Albanian Language Media:
- Kurti: I will not fall into Vucic’s trap (europeanwesternbalkans.com)
- KSF Commander: We’re ready to send additional troops to Albania (media)
- Bajqinovci: Kurti will annul Haradinaj’s decision for new intelligence chief (media)
- Haradinaj on appointment of Head of KIA: I stand by the decision (RTK)
- Kosovo government allocates 500,000 euros for the tragedy in Albania (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Dacic: Haradinaj and Kurti showed to entire world that Pristina is problem (RTS)
- Six people will be charged with Ivanovic’s murder – Radoicic is not one of them (B92, KoSSev)
- Vucic sends condolences to Albania, offers help (Beta, N1)
- Kosovo Intelligence Chiefs’ Appointment Sparks Criticism (Balkan Insight)
- 3 Women Repatriated From Syria Face Terror Charges in Kosovo (VoA)
- Kurti Edges Closer to Becoming Kosovo’s Next PM (Balkan Insight)
- Kosovo government allocates 500,000 euros for the tragedy in Albania (media)
- KoSSev: Mitrovica North – Inhabitants of single block residence alone in their misery (KoSSev)
- ‘The Last Story’ installation puts domestic violence in the public eye (Prishtina Insight)
Albanian Language Media
Kurti: I will not fall into Vucic’s trap (europeanwesternbalkans.com)
What is the scope of reciprocity with Serbia, put forward by the representatives of the coalition that will most probably represent a government in Kosovo in the next four years? What is the position of the future government of Kosovo on the existing agreements with Serbia, most of which are still not being implemented? What will the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue look like, and what are the possible concessions? These are some of the topics European Western Balkans discussed with Albin Kurti, the winner of the snap elections in Kosovo on 6 October and the candidate for the new Prime Minister.
European Western Balkans: You recently said that you are planning to abolish 100% tariffs on goods from Serbia, but that other measures will be introduced, based on the principle of reciprocity. Which exact measures Belgrade might expect and in which way do you believe this would contribute to the normalisation of relations?
Kurti: Parliamentary group of Vetëvendosje! initiated a resolution adopted in the Assembly on 7 December 2011, which tackled comprehensive trade, economic and political reciprocity with Serbia. This was a big victory for us as an opposition party. However, neither of the governments has implemented the resolution so far. We are now aiming to become the first government that will do so, by introducing reciprocity as a criterium for good bilateral relations with Serbia. We regard Serbia as our northern neighbour and we believe that reciprocity represents a concrete, constructive and healthy solution.
Reciprocity we are talking about concerns the movement of people and goods. Export of goods from Kosovo to Serbia is currently impossible because the certificate states “Republic of Kosovo”, and Serbia does not recognize that. If you are driving a truck with the driving licence issued by the Republic of Kosovo, you receive 800 Euro penalty. We believe that, if a young woman or a man, after they graduate from the University of Kragujevac, Nis or Belgrade can teach in a school in Gracanica (Kosovo) and the opposite is not true – if somebody graduates from the University of Pristina, he or she cannot teach in Bujanovac – this has to change. When we establish full reciprocity, we would abolish the 100% tariffs, but not before that.
EWB: You have been stating that, generally speaking, you would not hurry with the negotiations. Recently you assessed that, if the United States supports the acceleration of negotiations, this is not necessary.
Kurti: I believe that we first have to be well prepared for the negotiations. Of course, I would like to have an agreement, but the speed of its conclusion should not take priority over its contents and principles. We have had a lot of agreements during the six-year dialogue in Brussels, but the problem is that they are not being implemented.
What is your opinion on the obligations taken by Kosovo in the context of the dialogue, and do you think that the existing agreements should be cancelled?
Kurti: During our first month in the Assembly of Kosovo, we will take stock of the degree of implementation of the existing agreements and how they have influenced the everyday life of our citizens so far. We would create the foundation for the continuation of the dialogue there, but not with an idea to stop with these agreements, rather to see how to reach the final agreement better and more quickly.
We would regard these agreements as a preparation, like when you are preparing to drive a car: first you look at the rearview mirror, do you have fuel and oil, what is the state of the road, and then you take off. When we take off, we would talk about development, and not reconciliation. Serbs from Gracanica have done nothing to me, and neither have I to them, so there is no need to reconcile, we can immediately focus on the development.
I have to meet with Mr Borrell and reach an agreement on the continued dialogue with Serbia. Ms Mogherini has let many different thing reach the public, and I believe that the talks between Serbia and Kosovo should be regarded in the context of European values. Not everything should be on the table.
EWB: What do you mean by “everything”?
Kurti: I think that Thaci and Vucic met on several occasions and lead secret talks in various European cities, and then they agreed to have an agreement. My impression, however, is that there are no details to that agreement.
EWB: If the change of the borders is not acceptable and if the Community of Serb Municipalities should not be formed, what are the concessions Kosovo will make in the dialogue?
Kurti: Community of Serb Municipalities is a light version of Republika Srpska, just like Marlboro light. Let us remember 1991, when 14 Serb-majority municipalities (in Bosnia and Herzegovina) united in a single community. In January 1992 they proclaimed independence, in February 1992 they adopted their own constitution, and in December 1995 they got international recognition in Dayton. I think that Belgrade wants the same in Kosovo, with the difference being that there will not be 14 municipalities but 10. This way, the Community of Serb Municipalities would become a sort of a state, which is not a republic, inside a republic which is not much of a state. It is similar in BiH, where there is Republika Srpska, which is a republic but not a state, inside of a state of BiH which is not a republic. Some sort of babushka doll. This is why I believe such solutions would only drag the conflict out and multiply the problems.
I believe that both Albanians and Serbs want two things: a job and justice. I think that the people should be the final beneficiaries of any sort of agreement, and not Vučić, Thaçi, Kurti. We cannot make agreements, if their purpose is the stability of career of a leader, whoever he may be. This is why I do not support the idea of Community of Serb Municipalities.
Besides, Constitutional Court of Kosovo said that neither of the 7 chapters of the agreement is in line with our Constitution, and that the Article 23 is also violated. This is why I think that our Constitutional Court has buried the Community in a form Belgrade wanted it to exist. And Belgrade does not want another sort of community. What it wants is a sort of a zombie: to dig out something the Constitutional Court has already buried and make it come back to life. However, they are losing precious time.
On the other hand, it is very important to say that a big pressure on Serbs in Kosovo exists. Belgrade insists on the Community, but not one Serb protested against its annulment in December 2015. The question is, do Serbs in Kosovo have smaller or bigger pressures with the Community? I think that the pressure is bigger. Such a Community would not free Serbs from Kosovo, but strengthen the dictate of Belgrade over them.
Let us now reflect on the correction of borders, which is actually an exchange of territories. President of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi calls the exchange “the correction of borders with a painful compromise”, and president of Serbia “demarcation”. What kind of corrections, what are the mistakes and why does it has to be painful? I think that the idea comes from the President Thaçi, and he has had two years to convince the people of Kosovo. Instead of convincing them, he caused the biggest protests in post-war Kosovo on 29 September last year, the consequence was completely opposite from the goal. So, that project has failed, but the idea has not. It is not the same situation as in the case of Community of Serb Municipalities, which was buried by the Constitutional Court, this is an unsuccessful project, in which the idea is not yet dead, it exists, just like the film Body Snatchers by Abel Ferrara, as some sort of spirit that wants to be embodied, but does not have a place to do it and so it floats without a body.
EWB: Following your interview with Jugoslav Cosic on Serbian N1 television, representatives of Srpska lista said that they will not enter the Assembly under the conditions you laid out in Pressing. What will you do in the case of boycott of “all Kosovo institutions”, a possibility announced by the Director of the Office of Government of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric?
Kurti: There have been temporary boycotts in the past, but nothing came out of them. I think that the representatives of Serb minority population in Kosovo know that they can help their community much more if they are in the Assembly and not outside of it. For five years I was outside the system: from 2005, when we formed the Vetëvendosje! movement to 2010. I think that it is important for us to be a part of institutions and contribute to the democratic development of this young country to the benefit of everybody. I do not think Srpska lista should be Belgrade’s tool – Kosovo should be a value in which all of us will participate. I call on them not to boycott our institutions, but to participate in their work. I believe that criticism is an engine of development, they should criticize everything they disagree with in the Assembly, I will meet with all parliamentary groups when we visit the Assembly, I will not excommunicate them.
This does not mean that I want a coalition with them. We have a constitutional responsibility to have one government minister from Serb community, and we will respect that. But I believe that they, as well as PDK, have gotten used to having a guaranteed place in the ruling coalition, no matter which governments are formed. Like an equation in which they are a constant, and everybody else are variables. That changed on 6 October election in Kosovo. A new chapter of our country is beginning, and I repeat, I will not excommunicate them, but it is regretful what kind of election Serbs got in Kosovo on 6 October due to irregularities and pressures and we will do everything for that to change in further elections. I want to see Srpska lista as the opposition during our future mandate.
EWB: Why would Serbia accept any kind of agreement on normalisation without concessions from Kosovo’s side?
Kurti: The President of Serbia has expressed two positions in the past two years, which represents a trap. He presents those positions as making a concession, while in reality he is asking for a concession. The first position is “Tell us what you can offer us, and I am ready to discuss everything, your imagination is the limit”. This could mean both national unification and border change in the Balkans, everything you want. This is the first position, which is an edge of an abyss.
The second position is “I cannot recognize the independence of Kosovo within the current borders”. I have done a lot of math during my studies and I can say that this position contains two negatives and zero affirmatives because Vucic does not say “I will recognize the independence of Kosovo,” he is denying independence, denying borders, but not affirming anything. I am not the kind of politician that would fall into such a trap. My offer is our demands.
I think Serbia owes us: both for war reparations, and for succession, let me mention just a few figures: 10.000 unarmed civilians were killed in Kosovo, more than 1000 of which were children. About 120.000 houses were burned and demolished in 1998-1999. Around 1200 artifacts stolen from our museums, bank deposits and pension funds were stolen from to finance Milošević’s war machine. There is no justice nor reparation for missing persons and raped women.
I think Serbia should think more about that, than to mourn the lost Kosovo, not carrying at all about the suffering of Albanians in the meantime. I believe that in our future relations we should determine how to stop the tears of the President of Serbia, which are not the tears of Serbs. If Serbs in Serbia are crying, that is because of poverty, because they do not have a job, and not because of Kosovo. President of Serbia crying does not represent either Serbs from Kosovo or Serbs from Serbia. It is important for the Serbian establishment to focus on introspection, after which they should show much more care about Serbian people of today than Serbian state of the past.
KSF Commander: We’re ready to send additional troops to Albania (media)
Kosovo Security Force (KSF) Commander, Rrahman Rama, confirmed that 40 members of the KSF have been deployed to Albania today to help authorities to manage the crisis after a powerful earthquake hit the country early this morning.
“Early this morning we contacted the Albanian authorities and the Albanian Army who told us that the situation is alarming as a result of the earthquake. Based on their request, we deployed our troops there. We sent a search and rescue unit, which is highly equipped and specialised, and a K-9 unit that have specialised dogs for searching under the rubble, and other equipment. After our troops there assess the situation, we are ready to deploy additional troops and equipment if necessary,” Rama told Pristina-based Kosovapress news agency.
Bajqinovci: Kurti will annul Haradinaj’s decision for new intelligence chief (media)
Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) member, Mefail Bajqinovci, who has secured enough votes to be a member of the new Kosovo Assembly, reacted to outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s decision to appoint Kreshnik Gashi as Director of the Kosovo Intelligence Agency (AKI) and Burim Ramadani as General Inspector at AKI. Bajqinovci accused the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) and Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) for “brutally seizing the security institutions”.
“The PDK and AAK have brutally seized the two security institutions, the AKI and AKI Inspectorate, by appointing their people in key positions. Kreshnik Gashi, former secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when Hashim Thaci was Foreign Minister, was appointed AKI Director. Burim Ramadani, a member of the AAK, has been appointed AKI Chief Inspector. The seizing of institutions with party members is continuing. These decisions will be declared null and void once the Kurti government takes office. Enough is enough,” Bajqinovci said.
Haradinaj on appointment of Head of KIA: I stand by the decision (RTK)
Kosovo’s acting Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, spoke at a press conference about the decision to appoint the new Kosovo Intelligence Agency chief Kreshnik Gashi and the new chief inspector of the same institution, Burim Ramadani. He said he has exercised his functions and that he stands behind this decision.
“On the appointment of the KIA director and the chief inspector, I have exercised my functions based on my competencies and I stand behind the decision,” Haradinaj said.
Kosovo government allocates 500,000 euros for the tragedy in Albania (media)
Based on the proposal of the Ministry of Finance, the government of Kosovo has allocated 500,000 euros for the tragedy in Albania, which came as a result of earthquakes.
At the extraordinary meeting of the Government of Kosovo, the Acting Minister of Finance, Bedri Hamza, proposed the decision.
Serbian Language Media
Dacic: Haradinaj and Kurti showed to entire world that Pristina is problem (RTS)
Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic told the RTS morning news programme he does not expect a positive shift in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, adding that Ramush Haradinaj and Albin Kurti with their statements showed to the entire world that Albanians are the problem.
Dacic also said he has no slightest optimism that the course of the negotiations would get better.
“If you look at who is the one you need to talk to and negotiate with in Pristina, I have no slightest optimism that anything would be better than it was with Ramush Haradinaj, perhaps (it would get) even worse. What we were saying earlier got confirmed now. Look at the latest statements of Albin Kurti who talks about the unification of Kosovo with Albania, united Albanian nation,” Dacic said.
Dacic also opined there will be no progress unless the pressure is exerted upon Pristina. “Whoever wishes may come to be a negotiator, however, without the pressure exerted upon Pristina there will be no success”.
He also noted there will be no continuation of the dialogue until the tariffs are revoked, RTS reported.
Six people will be charged with Ivanovic’s murder – Radoicic is not one of them (B92, KoSSev)
Milan Radoicic one of the main suspects in the murder of Oliver Ivanovic in the investigation conducted by Pristina, is not expected to be part of the charges for the murder that took place nearly two years ago. Although an international arrest warrant has already been issued for Radoicic, the Pristina prosecution confirmed to KTV that he will not be indicted in the case at this time, B92 reports.
According to the Pristina chief prosecutor conducting the investigation, Syle Hoxha, the indictment will include six people suspected of assisting in the murder of Ivanovic, KTV reports. Hoxha says they believe they identified one of the two men on recently posted photos when they asked the citizens for the information. According to Hoxha, the men allegedly followed Ivanovic a few minutes before he was killed.
After the Kosovo police released the photos, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the men on the photos are students at the Technical Faculty in Mitrovica North, both from Kursumlija adding that “the Serbian investigative bodies have already interviewed them and they have nothing to do with the murder of Oliver Ivanovic.”
In the meantime, Marko Rosic, one of the first detainees in the case to be held in a high-security prison, as the source of his defense team claims attempted the suicide.
Oliver Ivanovic was killed while entering his SDP party office in North Mitrovica with six bullets, on January 16, 2018.
Three people are still in custody for the murder, while the prosecution has extended investigations to many others during this period, including members of the party of the late SDP leader Oliver Ivanovic.
See at: https://bit.ly/2OlXg0d
Vucic sends condolences to Albania, offers help (Beta, N1)
Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s President, sent condolences to the Albanian leaders, president Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama after a devastating Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s President, sent condolences to the Albanian leaders, president Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama after a devastating earthquake 0f 6.4 degrees on the Richter Scale hit their country, the Beta news agency reported on Tuesday.
It was followed by another one of 6.5 degrees.
Vucic said Serbia was ready to do what it can to help in the removal of the earthquake consequences.
“We watch the destruction in Durres and other places with sorrow. Let us express our condolences to you and the families of the victims and compassion with those still looking for their loved ones,” Vucic said.
The data so far say that eight people are confirmed killed when Albania was hit by some 20 aftershocks in the period of three and a half hours this morning, the strongest in the last 30 years.
Among the victims there are no Serbia’s nationals, the country’s ambassador to Tirana Miroljub Zaric said.
See at: https://bit.ly/33mfRgQ
Kosovo Intelligence Chiefs’ Appointment Sparks Criticism (Balkan Insight)
Outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj announced two appointments to top posts at Kosovo’s intelligence agency, drawing criticism from Vetevendosje, the party currently preparing to form a government after recent elections.
In a surprise move on Monday, outgoing premier Ramush Haradinaj announced that in coordination with President Hashim Thaci, he has appointed Kreshnik Gashi as the new head of Kosovo Intelligence Agency, KIA, and Burim Ramadani as its General Inspector.
“The profiles of the appointees as public figures with integrity and experts on security guarantee the KIA’s professionalism and credibility,” Haradinaj said when making the appointments public.
3 Women Repatriated From Syria Face Terror Charges in Kosovo (VoA)
Kosovo prosecutors have filed terrorism charges against three women repatriated from Syria for allegedly joining terror groups there.
Prosecutors said Monday that the three women had left Kosovo in 2013, 2014 and 2015 to join the Islamic State group in Syria and Al-Nusra in Iraq. Spouses of two of them had died, apparently in fighting there.
The three women were among 110 Kosovo citizens repatriated from Syria in April.
If convicted, they could face a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
See at: http://bit.ly/2KUDIhv
Kurti Edges Closer to Becoming Kosovo’s Next PM (Balkan Insight)
Albin Kurti will seal his bid to become Kosovo’s next Prime Minister at the head of a coalition government once he nails down the support of a couple of MPs representing minority communities.
Albin Kurti looks closer towards becoming the next Prime Minister of Kosovo after he and Isa Mustafa, chairman of the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, last Friday confirmed that the two parties had made progress towards forming a coalition government.
“We talked about what we need to agree on for a coalition agreement,” Mustafa said.
See at: http://bit.ly/2KSIts0
KoSSev: Mitrovica North – Inhabitants of single block residence alone in their misery (KoSSev)
Inhabitants of a single block residence in Mitrovica North staged yesterday one-hour protest for the second time due to inhumane living conditions they are living in for the last three years, since the building was caught on fire, KoSSev portal reports.
The first protest, which took place ten days ago, went unnoticed, without the presence of the media or attention of the citizens. The living conditions in the building prior to the fire were also difficult, however it is clear now that current ones represent a hazard to the general health, KoSSev portal reports, adding that residents will protest every day, until their issue is resolved.
The building almost destroyed by fire is located near the court building, police station, primary school and a rectorate in Mitrovica North.
The fire caught the building’s roof and the third floor in July 2017, and some of the affected families were relocated to the objects of the Centre for Social Welfare and Students’ Dormitory. Following the fire, representative of the Interim Council for Mitrovica North visited the families and promised to help.
In the meantime, around 20 persons, slightly more than half of the number that used to live in the building prior to the fire, returned to the building. They told KoSSev they had to do so, because they had no other option. Currently they live on the first and second floors of the building, using common bathroom and toilet. Radomir Mojsic, one of the residents said there are 26 persons in total. He also noted the roof of the building, affected by the fire, has been reconstruction but nothing else.
Around 15 persons protested yesterday, mainly elderly people. “Come and visit us, come and see where we live,” they told KoSSev.
Protest’s participants said they are displeased with the reactions of the local authorities and sanitary inspection. They also said they sought help from various institutions in central Serbia and Trepca enterprise which owns the building. KoSSev said it had an insight into all these requests.
KoSSev also said it had an insight into the decision of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija from August 2017, allocating funds in the amount of 5.8 million RSD to repair the damages caused by fire. The same document noted it is about the first phase of the reparation and the first phase had been completed.
The portal also said it has sent enquiries to the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and Interim Council of Mitrovica North seeking information if there are further plans for the reparations of the premises of single block residence in Street Filip Visnjic in Mitrovica North.
The full article and photos of the building can be seen at: https://bit.ly/37HT6HY
‘The Last Story’ installation puts domestic violence in the public eye (Prishtina Insight)
An installation telling the stories of women killed following domestic violence opened in front of the Kosovo Assembly building on Monday, with organizers inviting public officials to sign a commitment to ending domestic violence as part of the initiative.
To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, an installation named ‘The Last Story’ featuring the names and stories of victims of femicide and domestic violence is being displayed outside the Kosovo Assembly building from Monday, November 25 to Wednesday, November 27.
The installation details the circumstances of the deaths of 11 women in Kosovo over recent years, the same number that have been killed between 2017 and 2019, according to Kosovo Police reports. It was designed and implemented by the Kosovo Center for Counselling, Social Services and Research, SIT, and aims to commemorate these women and raise awareness among the public, as well as government and parliamentary officials, concerning the prevention of domestic violence.
See at: https://bit.ly/2QYzgSu