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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, December 23

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• Assembly session three days away, LDK insists on ‘balancing’ of posts (Zeri)
• LVV, LDK to make final efforts for an agreement (Koha)
• Veliu: No agreement until president’s post is defined (Express/Bota Sot)
• Hamiti: People with authoritarian mentality want absolute power (RTK)
• Albanian PM Rama defends Mini-Schengen in face of criticism from Kosovo (Koha)
• Palokaj: Yes to meetings with Serbian leaders, but with dignity (Koha)
• Basha: No Mini-Schengen without Serbia apologising to Kosovo (Kallxo)
• Meta: Serbia to stop campaigns against Kosovo’s integration (Zeri)
• Haradinaj justifies depleting Kosovo’s reserve fund (Klan Kosova)
• Gashi: 15 witnesses are being interviewed on Astrit Dehari’s case (media)
• Railways in Kosovo north under Serbia’s administration (media)

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  • Assembly session three days away, LDK insists on ‘balancing’ of posts (Zeri)
  • LVV, LDK to make final efforts for an agreement (Koha)
  • Veliu: No agreement until president’s post is defined (Express/Bota Sot)
  • Hamiti: People with authoritarian mentality want absolute power (RTK)
  • Albanian PM Rama defends Mini-Schengen in face of criticism from Kosovo (Koha)
  • Palokaj: Yes to meetings with Serbian leaders, but with dignity (Koha)
  • Basha: No Mini-Schengen without Serbia apologising to Kosovo (Kallxo)
  • Meta: Serbia to stop campaigns against Kosovo’s integration (Zeri)
  • Haradinaj justifies depleting Kosovo’s reserve fund (Klan Kosova)
  • Gashi: 15 witnesses are being interviewed on Astrit Dehari’s case (media)
  • Railways in Kosovo north under Serbia’s administration (media)

Assembly session three days away, LDK insists on ‘balancing’ of posts (Zeri)

The constitutive session of the Assembly is in three days but the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) have not yet bridged their differences over the post of Kosovo president, the paper writes on the front page.

LDK keeps insisting on “balancing” posts which according to the party translates into it getting the president’s post while LVV wants the president not to be part of the coalition agreement.

Senior LDK member, Muharrem Sfarca, told the paper that it is up to Vetevendosje to make efforts to conclude coalition agreement before the constitutive session of the Assembly. “Others I think will be resolved through compromise,” he said adding that he believed it was the exclusive right of the LDK to only present the candidate’s name when the election of Kosovo president approaches.

At the same time, LVV deputy leader Besnik Bislimi admitted that the coalition negotiations have stalled but he said this was because an “unreasonable” demand was put at the table. “However, I am very optimistic that this will be overcome with maturity and the country will very soon get its institutions,” he said.

LVV, LDK to make final efforts for an agreement (Koha)

The paper reports in its leading front-page story that three days before the constitutive session of the new Kosovo Assembly, the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) and Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) will make final efforts to reach a coalition agreement. So far none of the parties have given any signs of backing down from their positions surrounding the post of Kosovo President, with the LDK insisting that it should nominate its candidate when the time comes and that the Vetevendosje Movement should pledge its support. Vetevendosje representatives have said they expect LDK to move from its initial position in order to pave way to an eventual agreement. They however have not said if they will nominate a candidate for the post of Assembly President without reaching a coalition agreement first.

Veliu: No agreement until president’s post is defined (Express/Bota Sot)

Deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Agim Veliu said no coalition agreement with Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) will be possible for as long as the post of Kosovo president is not defined.

“It is everyone’s opinion and mood to now define all responsibilities we have with Vetevendosje in the coalition, now rather than later because anything that is left for later puts the future work of the coalition under threat,” Veliu said.

“It is not only the president’s post that is being discussed with Vetevendosje. The current coalition talks between LDK and LVV have only 57 votes. We have no information what Mr. Kurti has done in regard to votes from the Serb minority,” he said.

Hamiti: People with authoritarian mentality want absolute power (RTK)

Muhamet Hamiti, member of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) spoke about the discussions for formation of the governing coalition between Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) and LDK. “Mutual control of powers (checks and balances) enables democratic functioning of society and state. People with authoritarian mentality – communists in the first place – want absolute power. This sort of autocrats sees mutual control of powers as violation of their power. There are many examples of such mentality in Kosovo and Albania,” Hamiti said.

Albanian PM Rama defends Mini-Schengen in face of criticism from Kosovo (Koha)

The paper reports on page four that Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has defended the initiative for a Balkans Mini-Schengen by reminding Kosovo’s leaders about their frequent meetings with the Serbian side. “It is good that this is clear. It is good to understand that they have dined and had working lunches with the Serbian side and this is very good. This does not mean they have given up on independence, this does not mean that they have given up on all the legitimate claims about the past, but it does mean that they sat there because we live in an interconnected world and Kosovo is a product of the war of its people but above all it is a product of the war with bombs by the United States and many of the biggest countries of the European Union,” Rama is quoted as saying.

Palokaj: Yes to meetings with Serbian leaders, but with dignity (Koha)

Augustin Palokaj, the paper’s correspondent based in Brussels, argues in an opinion piece that “state leaders in Pristina and Tirana should not hesitate to meet their counterparts from Serbia, whomever they may be. Such meetings took place even during the time of war. As interlocutors, they need to accept anyone that is elected by the citizens of Serbia. Leaders from both Pristina and Tirana broke the ice and they should not lecture one another. However, dignity must be maintained in these meetings; they shouldn’t be pathetic, they should not pretend immediate friendship and love. The leaders in Tirana however should understand that by strengthening relations with Albania Belgrade wants to ignore Kosovo. But Kosovo cannot blame politicians from Albania for doing what Kosovo’s leaders did themselves and this is to meet with Serbian leaders”.

Basha: No Mini-Schengen without Serbia apologising to Kosovo (Kallxo)

Albania’s opposition leader Lulzim Basha reacted to the Mini-Schengen summit that took place in Durres saying that he was ashamed this meeting came soon after the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic denied the Recak massacre.

“The Democratic Party welcomes in principle any regional initiative aimed at getting the countries closer and strengthening their cooperation. However, we consider that good neighbourhood in the Western Balkans cannot be achieved by excluding the Republic of Kosovo. I therefore consider unacceptable the failure of the Albanian government to consult Kosovo on this initiative and without conditioning Albania’s participation with that of Kosovo,” Basha wrote on Facebook.

“The so-called mini Schengen summit took place in Durres only days after Serbia denied the Recak massacre, as part of efforts to revision the history of its state crime. This insult to Kosovo and the entire Albanian nation would have to be a sufficient argument not to go ahead with that activity until Serbia apologises,” Basha added.

Meta: Serbia to stop campaigns against Kosovo’s integration (Zeri)

President of Albania, Ilir Meta, has called on Serbia to stop campaign against Kosovo’s international integration. “One such example is Interpol membership. All in the region are aware that organised crime is one of the main problems in our country and Kosovo’s membership helps cooperation,” he said.

“I don’t understand why Serbia would take, in my view, a not very reasonable position and not at all constructive. Nevertheless, I believe in dialogue, partnership, and I hope the parties will soon sit at the table of talks and we strongly support normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia,” Meta added.

Haradinaj justifies depleting Kosovo’s reserve fund (Klan Kosova)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj said that the depletion of Kosovo’s reserve fund was highly justified and was in line with the law.

In a Facebook post, Haradinaj responded to reports that the reserve fund has been completely spent by his government by saying that the money was used to help farmers cope with flooding, pay extra working hours for firefighters, and also for relief efforts in Albania after the earthquake.

“Reserve fund of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo is a fund that covers expenses that have no budgetary line and which have not been initially planned in the annual budget. Usually, in this category, €5 million are allocated each year,” Haradinaj said adding that in previous Kosovo governments, these expenses were known to go beyond €7 million.

Gashi: 15 witnesses are being interviewed on Astrit Dehari’s case (media)

Tome Gashi, lawyer of Dehari family, told Ekonomia Online that 15 individuals are being interviewed as witnesses in the Astrit Dehari case. “The Special Prosecution of the Republic Kosovo has issued an order or a decision which authorized Kosovo Police to question over 15 witnesses, most of them the same, a major part are guards of Prizren detention center, medical staff that was present at the Prizren detention center. The novelty is that former Kosovo Police regional commander Nexhmi Krasniqi will also be interviewed. After collection of these evidences, the Prosecution will decide on how to proceed with the case of Astrit Dehari’s murder,” Gashi said.

Railways in Kosovo north under Serbia’s administration (media)

Kosovo continues not to administrate the railway line in Mitrovica North, despite the initiation of the project for rehabilitation and modernization of the railways in general. Kosovo competent authorities said the international railway line that connects Kosovo with Serbia is under administration of Serbia and Serbian parallel structures in Mitrovica North.

Agron Thaci, chief executive of Infrakos company which deals with railway infrastructure, told Radio Free Europe that this matter requires a speedy solution. “We operate up to Mitrovica South, Iber Bridge, while an organization from Serbia operates on the other side, and we are currently not in charge to operate without some kind of order,” he said hoping that this issue will be resolved in 2020. “There is no sense for us to have our police officers, customs officers in Jarinje, while the other train there runs without any permission, or consent of the country’s authorities,” he said.

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