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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, November 28, 2019

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, November 28, 2019

Albanian Language Media:

• Thaci: Situation in Albania remains grave, KSF to send more troops (media)
• Kurti and Mustafa to meet in the Assembly today (Gazeta Express)
• Osmani: Deal with Serbia should include mutual recognition (EWB)
• Excavations into suspected mass grave in Pristina to continue on Friday (RFE)

Serbian Language Media:

• The tragedy offers hope after all, which is shown on a single photo (B92, Tanjug, AP, Balkan Insight)
• Croatian MEP Picula appointed as EP rapporteur for Western Balkans (Hina, N1)
• Vucic intensifies relations with Russia, US Defence Ministry says (RFE, N1)
• Joseph: West to reconsider relations with Vucic after Pentagon report (VoA, N1, RTS)
• SNS, Kosovo Serb List officials appointed to University, faculties’ councils (Insajder, N1)
• Rosic’s father: Marko subjected to police torture (Tanjug, B92, Politika)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Single block buildings’ residents continue protest, municipal authorities say requests for priority allocation of apartments ‘unfounded’ (KoSSev)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Thaci: Situation in Albania remains grave, KSF to send more troops (media)
  • Kurti and Mustafa to meet in the Assembly today (Gazeta Express)
  • Osmani: Deal with Serbia should include mutual recognition (EWB)
  • Excavations into suspected mass grave in Pristina to continue on Friday (RFE)

Serbian Language Media:

  • The tragedy offers hope after all, which is shown on a single photo (B92, Tanjug, AP, Balkan Insight)
  • Croatian MEP Picula appointed as EP rapporteur for Western Balkans (Hina, N1)
  • Vucic intensifies relations with Russia, US Defence Ministry says (RFE, N1)
  • Joseph: West to reconsider relations with Vucic after Pentagon report (VoA, N1, RTS)
  • SNS, Kosovo Serb List officials appointed to University, faculties’ councils (Insajder, N1)
  • Rosic’s father: Marko subjected to police torture (Tanjug, B92, Politika)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Single block buildings’ residents continue protest, municipal authorities say requests for priority allocation of apartments ‘unfounded’ (KoSSev)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Thaci: Situation in Albania remains grave, KSF to send more troops (media)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said today that the situation in Albania remains grave after Tuesday’s powerful earthquake, most news outlets report. “I closely followed the meeting of the Government of Albania and the assessment of the situation by Prime Minister Rama. There is an urgent need to manage the consequences so that no more lives are put in danger,” President Thaci wrote in a Facebook post. He said that after a telephone conversation with Rama, he decided that additional troops of the Kosovo Security Force would be deployed to Albania today. Thaci also said “the return of people to their homes must be done in an organised fashion and only after a safe conclusion that the houses and flats are safe and that there are no more threats of other disasters”.

Kurti and Mustafa to meet in the Assembly today (Gazeta Express)

Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) leader Albin Kurti and Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa will meet today at 16:00 in the premises of the Kosovo Assembly to discuss a ruling coalition agreement. Citing reliable sources, the news website notes that the highest leaders of the two parties will attend the meeting to discuss political issues on which their respective working groups could not agree. Gazeta Express adds that according to its information, there is a slim chance that a coalition agreement will be signed today, but it is not ruled out.

Osmani: Deal with Serbia should include mutual recognition (EWB)

In the midst of preparations for forming the new government in Kosovo, European Western Balkans spoke with Vjosa Osmani Sadriu, the deputy president of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and the first female candidate for the post of the prime minister of Kosovo in the aftermath of the October elections. In the light of the recent announcement of the coalition partners – The Self-determination Movement led by Albin Kurti and the LDK, that no other coalition talks will be held, we spoke to Osmani about the prospects of dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo and the stand the new government will take in regards to the Serb List and Kosovo-Russia relations.

European Western Balkans: How do you see the continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina normalization process once the new government takes the seat?

Osmani: Certainly, a lot of things are going to change for the better. This government is not going to use the dialogue to hide behind it for its failures and dealing with domestic policies, having in mind that the dialogue was previously used for covering up every single mistake the government had made.

What we want to do with our coalition partner, Vetëvendosje Movement, is to make sure that we deal both with domestic issues as well as with foreign policy. While relations with Serbia might seem distant to the daily life of our citizens, they are actually not. The sooner we conclude the final agreement with Serbia, the better for the entire region, especially when it comes to creating a better economic perspective for our country. When we meet with foreign investors and domestic businesses, they talk about political risks and the legal unpredictability and we have to address this. The deal with Serbia should include mutual recognition since this is going to remove any obstacle for those who are considering investing in Kosovo.

On the other hand, normalization as such has so far been seen more of a theoretical concept. We have to make sure that we translate it to what it means for our citizens in practice. There was an agreement in 2010 in the UN General Assembly to start the dialogue under the EU auspices. The idea was to make sure that this process benefits the citizens, rather than turning into a political handshake between the two leaders, and that is where it all ends. Unfortunately, throughout these years, we have seen that the focus of the EU was on the handshake rather than on what happens with the agreements afterward. This resulted in 33 agreements, most of which are not being implemented by Serbia. 

There is a lot of what we can do. As LDK we believe that dialogue is the only way to resolve issues with our neighbors, including Serbia. But, of course, we would never allow issues such as the borders to be discussed, as well as any issues related to our sovereignty or our functionality as an independent state. 

EWB: The full normalization of relations is expected to require Kosovo to agree to either change borders or establish an Association of Serbian Municipalities on the basis of existing arrangements, the Brussels Agreement, and the 2015 ASM Agreement. Where do you see the possibility of a compromise?

Osmani: As the Democratic League of Kosovo we believe in a project of Kosovo free, independent and sovereign. We have believed in this since our establishment and we have done everything to make it work, which is why president Rugova is deemed to be the architect of independent Kosovo. The borders of 17 February 2008 are the borders under which we are recognized by more than half of the free world. 

We have to look at the situation as it stands right now, and even though we cannot make decisions only based on history, we need to make sure that we do not forget history and huge sacrifice the people of Kosovo have made throughout the years. We lost more than 13.0000 civilians, 20.000 women of this country have been raped, thousands of children, women and elderly have been killed, and massacred and burned down alive and there is still no justice for these victims. It was the project of the Republic of Kosovo that they died for. Now to go back and say: we are not going to take into account the sacrifice of the 1990s is something our party would not be ready to do.

The Agreement regarding the Association of Serbian Municipalities has been repealed by our Constitutional court in 2015. I do not think that we can go beyond anything that the Constitutional Court of Kosovo has said. If there is one institution for which we have established the tradition of respecting its decisions in Kosovo, that is the constitutional court of Kosovo. We are not going to break that tradition for Serbia. I think that it could damage the foundation of the country. 

The Court also said that the Association of Serbian Municipalities should be established without any executive powers and in line with the constitution. So, yes – there can be an Association, with no executive power. The intention is to make Kosovo a second Bosnia and make it internally non-functional so that it turns into a frozen conflict in the future. That is, I think, an extremely dangerous policy we should absolutely fight. 

On the other 32 agreements, we need to look within Kosovo, and not in Brussels, and make some sort of evaluation of what is working in practice and what is not working in practice. Then, we have to see what we can do further as institutions of Kosovo to make them work in practice so that the citizens can actually benefit from these agreements, especially those who provide for free movement of citizens and goods.

Serbia wants to reopen some of these agreements, such as the one on energy. I believe that reopening them might be dangerous in terms of further concessions. When it comes to this, we should count on the EU as the intermediary of this process that they work on asking the parties to implement the agreements rather than try to renegotiate them. Even when we signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement, with the participation of the EU, for some reason, nothing has been done further to implement those agreements.

EWB: Last week you stated that the unification of Kosovo and Albania is not a realistic option. Is there any support for this idea in Kosovo?

Osmani: Speaking of geopolitics and international relations as they are right now, what determines today the strength of the country is not necessarily how big it is geographically, if it has a few thousands of people more or less, but it is the functionality, its economy, the rule of law, and whether it was successful in areas of innovation what we see in Asia and some former USSR countries: they are tiny, but they have an important vote. It is a question whether it is better to have 2 votes in international organizations than just one. 

I believe the best solution for Kosovo and Albania that we create sisterly relations and move towards the EU. Once we join, there would be no borders anyways. Let me conclude by saying this: I visited the Kosovo hospitals these days with family members and you have to go there to see the public healthcare system and when you go there, you regret every single minute you spend on talking on these topics and we should discuss how to fix our health and education system and practically we have no time for this topic. There are so many more important and urgent topics for this government to deal with over the next 4 years.

EWB: Kosovo has also opposed mini-Schengen. However, the US embassy in Germany has recently published a statement in which they express the opinion that Kosovo should be a part of this regional initiative. 

Osmani: The reason why our partners say that is because they have not heard from us, perhaps that is our fault as well. We will sit down with each and every country that is a strong and genuine ally of Kosovo and discuss why we think this is a bad idea from an economic, security and strategic point of view. 

We are not against the regional economic area, which had been achieved and signed by all six Western Balkan countries under the auspices of Chancellor Merkel, president Macron and many other important representatives from the EU institutions and member states, including, I think, at the time, a representative of the United States.

EWB: In an interview with Radio Free Europe in October, you said that there should be an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo with the blessing of the USA. However, according to statements by Kurti, we can see that there are differing views: America says negotiations should be accelerated, Kurti thinks there is no reason to rush; America thinks Kosovo needs to be covered by mini-Schengen, Kurti says that mini-Schengen is an idea unacceptable to Kosovo until reciprocity is established with Serbia. Are there concerns Kurti’s policies could hurt Kosovo-US relations?

Osmani: I do not see any clashes in Kosovo-US relations at this point. It is just an issue of how you see it, but of course the US are interested in having both parties go back to Brussels and continuing the dialogue as fast as possible. When it comes to accelerating the negotiations, so far we have not been approached by anyone in the US asking for a quick fix. The US understands that as much as it is important to achieve the final agreement, it is equally as important, if not even more, to have an agreement that is implementable in practice. 

As Kosovo, we are very interested that this final agreement is something that respects Kosovo sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also its functionality as a country. At the same time, it is the one that produces peace and stability in the region and does not create any dangerous precedent for the future for our region and beyond. 

It has to be an enduring agreement, one that is truly final and no just semi-final and one that will be implemented, because we saw the practice of the 33 agreements in Brussels, most of which have not been implemented by Serbia. We do not want to have a dialogue with Serbia to convince them to sign, and then another dialogue to convince them to implement what they have signed. 

EWB: What is your position on the inclusion of the Serb List in the new ruling coalition in Kosovo?

Osmani: There is a constitutional provision that requires there should be at least one minister from the Serb community, which would need to get at least 50 percent of the votes of Serb seats in the parliament. My opinion is, that if you give them the minister, why not get their votes. What is extremely important is that we will not have a government that is dependent on the Serb List. We will absolutely not allow that to happen. 

The question is whether we really want them to be a rough opposition or be in the parliament when we vote for the law on cultural heritage, or the law on higher education or local elections which are considered the laws of vital interest in our constitution, and they require the votes of the minority community in order to enter into force. We need to take into account that our Constitution has given them the right to veto some extremely important processes legislations in Kosovo for which we would need them on board. 

I think we need to create a sort of relation with the Serb List where they understand that the rights of the Serb community living in Kosovo are more important than what Vučić tells them because they have been predicted to protect the interest of the citizens and they should sit down with everyone in the parliament and see what is the best way to adopt this law. We have to find a way to reform it in the best way so all communities can benefit for it, instead of just boycotting the parliament. 

We have already seen the boycott scenario and we know that in such case we can still move forward with most of the issues. Under Haradinaj, when the Serb List was a part of the coalition, they were still boycotting most of the time. This shows that they are following the wrong logic of completely ignoring the interests of the Serbian community in Kosovo, while just doing their deals with Vucic in Belgrade. It shows that neither Vucic nor them really care about the Serbs living in Kosovo. 

EWB: The Council of Europe recently voted on the Special Rapporteur on Kosovo, one of the candidates was Russian MP Alexei Kondratyev, who was expelled from Kosovo in 2001. In the end, the German candidate Peter Bayer was selected. How do you look at the fact that a Russian politician, a persona non-grata in Kosovo, was a candidate for this position? 

Osmani: It was obviously a well-planned thought of Serbia, Russia, and their other partners that are only looking at destabilizing this part of the world. The fact he was a part of KFOR does not make him a good candidate for this job or any job to be very frank and I think it was an insult for the Council of Europe to move on with such a candidate because it is an organization that mainly deals with the protection of human rights. It is a pity that Russia is back in the Council. 

However, I also think we are very fortunate to have Peter Bayer, who knows the region very well. Electing Kondratyev would have created a big hurdle in the relations between Kosovo and CoE. The fact he is a persona non grata in Kosovo means he would not be able to come to Kosovo, so all that he would have is a piece of paper and a mandate he would not be able to implement.

I also think that the previous governments have not dealt with Russian influence enough. Russia is extremely active in the entire Balkans and it represents a security threat for the entire region, including Serbia. The sooner Serbs understand this, the better for the entire region. This is why I believe in the next government we need to adopt a new security strategy within the national security council and make sure we adopt new measures on dealing with Russian influence and undertake preventive measures before something dangerous happens.  

Excavations into suspected mass grave in Pristina to continue on Friday (RFE)

The news website reports that Kosovo authorities have stopped excavations into a suspected mass grave at the Pristina University complex. Kushtrim Gara from the Kosovo Government’s Committee for Missing Persons told Radio Free Europe that excavations would resume on Friday. The Kosovo Police – the war crimes unit – together with the Prosecution and the Forensics Institute, did not find any mortal remains after two days of excavations. The search at the site was launched after the authorities received information from some citizens that there could be a mass grave in the complex from the 1999 conflict.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

The tragedy offers hope after all, which is shown on a single photo (B92, Tanjug, AP, Balkan Insight)

There is less and less hope that rescuers will find someone alive, two days after the earthquake in which, according to the latest data, 40 people were killed

Albanian Prime Minister Eddie Rama announced today that 40 people have been killed since the bodies of six were found in Tuman, northwest of the country and two more in Durres, 33 kilometers west of Tirana, as the AP reports.

More than 650 people were injured in an earthquake reaching 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale. Authorities said a rescue operation in Tumane has ended and it is believed that no more people are buried beneath the rubble of the collapsed buildings.

The rescue operation in Durres has continued.

See at: https://bit.ly/2OrfNbu

Croatian MEP Picula appointed as EP rapporteur for Western Balkans (Hina, N1)

Croatian MEP Tonino Picula has been appointed EP rapporteur for Western Balkans ahead of a summit in Zagreb in May 2020.

His role will be to prepare recommendations to the Parliament, Council and Commission regarding the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania as well as providing new impetus to the enlargement process, Picula’s office reported on Wednesday.

One of the main topics and challenges that Picula will be involved with in the report is reaching a consensus in the Council regarding the enlargement process to countries in the Western Balkans, his office said in a press release, adding that the report is also aimed at analysing and responding to new proposed reforms for the enlargement reform process.

“Reform debates must not stop the process. Countries need to be assessed individually based on individual merits and achievements. Montenegro is the forerunner in that process and I expect that the achieved results and invested efforts to be recognised and that pre-accession negotiations be closed during this term,” Picula concluded.

“I am exceptionally honoured with this new role as rapporteur for recommendations on the Western Balkans ahead of the coming summit in Zagreb…I will offer concrete recommendations that will enable blockades to be removed and to finally open negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania in Zagreb already,” Picula said.

“By making a mistake, French President Emmanuel Macron, who blocked the process of opening negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, in fact succeeded in something he did not plan – he returned the issue of enlargement into the focus of being debated at the European level,” added Picula.

See at: https://bit.ly/2XYvSZp

Vucic intensifies relations with Russia, US Defence Ministry says (RFE, N1)

Serbia is among the Western Balkans countries with the most indulgent environment for the Russian influence, the US Defence Ministry said in its May report which Radio Free Europe (RFE) had access to.

The document added that before 2012, when Aleksandar Vucic and his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) came to power, the bilateral military relations between Belgrade and Moscow were at a substantially lower level.

The report analysed Russia’s links to Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia.

“After 2012, SNS increased military cooperation with Russia,” the document said, adding it resulted in the November 2013 strategic partnership agreement.

According to the paper, Serbia is the only Western Balkans state that has signed contracts with Russia in the security area.

Serbia is also the only country which participates in joint military exercises with Russia at least twice a year since 2014, it adds, and the only state with cooperation in the intelligence area with Russia.

The report also says Russia starts showing greater interest for increased military cooperation with Serbia to confront the international isolation following the 2014 annexation of the Crimea.

“Later that year, the first joint military exercise ‘Srem 2017′ was held, including over 400 airmen taking part. After that, the Army of Serbia (VS) participated for the first at the tanks’ exercise during International Military Games in Russia. The participation continued in following years,” the document noted.

It mentioned Russian military donations to Serbia as well.

“Some open sources linked the visit (to Serbia) by Nikolai Patrushev, Russian Security Council’s Secretary, in October 2016 with the deportation from Serbia of two Russian spies suspected of participating in an attempted coup d ‘état in Montenegro,” the report said.

It added that “the Director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergey Naryshkin and Vucic agreed in the meeting in April 2018 to continue the cooperation and activities in the areas of security and intelligence services.”

The document also analyses the relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia, which, it says, are complicated by ethnic and political tensions in the country.

“There is evidence that Russia supports the separatist movement of the Bosnian Serbs led by Milorad Dodik. Russian support is motivated by a wish to prevent the country from joining NATO and the European Union,” the paper said.

The document added that Kosovo was not cooperating with Russia in security issues.

“Russia does not recognise Kosovo as a sovereign state and supports Serbia’s refusal to recognise its independence. Kosovo’s initiative to develop a sustainable military system and wish to sign an action plan for NATO membership (MAP) limit Russia’s interference into Kosovo’s internal affairs,” the report said.

Regarding North Macedonia’s defence policy, the document notes its future NATO membership leads the country primarily.

“North Macedonia’s aim to join NATO has empowered its resistance to Russian interference and has avoided taking part in the activities linking it to Russia in the security area,” the US Defence Ministry report said as quoted by RFE.        

See at: https://bit.ly/2pWNBUw

Joseph: West to reconsider relations with Vucic after Pentagon report (VoA, N1, RTS)

The report by the US Department of Defence about the intensified cooperation with Russia since President Aleksandar Vucic and his Serbian Progressive Party came to power in 2012 proved what was suspected for some time and showed that the West’s attitude toward Serbia’s President should change, Edward Joseph, a lecturer at the John Hopkins University in Washington DC told the Voice of America (VOA).

Primarily due to Belgrade – Moscow cooperation in intelligence matters, Joseph said.

Radio Free Europe (RFE) had access to the Pentagon report from May this year, which described Serbia as the most indulgent environment for the Russian influence over the Western Balkans.

The Pentagon reports says, among other things, that Serbia was the only regional country which purchased Russian weapons worth over a million Dollars since 2012, including MIG-29 jet fighters and helicopters.

“The reasons are clear, and that relationship is symbiotic. The key issues in the report, though we haven’t seen the original, are already known: we know about the MIG-29 and other forms of cooperation. But the fact it has been officially reported is important and suggests that the relations are beneficial for both Serbia and Russia,” Joseph said.

He added that the report also challenged “President Aleksandar Vucic’s sincerity in saying he is interested in the European Union membership. How can he be leading such a policy? It should also be said that Serbia has recently signed a trade agreement with the Euro-Asian Union sponsored by Russia. Though a bit reluctantly, Serbia signed the agreement.”

“This report is a warning to the diplomats who talk to Vucic to be careful about his cooperation with Russia since we now know that the US is aware of how deep and widespread that cooperation is,” Joseph added.

The Pentagon report also pointed out the cooperation between Moscow and Belgrade’s intelligence services, adding Serbia was the only country covered by the document which cooperated with Russia in that area.

“That’s probably the most interesting single element in this report and should not be ignored and say that Vucic only balances in relationships. The cooperation between the intelligence services goes beyond that. Once you enter the spying zone and collaboration in that field, it is incompatible with the West and the EU. The diplomats should not ignore that. However, that’s not a huge surprise since there are doubts that the humanitarian centre in ( Serbia’s southern city) Nis, in fact, is used for collecting intelligence data. But, since we now have the official confirmation about the intelligence cooperation, it should be a crossroad in the international community relations with Belgarde,” Joseph said.

“The talks with President Vucic must be more open, and he should not be begged any longer to find a solution to Kosovo’s issue and to be somehow compensated for that. No one should think about compensating the leader who has such broad cooperation with an enemy as Moscow is and who works against his people and eliminates the freedoms they are entitled to,” Joshep said.”

Commenting on the affair involving a Russian spy and Serbia’s retired army officer, Joseph said the most logical explanation was that the event was Serbia’s Government deliberate move, maybe in cooperation with Russia, to divert the attention from a more serious scandal,” with Serbia’s Interior Minister and his father and dubious arms trade deals. 

See at: https://bit.ly/2Y0wkGD

SNS, Kosovo Serb List officials appointed to University, faculties’ councils (Insajder, N1)

Aleksandar Martinovic, the chief of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Deputy Club, added another ‘title’ to his portfolio – the Government appointed him to the Council of Pristina University currently based in northern Mitrovica, the Insajder reported on Wednesday.

Besides him, ten officials of the Belgrade-supported Serb List, a Kosovo Serbs’ political party, including Goran Rakic, Northern Mitrovica Mayor, and two former ministers of Kosovo’s Government from the Serb community, were also appointed members to the University and several faculties’ councils, the independent Insajder production website said.

Serbia’s Education Minister Mladen Sarcevic said all appointments were legal.

Apart from his political duty, Martinovic is a professor at the Law School in the northern city of Novi Sad, a professor at the High Medical School in the central town of Cuprija and is reported to have been allowed to teach at the Medical Sciences Faculty in the central city of Kragujevac.

The members of Pristina University have the same status as those in Serbia and are paid from Serbia’s budget and have a ‘Kosovo bonus.’

Insajder said there are no public data about how much money was allocated for that bonus, but President Aleksandar Vucic said in 2018 it was 71 million Euros per year.      

See at: https://bit.ly/34qTF6I

Rosic’s father: Marko subjected to police torture (Tanjug, B92, Politika)

Nedeljko Rosic, father of Marko Rosic suspected by Pristina prosecution of the involvement in the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, refuted information that an indictment against his son and Nedeljko Spasojevic had been raised, Tanjug news agency reports.

Nedeljko also claims that the Kosovo police tortures his son, who is staying in a prison in Podujevo. In a statement to Belgrade-based Politika newspaper he said that his son is kept in prison without legal grounds, given that the indictment was not raised within the legal deadline of one year.

“The indictments, against my son who is for more than a year subjected to the physical and psychological torture in a casemate in Podujevo, but also against Nedeljko Spasojevic, have not been raised, and the lawyer representing my son has told me this. My son was basically kidnapped, because in line with the law, the prosecutor must state the reason for holding him in prison, and the judge in the case also had to provide a response to it,” Rosic said.

He added, detention of Rosic and Spasojevic had been extended until December 23, and it was done contrary to the law, assessing that “obviously the judge and prosecutor work in collusion.”

Rosic also said representatives of the international community turn deaf ear to the drastic violations of the law and do not react, although he has addressed them in writing on several occasions.

Nedeljko Rosic further claims that his son Marko is subjected to the torture, adding his wife visited Marko a month ago and he was completely physically and mentally broken.

“The terror by the Kosovo police started on the morning when he got arrested, and beating up continued in the prison in Podujevo, where they tried to force him to admit the guilt and accuse the state of Serbia for the murder of Oliver Ivanovic. When he did not accept the blackmail, he was transferred to the prison in Gnjilane, where a prison guard, a Turk, slammed him with a metal door, turned off the hot water during the winter, and we were also told that our son wanted to hang himself. We fear for this life, because he is completely broken,” Nedeljko said, Serbian media report.

He also claims that during the last visit to his son, he saw his head being blue from strokes, adding he cannot expand his hands property not even after one year, since the nerves in his hands when he was handcuffed had not recovered.

Marko Rosic, Nedeljko Spasojevic and Dragisa Markovic were arrested on November 23, last year in the action of the Kosovo special police unit ROSU. Markovic was in the meantime released from detention.

Oliver Ivanovic, leader of the Civic Initiative Freedom, Democracy, Justice was murdered on January 16, last year in front of his party premises, Serbian media recalled.

 

 

Development/Humanitarian

 

Single block buildings’ residents continue protest, municipal authorities say requests for priority allocation of apartments ‘unfounded’ (KoSSev)

Residents of the two buildings known as single block settlements protested on Tuesday for the third time, determined to resolve their housing issues, KoSSev portal reports. “We do not want reparations, we request new apartments,” became the only request of around 60 people who for many years, based on the residential rights, live in those buildings in Filip Visnjic Street in Mitrovica North. The buildings are the property of Trepca company, and the roof as well as the third floor of one of the buildings was caught on fire three years ago, the portal recalls.

The residents of that building were evacuated, and in the meanwhile 26 of them have returned, claiming they had no other place to stay. The municipality of Mitrovica North with the funds provided by the Office for Kosovo and Metohija repaired the roof, while the responsibility for other reparations as the portal said they claim to be on the owner of the building, Trepca company.

And while the residents blame the local authorities of avoiding meeting them and solve the problem, the Interim Council of Mitrovica North claims otherwise. It said it meets residents regularly and paid monthly rent for the apartments to some of them as well.

Commenting on the requests that newly built apartments are allocated to these residents, the Interim Council said the request for priority allocation of apartments “is unfounded” adding if residents think they meet criteria, they should apply for those apartments.

Both sides, however, agree on one thing, the buildings are old and living conditions are difficult.

“This building is very old, built right after WWII and dedicated to so-called single persons to live there, and at that time it fulfilled requests and standards. Today, these standards are obsolete, and one could say difficult (for example common bathroom) and these residents belong to the category of socials cases, often entire families live there,” local authorities told KoSSev portal.

 

 

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