Albanian Language Media:
- NISMA accuses Vetevendosje of intimidating observers at counting centre (media)
- 337 new members join KSF (Kosovapress)
- Dehari family requests Swiss institute be involved in investigations into their son’s death (media)
- Daka: Political entities should keep calm and serve the democratic process (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Telecommunications are Serbia’s decision, NATO’s Stoltenberg says (N1, VoA)
- Serbia’s flags and “Kosovo is Serbia” chants during soccer game in Plzeň (N1, Beta)
- US Ambassador Philip Kosnett visits Novo Brdo (RTV Puls)
- The Serbian List’s press release on Berlin’s two-day visit (Kontakt plus radio)
- Protest over wastewater in Gracanica, both Serbs and Albanians seek suspension of work (KIM radio, RTS)
- Carpenter: Kosovo won’t be Trump’s foreign policy success in 2020 (European Western Balkans)
- Germany’s Maas says Western Balkan states belong in EU (DW)
- EU Enlargement Nominee Eyes 2020 Serbia-Kosovo Deal (Balkan Insight)
- North Macedonia PM: Working with Russia ‘Not an Alternative to EU’ (Balkan Insight)
- UNDP marks Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (Kosovapress)
- Kosovan firebrand Jeton Neziraj: ”Theatre should side with the victims” (The Guardian)
Albanian Language Media
NISMA accuses Vetevendosje of intimidating observers at counting centre (media)
Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA) has accused Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) of intimidating and threatening observers at the Counting and Results Centre (CRC) during the recount process of more than a half of overall ballots cast in 6 October parliamentary elections.
In a statement, the party said their observers in the recounting process have noted many irregularities and faced pressure from Vetevendosje officials that are part of the Central Election Commission (CEC).
“LVV representatives to the CEC, namely Nazlie Balaj and Adnan Rrustemi, have continually interfered in the tables where the recount of ballots is taking place by threatening and intimidating the staff and observers at the CRC,” NISMA said calling LVV officials’ actions ‘scandalous’.
“They interfered by grabbing the ballots and determining which are valid and which are not,” NISMA said further. “No member of the CEC has the right to interfere at the counting tables and actively engage in the recount, and even less so take an active role in assessing the validity of votes.”
NISMA called on CEC chief, Valdete Daka, to urgently intervene and take action against Vetevendosje representatives.
337 new members join KSF (Kosovapress)
337 new members have officially joined today the Kosovo Security Force after completing the basic training at the Command for Training and Doctrine.
KSF Commander Rrahman Rama said on the occasion that the Force is committed to contribute to peace and security in the region. “KSF can help peace and security anywhere in the world alongside NATO troops,” he said.
Dehari family requests Swiss institute be involved in investigations into their son’s death (media)
Tome Gashi, legal representative of the Dehari family, whose son Astrit was found dead while in a detention facility in Prizren, has formally submitted a request to the Special Prosecution of Kosovo asking it to involve a Swiss forensic institute in investigating their son’s death.
Gashi said a new investigative process is necessary to clarify the circumstances that led to the death of Astrit Dehari, a Vetevendosje activist.
The Lausanne-based institute also conducted a forensic examination and concluded that self-inflicted injuries are the unlikely cause of Dehari’s death. Gashi argued that the same institute should continue to be involved in the process. “They have offered their labs and a special investigator that would assist Kosovo institutions – the Special Prosecution of Kosovo – to identify the killers of Astrit Dehari,” he said.
Daka: Political entities should keep calm and serve the democratic process (media)
Head of the Central Election Commission, Valdete Daka called on the representatives of political entities and their observers to be maximally cautious for the integrity of the process taking place in the Counts and Results Center, by respecting the rules and procedures of this center, serving in this manner the democratic process.
In a public statement Daka said that any breach of the Counting and Results Center procedures and rules is in contradiction with the observer’s signed statement and in contradiction with the law.
“Counting officers should be allowed to do their job freely, unhindered and professionally. Any interference with the work of counting officials complicates and slows down the process of certifying final results and obliges the CEC to take measures against individuals who do not comply with the observation rules. Any party who has objections to administration of the count of the Counts and Results Center may file a complaint with the ECAP, as the Law on General Elections is clear in this regard,” Daka said.
Serbian Language Media
Telecommunications are Serbia’s decision, NATO’s Stoltenberg says (N1, VoA)
Serbia does not intend to join NATO and it takes its own decisions on telecommunications and infrastructure, Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Voice of America on Friday.
Asked about China’s role in the Western Balkans, Stoltenberg said that it’s up to Serbia to decide on its civilian infrastructure and telecommunications.
“We can ask them or advise them but it’s up to Serbia to decide on the type of telecommunications it wants and how it wants to organize its civilian infrastructure. We welcome the fact that Serbia is a close partner to NATO. We cooperate with Serbia,” he said and recalled a recent civilian emergency services exercise in Serbia, his visit to Serbia and meeting with the Serbian president.
Stoltenberg said that NATO members and candidate countries have to meet some requirements in terms of civilian infrastructure and telecommunications such as 5G technology but added that this does not apply to non-member states.
Serbia’s flags and “Kosovo is Serbia” chants during soccer game in Plzeň (N1, Beta)
The EURO 2020 qualifying soccer match between the Czech Republic and Kosovo national teams in Plzeň was marked by incidents, including Serbia’s flags in the stadium and home team supporters chants “Kosovo is still Serbia” despite warnings by Prague’s authorities to the audience to avoid UEFA punishment for political messages during the match, the Beta news agency reported.
The die-hard supporters of the local Plzeň team waved Serbia’s flags during the playing of Kosovo national anthem, and in the 18th minute of the match chanted “Kosovo is still Serbia,” local media reported.
The home team won 2-1.
Another incident happened near the Kosovo supporters’ hotel when local fans attacked the guests. The police intervened and arrested 20 Czech’s supporters.
Czech authorities took severe security measures to prevent the expected incidents, including the ban on foreign insignia in the stadium. However, some of Serbia’s flags were smuggled in.
The tickets were also hard to get, and the police were reinforced with cavalry.
Czech President Milos Zeman said last September that Prague might reconsider its recognition of Kosovo’s independence in the near future. Other officials said it would be difficult but not impossible.
US Ambassador Philip Kosnett visits Novo Brdo (RTV Puls)
RTV Puls reported that the US Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett visited Novo Brdo yesterday where he spoke with the priest of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Bostane village, Stevo Mitric, and members of the church board, after which he visited Musical School Stevan Hristic in Stanisor.
In the musical school, Kosnett attended a classical music concert that thrilled him, reported RTV Puls.
“Being at the Music School is a reminder that Kosovo, like the US, must be a multicultural and multi-ethnic society. The cultural wealth that the Serbian community brings to this country is really extraordinary. I told parents and teachers that they are all heroes because they live in Kosovo, enabling their children a future,” Kosnett said in an interview with RTV Puls.
Commenting on the increasingly active role of the US in the Western Balkans, especially after the appointment of Special Envoys Matthew Palmer and Richard Grenell, Kosnett expressed hope that the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade would resume soon.
“President Trump’s administration has shown that we are deeply committed to supporting our friends in the Western Balkans in building a future of peace, justice and prosperity for everyone. As is well known, last year President Trump sent a letter to President Thaci and President Vucic to underline our commitment to it. The fact that we have now appointed two special envoys, one working for the White House Rick Grenell and one for the State Department Met Palmer, is a concrete indication of our seriousness in helping the authorities in Kosovo and Serbia in finding a way to return to the negotiating table in order to create a comprehensive and long-lasting peace,” pointed the ambassador.
Commenting on the recent early parliamentary elections in Kosovo, the US ambassador to Pristina said that the results, though not final, clearly indicate that people from Kosovo want change.
“All people in Kosovo want a better future for their children. Many of the problems Serbs face are the same as the majority community. Lack of economic opportunities, lack of employment, deficiencies in education sector … I think all people in Kosovo want to find a way forward together,” Kosnett said, adding that he expects parties, both those who form the new government and those in the opposition to play an important role in creating a positive atmosphere for the continuation of a dialogue with Serbia, which could be reached fairly quickly.
Assessing the future of the Western Balkans in the future, Kosnett is optimistic.
“I believe people from Kosovo and people from Serbia are unhappy with the current situation. At the US Embassy, we talk a lot about the importance of economic development in Kosovo, the importance of fighting corruption and establishing justice for everyone, regardless of community. I think the people of Kosovo are ready for a change. I also believe that justice, prosperity and peace cannot be discussed separately. The three goals are closely linked, and improved relations between Kosovo and Serbia will open the door to better prosperity and better justice for both countries,” Ambassador Kosnett told RTV Pulse.
The Serbian List’s press release on Berlin’s two-day visit (Kontakt plus radio)
In the past two days, a delegation of Serbian List, with the President Goran Rakic, Vice President Dalibor Jevtic and member of Presidency Bratislav Nikolic met with several German MPs in the Bundestag before talking to Matthias Lüttenberg, Advisor to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“The interlocutors congratulated the political representatives of Serbs from Kosmet on the victory of the Serbian List in the elections and expressed their expectation that soon after the formation of the new Government in Pristina, decisions would be made that would contribute to the continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.
Matthias Lüttenberg stated unequivocally that Chancellor Angela Merkel expects that in addition to the full respect of the electoral will of all citizens and all communities, precisely the Government should act in the interest of all citizens, majority and non-majority people”.
“Serbian List delegation indicated that full respect for the democratic will of the Serbian people is important, that positions in the Government themselves are not a priority, especially in conditions where the winner of the elections within the Albanian community is constantly trying to degrade the Serbian List and its representatives with his position that he will only talk with those Serbs he deems relevant.
Also, President of Serbian List Goran Rakic stressed that the refusal to speak with the only legally and legitimately elected representatives of Kosmet Serbs, lack of respect for Serbian rights and harsh rhetoric of some Albanian leaders do not contribute to stability and further reinforce mistrust among peoples of Kosmet.”
“On the second day of their visit to Berlin, political representatives of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija spoke at the German Federal Foreign Office with the Special Envoy and Director of the department of this ministry for South-East Europe, Susanne Schütz. Noting that it is necessary to work on processes that will contribute to stability and economic development, it was concluded in the meeting that it is necessary for everyone to contribute to these goals. At the meeting, it was reiterated that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue had no alternative. Representatives of Serbian List stressed in this regard that the political courage and determination shown by President Aleksandar Vucic is something that Albanian politicians need to have in order to enable the resolution of problems between Serbs and Albanians, or rather Belgrade and Pristina.
Serbian List ended its two-day visit to Berlin with a meeting, which lasted about an hour, between Serbian List Vice President Dalibor Jevtic and US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and US Ambassador to Berlin, Richard Grenell”.
Protest over wastewater in Gracanica, both Serbs and Albanians seek suspension of work (KIM radio, RTS)
Representatives of several dozen families in Gracanica protested today about the occurrence of wastewater and odours near their homes.
Wastewater is retained after the construction of a closed sewage system from the village of Ajvalija.
Radisav Dimitrijevic from Gracanica explains that wastewater has emerged through the expansion of the village of Ajvalija and the construction of houses towards the inhabited part of Gracanica.
“The sewage from the newly built houses drains into the sewer and is kept in the closed stream bed,” Dimitrijevic said.
Dimitrijevic claims that sewage is being built to meet the needs of an investor who plans to erect an apartment block.
“Bexhet Pacolli has bought this property and all this is being done because of it,” Dimitrijevic points out.
Underground sewerage and closure of the creek bad are carried out by the Ministry of Spatial Planning of the Kosovo Government without the knowledge and approval of the municipal administration in Gracanica.
“They started two projects on the territory of our municipality without our consent. We would certainly give a correction proposal to continue the sewerage to the end and not just in one part,” said municipal urban planning official Dejan Jovanovic.
Carpenter: Kosovo won’t be Trump’s foreign policy success in 2020 (European Western Balkans)
What is the US policy on the Western Balkans, how to understand the US support for border change between Serbia and Kosovo and is there a rift between the EU and the US in the region? About these and some other issues, EWB spoke with Michael Carpenter,Senior Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and former foreign policy advisor to US Vice President Joe Biden.
Germany’s Maas says Western Balkan states belong in EU (DW)
Germany’s endorsement for EU enlargement has become increasingly visible since it launched in 2014 the so-called Berlin process, an annual summit of all six Western Balkan states, designed to help pave the way for future accession talks into the bloc.
Germany’s vested interest makes Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’ stop in the Balkans this week even more important. But it comes against the backdrop of a number of EU states putting a spanner in the works by snubbing memberships talks for North Macedonia and Albania. Maas will endeavor to offer a sliver of hope to the Western Balkan countries by telling them that they are an integral part of Europe.
EU Enlargement Nominee Eyes 2020 Serbia-Kosovo Deal (Balkan Insight)
Hungary’s candidate for the post of European Union enlargement commissioner set out an ambitious plan for integration of the Balkan region before the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Thursday, including a target of 2020 to broker a deal to settle relations between Serbia and its former southern province, Kosovo.
Career diplomat Oliver Varhelyi has been nominated by the nationalist government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban to replace Austria’s Johannes Hahn in the role of steering enlargement policy, a policy further cast into doubt last month when France vetoed the start of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania.
UNDP marks Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (Kosovapress)
UNDP in Kosovo through the “Interdev 2” project is organising a fair with association of women producers to mark the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.
13 producers from the Albanian and Gorani communities from Vitia and Dragash will showcase their products at the Cultural Centre in Vitia.
The opening of the fair will be attended by Vitia Mayor Sokol Haliti as well as representatives from the Austrian Development Agency and UNDP.
Kosovan firebrand Jeton Neziraj: ”Theatre should side with the victims” (The Guardian)
Jeton Neziraj has clear views about the role of drama. “Theatre should be on the side of those who have no power, on the side of victims, on the side of minorities,” he says. Arguably Kosovo’s leading playwright, he attacks his country’s political issues head-on. His 2018 play The Hypocrites, or The English Patient, savaged the dire state of the healthcare system and was inspired by a bribery scandal.
North Macedonia PM: Working with Russia ‘Not an Alternative to EU’ (Balkan Insight)
North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said that attempts to widen economic cooperation with Russia are not a response to the EU’s refusal to give his country a start date for membership negotiations.