- AKJ calls for justice on murdered and missing journalists in Kosovo (Most monitored broadcasters, Klan Kosova)
- Mustafa: Justice hasn’t done anything to shed light on murdered journalists (KTV)
- Freedom of speech is seen as a pillar of democracy in the international conference (Klan Kosova)
- Kosnett: Vetevendosje and LDK seem committed to building a functional coalition (GazetaExpress)
- VV and LDK say leaders’ meetings will resume soon, without telling when (KTV)
- Haziri: There is no conditioning for President’s post, but it is a pledge (RTKLive)
- Current pace of government negotiations may lead Kosovo to crisis (KTV)
- Serbian president denies Kosovo massacre (GazetaExpress)
- Haradinaj: Serbia institutionally retains criminal mentality (KTV)
- SL: We are leaving the institutions if Todosijevic’s verdict is upheld (Kossev)
- Only 17 per cent of women inherit property from their families (KTV)
AKJ calls for justice on murdered and missing journalists in Kosovo
(Most monitored broadcasters, Klan Kosova)
The Association of Kosovo Journalists (AKJ) has called for justice on all murdered and missing journalists in Kosovo during the period 1998-2005.
At the conference, organised by AKJ in cooperation with the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, which was also attended by family members of murdered journalists, it was said that lack of justice in those cases represents a black spot for institutions of both countries, Kosovo and Serbia, Klan Kosova reported.
Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo Jan Braathu said that cases of the missing, the murdered, and journalists are not ethnic matters.
“This is not an ethnic issue related to Serbs and Albanians; it is about people, civilians, journalists who were doing their jobs. We must speak about those people. They are not statistics, they are somebody’s fathers, brothers, we owe this to their families,” he said.
He added that impunity regarding the crimes committed against journalists has an impact on freedom of reporting, and it will open the door to similar attacks in the future. He called on prosecutors and judicial authorities to collaborate closely in shedding light on the 15 journalists.
Chairperson of AKJ Gentiana Begolli-Pustina said that journalists would not cease seeking justice for their murdered colleagues, and called for establishment of a special fund that would support investigations of journalists, not only to contribute in shedding light on their colleagues, but also as a sign of memory for their work.
“I said yesterday in Gracanica/Gracanicë, and I will say it today also: to me as a mother of two children, as a journalist, as a representative of the Kosovo journalists, it does not matter at all what is ethnicity of the murderer, what his/her religion could be, what functions might those who ordered the murders hold. What matters to me is to see them where they belong, together with other criminals. We all expect the same thing, both you family members, and we journalists,” Begolli-Pustina added.
Representative of Serb journalists in Kosovo Budimir Nicic also called for shedding light on those cases.
”The Resolution on 15 murdered journalists in Kosovo was adopted last year; however, the Commission has not been established yet. We call for the truth to be shed, the truth about sufferings of our colleagues, regardless of their nationality, and for culprits to be prosecuted and punished,” Nicic said.
Four journalists are reported as missing, and 11 murdered. Today (Thursday) their family members also called for justice on them.
Beriane Mustafa, daughter of late journalist Xhemajl Mustafa, said that for them as family members it is important to know who murdered their loved ones and how. According to her, speaking about murdering of journalists and seeking justice for them is not only a moral obligation, but also a fundamental right.
”Let it be any verdict by the justice institutions. They will not resurrect, but it will be important for us. For me as daughter of Xhemajl Mustafa, at least one night when we go to bed and close our eyes, we will be spiritually peaceful because those who ordered the murders are behind, in prison, rather than every morning, everybody of us waking up with a question mark: who did it and how?” she said.
Dijar Popova, son of the late Rilindja journalist Shefki Popova, said that the institutions have failed in shedding light on those cases.
”We are speaking 18 years after the case; institutions have failed in this case, from EULEX, UNMIK. We hopelessly wander to all the institutions that have continuously shut their doors against us, telling us that investigations were going on. We cannot comprehend how it is possible that for 18 years, not even a single case has been revealed,” he said.
The wife of journalist Afrim Maliqi, Sevdije Maliqi, revealed some touching moments from the time her husband was murdered by Serbian forces on December 3, 1999. Maliqi said that she was never invited by any justice institution to speak regarding the case of her late husband.
“On the anniversary of his death, he also had his birthday. His writings were bombastic to someone and were not tolerated. He was always followed. Even when we were together, we were followed by suspicious people. Life at the time with journalists, as we had it, has not been easy,” she said.
Serbian journalists were also present at the conference. Jelena Petkovic, who is preparing to publish a book about the murders of our journalistic colleagues, and the journalist Ivana Petrovic, who shared memories of her murdered Serbian colleagues, also had a chance to speak, Klan Kosova reported.
Journalist Serbeze Haxhiaj, Die Morina, Mimoza Lakna and journalist Zekirja Shabani were other panel members who spoke about the fate of journalists murdered before, during and after the war.
The daughters of murdered journalist Haki Braha, Bardh and Nora Braha, along with relatives of murdered journalist Bardhyl Ajeti, Nebih Ajeti, were also present at the conference.
The Secretary General of the European Federation of Journalists, Ricardo Gutiérrez, was also present at the conference.
Mustafa: Justice hasn’t done anything to shed light on murdered journalists
Journalist Beriane Mustafa said that justice in Kosovo has continuously kept silent concerning murdering and kidnapping of journalists in Kosovo.
She says that public pressure is the only way in order for murderers of journalists to be brought to justice.
In KTV’s Express Intervista, Mustafa said that in the last year’s one can easily speak about murders in Kosovo, having in mind that, according to her, there had been a period, which was characterised by collective silence, and this matter was not spoken up.
“Unfortunately, justice continues keeping silent even to this day. Our conference today was not attended by anybody from the State Prosecution Office. This shows how much they neglect those (murders). Whether they neglect them because of their bargaining with politicians or because of fear, that is a matter that opens other discussions,” she said.
According to her, the justice system has hardly nor not at all dealt with murdering of journalists.
Mustafa says that her profession makes her more outspoken in this respect.
She believes that a judiciary like the Kosovo one is not capable of bringing to justice those who ordered murdering of journalists.
“It has been easier for me to reach people. We have not received any promise from justice institutions, except what has been made public. In 2013, there was an activation in terms of public statements, but not in terms of the work done. Then Aleksandër Lumezi said that they were ready, and that murderers of Xhemajl Mustafa are known, but nothing has been done ever since,” she said.
Mustafa thinks that it is not only one individual that should be held responsible, underlining that the whole justice system in Kosovo has been captured.
Speaking about the murder of her father Xhemajl Mustafa, she said that at the time when he was murdered, UNMIK was in power, and she wondered whether evidence were collected then.
She added that both locals and internationals are reluctant to establish justice.
Mustafa highlighted that for the sake of stability or for the sake of some bargaining that internationals might have done with locals, no more efforts were made for shedding light on the truth.
“Political opponents stand behind it, because they considered Xhemajl Mustafa a threat. Otherwise, why LDK was not more outspoken for shedding light on the truth about the murder?” Mustafa emphasised.
Mustafa stated that her father’s case has been transferred to the Special Court, and added that if they are willing, they will find who the murderers were.
She believes that if Specialist Chambers will not shed light on the truth, then the family members do not know where to address the case.
“In my view as a journalist, I do not know what the Specialist Chambers and international factors should wait for in shedding light on those cases. Once and forever, we want to know the reasons why those people were murdered, and who did it,” Mustafa said.
Remembering the time when her father was alive, Mustafa says that he never shared his work concerns with her family.
She says that no one had ever directly threatened her father, and they are not aware if anyone had threatened him.
From 1998 until present, 11 journalists have been murdered, and four others disappeared.
Freedom of speech is seen as a pillar of democracy in the international conference
Freedom of speech is essential to a democratic society. This is how it was assessed at the international conference on the topic of “Freedom of Speech and Constitutional Jurisprudence in the Western Balkans.”
Majlinda Sinani, Deputy Ombudsperson, said that freedom of speech implies freedom of media and access to public documents.
She even requested more safety and better conditions for the media and other sectors.
On the other hand, Norwegian Ambassador to Kosovo Jens Erik Grøndahl said that challenges are not unique only for Kosovo, but they are also present at the global level.
However, the Constitutional Court President Arta Hajrizi-Rama considers that the institutions she heads has set standards when it comes to communication with the media and the public.
“After its establishment in 2009, the Constitutional Court of Kosovo very quickly realised the impact and the role that media have in its relation with the public. Therefore, in the very first strategic plan the Court, among others, envisaged formation of the Office of Information and Communication. The Court has already set a deadline of maximum 24 hours for responses to media questions.
Head of the highest judicial institution in the country, considered freedom of speech as extremely important.
“Freedom of speech cannot be limited to only one occupation, or to a limited number of people, and not only in the sphere of media freedom. It is rather a general category, being one of the most valuable fundamental human rights,” Rama stated.
Kosnett: Vetevendosje and LDK seem committed to building a functional coalition
US Ambassador to Kosovo, Philip Kosnett, in an exclusive interview with Gazeta Express said he believes that the Democratic League of Kosovo and Vetevendosje are committed to building a functional coalition
“I think it is clear that on 6 October the people of Kosovo voted for change,” Kosnett said.
The US Ambassador urged Vetevendosje leader and candidate for prime minister, Albin Kurti, and others to commit in fighting corruption.
“Message for Mr. Kurti and others is to fight corruption, to create an efficient government, and focus on the needs of people,” Kosnett said.
Ambassador Kosnett said that Kurti has changed.
“He is very intelligent and mature,” Kosnett commented.
“I think Mr. Kurti knows very well the role an opposition leader plays to challenge ideas and to create politics is different to the role he plays as a prime minister of the state,” Kosnett said.
“He is very intelligent and mature. He made it clear that the Vetevendosje has gave up political violence. It is a new party, it is a new era. I am looking forward working with him, as I have worked and cooperated with other political leaders in this country,” Kosnett said.
He also said that the Srpska List, a political entity representing Serbian community, is a reality and he expects Kurti to have a constructive approach towards Srpska List, who won all ten seats reserved for Serbian community in Kosovo Parliament.
“I think that Srpska List is a political reality,” Kosnett said.
“I strongly believe that Mr. Kurti understands well the Constitution of Kosovo. He understands the role that parties representing minorities play. And he said many times that he wants to be prime minister of all citizens of Kosovo. I think that he should talk more with Serb politicians in Kosovo, including Srpska List,” Kosnett said.
US Ambassador urged resumption of dialogue with Serbia as soon as new Government of Kosovo is formed.
“We want the dialogue process produce a sustainable agreement, accepted by both nations and states, not only by political leaders, but an agreement acceptable to citizens of both countries,” Kosnett said.
He said a potential agreement is possible during 2020 adding that the US administration is engaged to support this process.
“I think delays in dialogue were not in Kosovo’s benefit. Has not helped the country economically. We have the problem of withdrawal of recognitions of Kosovo. Kosovo is not going in the right direction. And I think that improvement of relations with Serbia and other neighbours would create conditions for prosperity and opportunity for all people of Kosovo,” Ambassador Kosnett told Gazeta Express.
Ambassador Kosnett commented also on the land swap idea between Kosovo and Serbia. He said that he never saw a formal proposal for a comprehensive agreement or land swap.
“Let me remind to your readers that the US position on territories was that we do not want to stop negotiators from both sides, from Kosovo and Serbia, from discussing on different issues. We have never actively pushed for some border changes,” Kosnett said.
He reiterated that every comprehensive agreement should be acceptable to people and not only political leaders. “It is obvious that the land swap idea is not supported in Kosovo,” he said.
VV and LDK say leaders’ meetings will resume soon, without telling when
The Vetëvendosje leader Albin Kurti and the LDK leader Isa Mustafa will soon resume their meetings for reaching a governing coalition.
Vetëvendosje’s elected MP Albulena Haxhiu and LDK’s Vjosa Osmani confirmed that discussions between the two parties would resume, but they did not tell the date when the meeting will take place.
According to Haxhiu, in their discussions about division of responsibilities, they did not agree about the matter of President, and she added that the President should not be a political party person.
On the other hand, Vjosa Osmani called on both parties to engage in creating a cooperative spirit, adding that Vetëvendosje should stop its, what she called, lynching campaigns.
Haziri: There is no conditioning for President’s post, but it is a pledge
LDK deputy chairman Lutfi Haziri stated that they are agreeing to reach a coalition with Vetëvendosje, while acknowledging that the issue of electing the President is a pledge that must be made between the coalition partners.
“We are not prejudging about the President’s post. We are not saying that the leader of Vetëvendosje will be the President. We have never talked about a name for the President. Isa Mustafa has said it is an honour for him to end his political career as a Prime Minister or a President, especially as a President. Vetëvendosje will be convinced that there will be no stable government unless all issues of interest to this country are clarified,” Haziri told Klan Kosova.
He also asked ‘why should we make compromises’, and added that the first party should be more generous, assessing that “the big one should make compromises”.
“We are close to concluding the agreement. The principles of division of responsibilities have ended, now only remains to divide responsibilities in institutions and the names of new ministers, so it is the final step that will define everything. We’re in the formula, but I believe it’s a matter of days,” he said.
However, regarding organization of new elections in case of failure of the coalition, Haziri said that “if you have created great expectations among the citizens, then this can turn into a great disappointment”.
“LDK does not deal with political smuggling. We are not clay that is broken and reshaped. LDK has supported this coalition politically; otherwise, we refuse to become a solution of different formulas. There is no conditioning for President’s post, but it is a pledge that must be made,” he said.
In the meantime, in an interview with Dukagjini TV, Haziri said that if Vetëvendosje does not accept to solve the President’s issue now, LDK will go to opposition.
Current pace of government negotiations may lead Kosovo to crisis
Failure to reaching an agreement between Vetëvendosje and LDK, might postpone formation of new institutions to next year.
Meetings between the two parties have been postponed to indefinite time, following disagreements about division of posts, namely the post of the President.
Professor Mazllum Baraliu says there is the danger that the discussions between Vetëvendosje and LDK will share the destiny with the discussions of VLAN that caused six-month long institutional vacuum.
Officials of the Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI) explained the procedures for forming of the Assembly and voting of the new government.
According to Agnesa Haxhiu of KDI, it is possible that the Assembly Speaker is not elected in the first session, where new MPs are expected to swear in.
After the election certification, which happened last week, President Hashim Thaçi shall, within 30 days, call the constituting session of the Kosovo Assembly.
Constituting of the Assembly is followed by voting of the government cabinet.
Serbian president denies Kosovo massacre
Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic reacted on Thursday after the Basic Court in Pristina sentenced a former Serb minister in Kosovo Government to two years in prison for inciting ethnic hatred when he denied a massacre of Kosovo Albanian civilians in Recak in 1999.
Vucic said conviction of former Kosovo minister of Local Government Administration, Ivan Todosijevic, was “terrible” and reiterated the same statement Todosijevic said in March 2019 that the Recak massacre was “fabricated.”
“All members of the Srpska List will reiterate the same thing, and I will reiterate now – the crime in Recak was fabricated, when everything was falsified by the world falsifier, thief and vagabond called William Walker,” said Vucic referring to former head of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission during the war in Kosovo. Walker after visiting the village Recak and saw the massacred bodies declared that this was “a crime against humanity”.
The Recak massacre, in which 45 Kosovo Albanian civilians were killed by Serbian forces in January 1999, prompted NATO’s intervention to stop the war and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Vucic during Kosovo war was minister of Information in the Government of ex-president Slobodan Milosevic who died in The Hague in 2006 while on trial for war crimes.
Haradinaj: Serbia institutionally retains criminal mentality
Acting Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said that Serbia, even institutionally, shamelessly retains the criminal mind-set inherited from Milosevic’s era.
According to him, Vucic’s pathological hatred against Albanians is proved by his recent statement, saying that the Reçak massacre, which shocked the whole world in 1999, was fabricated.
Haradinaj wrote on Facebook that the Republic of Kosovo is a multi-ethnic society composed of Albanians and other communities, and hatred against any ethnicity is legally punishable.
“It is regretful how Serbia, which is considered a favourite country by the EU, keeps fostering ethnic hatred against Albanians and denying its genocidal crimes, thus contaminating their future and reducing chances for peace and reconciliation in the region,” Haradinaj posted on Facebook.
President of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi also reacted to Vucic’s statement through a post on Twitter:
“I see officials from Serbia denying some of the worst crimes against civilians that happened in Europe, confirmed by ICTY, like Reçak. Serbian genocidal policies cannot be defended. They must be denounced. Peace, reconciliation, justice cannot be built based on denying crimes.”
SL: We are leaving the institutions if Todosijevic’s verdict is upheld
Srpska Lista representatives announced today that they would leave Kosovo institutions – at a local, central and other levels, if a member of the Srpska Lista presidency, Ivan Todosijevic’s verdict of two years in prison over a verbal offense remains in force.
“Serbs have no right to tell the truth and to fight for their people” – SL chief, Goran Rakic said, Radio Kontakt Plus reported.
The verdict deprived Serbs of their right to speech, freedom of opinion, the right to defend the Serb people in Kosovo, that is, the Serbs’ right to tell the truth, claimed this Kosovo official.
He emphasised if the verdict remains in force and is upheld at a higher level, he would invite all Kosovo Serb representatives to leave their posts in the judiciary, police, prosecution and local governments.
„We will not allow this case to be left as an ad acta because – I am sending a message to Pristina and to the international community now – we are all Ivan Todosijevic and we will continue to tell the truth, because he said nothing but the simple and bare truth,“ Rakic said at an extraordinary press conference today.
SL Vice-President, Igor Simic said this is the first time that anyone has been convicted of this crime in the Kosovo justice system. He added that they are waiting for the reaction of the international representatives.
He also emphasized they support the unanimous decision of the SL leadership that, if this verdict remains as such, they will leave all posts and institutions at a local, central and other levels. According to him, the question arises as to why “we should lend a hand of peace and cooperation at the moment when we have this kind of legal violence against legitimate representatives of the Serb people coming from the other side.“
Simic stressed that they see the Todosijevic judgment as “unlawful political and institutional pressure” on Kosovo Serb political representatives – not because of what he said, but “because of what he and SL are doing for the survival of Serbs in the region”.
If this verdict remains, Simic said, the question arises whether the Kosovo judiciary will also pass judgment to Finnish pathologists who distanced themselves in the Racak incident report, as well as all those journalists, including some German newsrooms, who wrote about this case and questioned the information provided by the Kosovo judicial authorities – claimed this Srpska Lista official.
„As SL, we try to be part of the solution, not the problem, but everything that has been going on over the last few months confirms our fears that no one wants to see us as partners in the future, and that they want to eliminate anyone ready to fight for the interests of the Serb people by using false allegations,“ Simic emphasized.
Simic added that this is an opportunity for the international community to show how much they care about the rule of law, about building peace and mutual trust, but also about Serbs being part of the institutions working within the Kosovo system.
The SL also announced they would leave Kosovo institutions when the Head of the Kosovo Office, Marko Djuric, was arrested in North Mitrovica, and if the ASM (Association of Serb-majority Communities) was not formed – which did not happen.
Last year, following Pristina’s introduction of taxes on the import of products from central Serbia and Bosnia and Hercegovina, there was also the possibility of them leaving Kosovo institutions if the taxes were not abolished.
When asked if they would really leave the institutions this time, SL chief, Goran Rakic replied that they put the decision on hold at the suggestion of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, in order to “maintain peace and continue the dialogue” between Belgrade and Pristina. Rakic also added that this does not mean they will not make such a decision and form the ASM, if Belgrade and Pristina do not continue the dialogue as soon as possible.
„We will listen to Belgrade, we will make decisions together, but it cannot go on indefinitely. That is why I invite both Belgrade and Pristina and the international community to sit at the negotiating table because, without it, we face big problems on the field,” Rakic said.
The former Kosovo Minister of Local Government Administration, Ivan Todosijevic was sentenced to 2 years in prison in the Basic Court in Pristina today for his statement on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the NATO bombing at a ceremony in Zvecan. At the time, he said that the cause of NATO aggression in FR Yugoslavia „was the so-called humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo, the fictional Racak“.
The defense counsel announced that they would be filing an appeal to the Court of Appeals.
Only 17 per cent of women inherit property from their families
Arjeta Gashi is one of the few women in Kosovo who enjoy inherited property from their parents.
Like Arjeta, only 17.3 per cent of women in Kosovo enjoy participation to heritage. This was said at the conference ‘Empowering Women’s Equal Property Rights’.
Luljeta Demolli of the Kosovo Centre for Gender Studies said that the discriminatory norms and practices are the key obstacle for women in Kosovo not to enjoy property.
Legally, Kosovo is doing well in terms of the opportunity for women to inherit property, but according to the discussion participants, the laws are not enforced.
The conference was organised by the Kosovo Centre for Gender Studies, supported by Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation, and the Swedish Agency for Development and Cooperation (SIDA).