reports on its front page that representatives of opposition parties in the Central Election Commission (CEC) have called for the activation of this mechanism in order to avoid surprises that may arise from the elections, although a date for fresh elections has yet to be announced. At a meeting held on Thursday, opposition representatives recalled problems from previous election cycles and raised concerns over short operational deadlines that the CEC may be faced with. They have agreed to mobilise the CEC secretariat. CEC chairperson Valdete Daka said the secretariat needs to be mobilised for the elections which according to her can be held in September or early October. “We need to assure the public that we are ready to organise elections whenever they are announced. As a decision-making body, we call on the secretariat not to start preparations for elections but to get mobilised so that if we have elections next month or in two months, they can be ready to respond to the request to organise elections,” Daka said.

Konjufca: Assembly dissolution delayed as LDK doesn’t have PM candidate (T7)

Glauk Konjufca, caucus of the Vetevendosje Movement, told T7 broadcaster on Thursday that dissolution of the Kosovo Assembly has been delayed because the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) agreed with the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) to hold the Assembly session on 22 August, as the LDK does not have a candidate for Prime Minister yet.  He said that if Assembly dissolved earlier, LDK would be without a candidate for PM during election campaign and added that this would be a major disadvantage. Konjufca concluded that the assembly dissolution is not happening because LDK needs time. Konjufca further talked about an eventual coalition with the LDK saying that “it would have been good for Kosovo if Albin Kurti became Prime Minister and if he would be controlled by Vjosa Osmani as Assembly Speaker. Everything would flow well.” Konjufca added that this could have been “the perfect duo”. “By being united, LDK would manage to propose a Prime Minister that opposes Kadri Veseli. This would have been perfect,” Konjufca said. 

Surroi: Government would have fallen in autumn, it lost legitimacy (Telegrafi)

Publicist Veton Surroi in an interview with Tirana-based RTV ORA News said that the government of Kosovo had lost legitimacy and would not have been able to continue mandate past autumn. “The government had no votes, it had lost legitimacy and for a while it was surviving to a large degree on a legitimate need to resist president’s efforts to enter a process of territorial exchanges with Serbia,” Surroi said.

“Since this project was to a large extent prevented, it was clear that early autumn would be the time when this government would fall. Hence, the step was more political than of any other context,” Surroi said referring to the resignation of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.

In summarizing the performance of the government of Kosovo during this mandate, Surroi said: “Haradinaj has done well in leading the process against partition of Kosovo and exchange of territories and has done well in pushing forward the agenda for creation of Kosovo Army. These are the two achievements of this government. Others are a series of negative actions, culminating in full-blown failures in some spheres. It is a government that to a large extent spent on itself and not on the citizens of Kosovo.”

Shala: North Macedonia to remove barriers or face reciprocity (Epoka e Re)

Kosovo’s outgoing Minister of Trade and Industry, Endrit Shala, called on authorities in North Macedonia to remove barriers towards Kosovo products or face reciprocity measures.

In a letter to North Macedonian Minister of Economy Kreshnik Bekteshi, Shala said that barriers to the export of fish from Kosovo represent a violation of the CEFTA agreement and “a deep concern for my government and I invite you to find a solution to this issue as soon as possible.”

“We are awaiting from authorities in North Macedonia to remove these trade barriers or else we will be forced to react. The reaction would imply same treatment for products from North Macedonia that enter the market of the Republic of Kosovo,” Shala said in the letter.

Berisha: Serbia’s reckless statements incite interethnic tensions (Bota Sot)

Kosovo’s outgoing Minister of Defence, Rrustem Berisha and the Kosovo Security Force Commander Rrahman Rama met separately yesterday Michel Soula, Head of Operations at NATO Headquarters accompanied by Michael Oberneyer, Director of NATO Advisory and Liaison Team (NALT).

Berisha informed his interlocutors about the transition of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) saying the process will be transparent. Berisha also said that “reckless” statements of Serbian leaders do not contribute to peace and stability and incite increase of ethnic tensions.

Soula on his part is reported to have expressed NATO’s longstanding commitment to Kosovo and underlined that the support through NALT for the KSF will continue.

Veseli: Tomor Morina to return to his family soon (RTK)

Kosovo’s Assembly Speaker, Kadri Veseli, took to Facebook to write that former KLA member, Tomor Morina, who was arrested in North Macedonia based on an Interpol warrant, will soon return to his family. He wrote that Morina will not be extradited to Serbia under any circumstances and added that practices of these warranties that derive from Milosevic’s era, should come to an end. “He will soon return to his family. Our state will always be grateful to veterans such as Tomor, for the sacrifice and will never let them alone,” Veseli wrote.

Italy expels suspected Kosovar member of Islamic group (media)

Several news websites that Italy’s Interior Affairs Minister, Matteo Salvini, wrote on Facebook on Thursday that he has signed an order to expel a suspected Kosovar member of an Islamic group from Italy. “Today I have signed the order to expel a 43-year-old Kosovar, M.M. resident in Sienna, a member of an Islamic group that is considered to be dangerous to the security of the state,” Salvini wrote.

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