Albanian Language Media:
- Thaci invites Kurti to give him mandate to form new government (media)
- Kurti turns down Thaci’s invitation, he is not in Pristina (Gazeta Express)
- Konjufca: It was clear to LDK that Vetevendosje would not block Assembly (KTV)
- EU Office welcomes constitution of new Assembly (media)
- Albanian President comments on Vucic’s remarks about Recak massacre (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Drecun: Serbian List must not be marginalized in new government (RTS)
- CI SDP: Ivanovic’s murder trial will be a farce (KoSSev)
- Kosovo Parliament Convenes as Coalition Deal Remains Elusive (The New York Times)
- LDK to Support Kosovo Minority Government From Opposition (Balkan Insight)
- War Commanders Questioned as Prosecutors Step Up Probes (Balkan Insight)
- Western Balkans Have Yet to Embrace Freedom of Information (Balkan Insight)
- Gorazdevac: We’ve survived the worst, but we are slowly disappearing (KoSSev)
Albanian Language Media
Thaci invites Kurti to give him mandate to form new government (media)
Several news websites have published a copy of the invitation that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has sent to Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) leader and candidate for Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, for a meeting today at 13:30.
Thaci wrote in the invitation: “Honorable Mr. Kurti, I invite you to attend the consultative meeting to appoint a mandate-holder for forming the new government.
In line with Article 84 (14) and Article 95.1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, I will undertake steps foreseen by the Constitution to appoint a mandate-holder for forming the Government of the Republic of Kosovo.
In line with Article 95.1 of the Constitution and the Decision of the Central Election Commission dated 27.11.2019, for the certification of the final results of the Early Elections for the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo on October 6 2019, the Vetevendosje Movement is the party that won the required majority in the Assembly to form the Government and is entitled to nominate a candidate to form the Government.
The meeting will be held on December 27 2019, starting from 13:30, in the Office of the President of the Republic of Kosovo”.
Kurti turns down Thaci’s invitation, he is not in Pristina (Gazeta Express)
Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) leader and candidate for Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, has turned down an invitation from Kosovo President Hashim Thaci for a meeting today. Thaci invited Kurti to appoint a mandate-holder for the new government. The Vetevendosje Movement said in a statement that they received the invitation around 11:00 and that Kurti cannot meet Thaci today.
“Shortly after 11:00, the LVV headquarters received a letter from the President of Kosovo for a meeting today at 13:30 with LVV leader Albin Kurti. Kurti is unable to meet the President today, because he is not in Pristina. He will soon notify the President about the possible dates for a meeting,” LVV said in a statement.
Konjufca: It was clear to LDK that Vetevendosje would not block Assembly (KTV)
Kosovo Assembly Speaker Glauk Konjufca said in an interview with KTV on Thursday evening that Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa was aware that Vetevendosje’s candidate could be elected Assembly Speaker.
“I think all those that were surprised by Vetevendosje’s action, they in fact expected that Kosovo’s institutions would be blocked – this would not have been pleasant for the people of Kosovo,” Konjufca said.
“Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti informed Isa Mustafa in their meeting on December 24 that if we fail to reach an agreement by December 25, then we would be forced to proceed in line with the Constitution and the legislation in force. He [Kurti] warned Mustafa that if they don’t accept one of the solutions for the new government and if they expect that we would block the lives of the people, this was not going to happen,” he added.
Konjufca said that the LDK might not have been aware about the name of Vetevendosje’s candidate for the post of Assembly Speaker. “They might not have been informed about my name, but Mustafa is thinking and reflecting in totally unexpected fashion, because he knew very well that if an agreement was not reached 24 hours prior to the constitutive session of the Kosovo Assembly, Vetevendosje would not block the process. This meant that Vetevendosje was forced to nominate a candidate for the post of Assembly President and for the presidency to assemble and constitute the Assembly,” he added.
Konjufca also said that the key problem in negotiations between Vetevendosje and the LDK was the post of Kosovo President and that “the LDK was not giving ground on the matter”.
EU Office welcomes constitution of new Assembly (media)
Most news websites report that the European Union’s Office in Kosovo has welcomed the constitution of the Kosovo Assembly and congratulated newly-elected Speaker Glauk Konjufca.
“We welcome the constitution of the Assembly of Kosovo and congratulate the newly elected Speaker and Assembly Presidency.
We look forward to the swift government formation which would enable Kosovo to move forward on its economic and social development, on rule of law and on its European agenda.
We look forward to working together with the new authorities on these common objectives.”
Albanian President comments on Vucic’s remarks about Recak massacre (media)
Albanian President Ilir Meta said on Thursday that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s remarks about the Recak massacre, where 45 Kosovo Albanians were killed in January 1999, are unacceptable. Meta said Vucic’s statement was meant as a provocation against the Albanians.
“It is unacceptable to say that the Recak massacre was fabricated, because this means you are denying a genocide that was committed in the very heart of Europe. This cannot be accepted, because tomorrow he [Vucic] could say the same about Srebrenica and this cannot be accepted. He should not provoke the Albanians and regional cooperation,” Meta said.
Meta also commented on Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s criticism against Kosovo’s outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. “His insults against Kosovo’s political leaders are totally unacceptable. You cannot lunch and dine with Serbian leaders and insult Kosovo’s politicians. As far as Rama’s accusations against Ramush are concerned, I don’t find them concerning because everyone knows that he [Haradinaj] defended his truths at every level. Rama cannot export internal conflicts over to Kosovo,” he said.
Serbian Language Media
Drecun: Serbian List must not be marginalized in new government (RTS)
Serbian Assembly Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Chairman Milovan Drecun said that after each elections in Kosovo there were “bargains until the last moment” and threats by new elections that didn’t happen, RTS reports.
He added, this is about the attempts of two parties Self-determination Movement and LDK to get the biggest portion of “a power cake” in order to achieve better division of functions.
“For us the attitude towards electoral will of the Serbian people, towards the Serbian people in general, is the most interesting. Serbs clearly said in the elections they want no one else but Serbian List to represent them before Kosovo institutions,” Drecun said. Commenting on the election of Slavko Simic from the Serbian List as Deputy Speaker of the Kosovo Assembly, Drecun said it indicates that Serbian List is not marginalized.
“Whether this mean that Self-determination and LDK are ready to accept the Serbian List in a new executive power it remains to be seen,” Drecun pointed out.
He also assessed that exclusion of the Serbs, the second largest community in Kosovo from the institution would be “a cancerous wound” for any coalition in Pristina, because such coalitions would neither be sustainable nor stable.
Inter-ethnic relations, particularly between Serbs and Albanians are the most important for the relations in Kosovo, Drecun said, adding that bringing in additional instabilities and tensions in these relations would lead towards instability and tensions, RTS reported.
CI SDP: Ivanovic’s murder trial will be a farce (KoSSev)
Preliminary hearing in the case of Oliver Ivanovic’s murder will take place on Monday at 9.30, KoSSev portal reports.
Meanwhile, the Civic Initiative Freedom, Democracy, Justice (GI SDP) in a latest press statement listed a series of objections to the investigation and procedural irregulates related to the invitations for the hearing and delivery of indictments.
CI SDP said it has observed a number of inconsistencies in the investigative acts conducted over the last 23 months, voicing remark that “indicted Serbs will stand trial in Pristina before judicial council made of Albanian representatives only, without a single Serbian member in it.”
The SPD also had objections related to the procedure, saying the right to language was not respected, given that indicted persons received only paraphrased indictment in the Serbian language.
“Why defense lawyers of indicted Serbs received court material in the Albanian language, based on which they would prepare the defense of their clients,” SDP said, adding that “CDs which could not be even read” were also delivered along with the court material.
SDP opined that this indictment, that also includes close associate of Oliver Ivanovic, Silvana Arsovic, and the entire trial represent “a major farce.”
Kosovo Parliament Convenes as Coalition Deal Remains Elusive (The New York Times)
Kosovo’s new parliament convened on Thursday for the first time since the Balkan country held a snap election in October, although the two biggest parties are still struggling to reach a deal on forming a new government.
One of the biggest challenges for any government will be to negotiate a deal with neighbouring Serbia, which has steadfastly refused to acknowledge Kosovo’s independence. The leftist Vetevendosje party won 29 seats in the 120-seat legislature and the centre-right Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) 28 in an Oct. 6 national election.
Some smaller parties have said they would support a Vetevendosje/LDK government to provide it with a majority but the LDK’s demand to appoint a new President when Hashim Thaci’s term ends in 2021 has proved a sticking point in negotiations between the two groups.
See at: https://nyti.ms/2MzpaVr
LDK to Support Kosovo Minority Government From Opposition (Balkan Insight)
In a new twist to Kosovo’s complicated post-election coalition talks, the second-placed Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, has said it will support a Vetevendosje-led minority government – without joining it.
In an abrupt turn of events in Kosovo, the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, Isa Mustafa, on Thursday said his party was willing to vote for a minority government led by Albin Kurti’s Vetevendosje party – but will stay in opposition and not join it.
The announcement came ahead of Thursday’s constitutive session of the parliament amid fears that no government would be voted into office and that the country could face another round of elections.
The LDK has now pledged to remain in opposition and not take up any posts in the new minority government.
See at: https://bit.ly/2QntlEH
War Commanders Questioned as Prosecutors Step Up Probes (Balkan Insight)
The summoning of former Kosovo Liberation Army commanders for questioning by war crimes prosecutors in The Hague made headlines throughout 2019, while Kosovo politicians called for a new tribunal to try Serbs for genocide.
Over 120 former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters have reportedly been summoned during the year for questioning in The Hague, where the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office is preparing the first indictments for wartime and post-war crimes in Kosovo between 1998 and 2000.
So far the prosecutors have interviewed several former Kosovo Liberation Army guerrilla leaders and prominent political figures, including outgoing Prime Minister Ramush Haradianj and Kadri Veseli, a political party leader and former speaker of the Kosovo Assembly.
Outgoing Justice Minister Abelard Tahiri has also been quizzed, with sources in his office telling BIRN that that he was asked about the obstruction of justice.
“[The Specialist Prosecutor’s Office] has been implementing its mandate, namely requesting the presence of and questioning suspects, victims and witnesses, as well as collecting and examining information and evidence, and taking decisions on the initiation, and the continuation or termination of criminal proceedings,” Specialist Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Christopher Bennett told BIRN.
See at: https://bit.ly/2QlRR9n
Western Balkans Have Yet to Embrace Freedom of Information (Balkan Insight)
Liberal-sounding access to information laws – vital for a free media – have yet to bring real transparency to the traditionally secretive countries of the Balkan region, a BIRN report shows.
Between January 2017 and June 2019, BIRN journalists submitted 854 official requests to access public documents in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. With the aid of the information gained from these requests, BIRN produced numerous investigative pieces and so exposed wrongdoing by governments, companies and powerful individuals.
See at: https://bit.ly/39hRJjZ
Gorazdevac: We’ve survived the worst, but we are slowly disappearing (KoSSev)
We are hostages of a system that is slowly eating away at us from the inside. Nobody is focusing on the essence of the problem, but on their posts and positions that are supposed to bring political profit to certain currents – the editor of Radio Gorazdevac, Darko Dimitrijevic said. According to Dimitrijevic, the return to Kosovo has nosedived, while one of the biggest failures is not preventing the sale of Serb-owned property. Nevertheless, the survival of Kosovo Serbs should be the priority issue – he underlined.
Dimitrijevic talked about the living conditions of the remaining Serbs in Metohija villages and returnees and what marked the end of the year.
With just over 1,000 inhabitants, Gorazdevac and Osojane are the largest communities in Pec area inhabited by Serbs, along with several smaller returnee villages and hamlets. But that number is in constant decline, the editor of Radio Gorazdevac told KoSSev.
“Like in all other places in Kosovo, there is a trend of young people leaving. This is what hurts us the most. We survived the worst 15 – 20 years ago – the death of children in Bistrica in 2003, March riots in 2004, but as things stand, we are slowly disappearing. There are several returnee villages in the municipality of Pec/ Peja, Istok, Klina, but the problem is of a different nature. There are no young people there, mostly just returnee households with older people, which are slowly dying out and most of these villages are slowly emptying and remaining empty precisely because of this reason,” Dimitrijevic warned.
Although the Gorazdevac residents stayed after the war – they are leaving today. This can be supported by the data on schoolchildren. Only some ten years ago, the secondary school in Gorazdevac had some 80 students, today – only 13.
The major problem is that while people are selling their properties and fleeing from Gorazdevac and Osojane, only a handful of them actually return.
“I think the return process is completely misplaced. Since we no longer have a collective return, I think we have completely stopped with this process,” Dimitrijevic assessed.
Speaking of those who returned, Dimitrijevic claimed they are unsafe, with a poor quality of reconstructed houses. It is unfinished business, cheap in the field, and done to ‘cover’ the problem with positive data, this is how Dimitrijevic described the situation in the field.
In addition to the grave circumstances, Dimitrijevic claimed that a change of the original site’s ethnic background tends to discourage more people to stay. One such example is Brestovik village – where there were initially about 70 Serb returnee families. The Kosovo Ministry of Return and Communities, in cooperation with the municipality of Pec, in the meantime decided to return about 50 families, including those from the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities. The number of Serb returnees in Brestovik halved in the meantime, with the current amounting to 20 to 30 of them, Dimitrijevic claimed. He adds that this number could decline even further, as the sale of Serb-owned properties is a daily occurrence – he added.
Thefts in central Kosovo are an everyday occurrence. Frequent thefts of furniture, agricultural machinery, livestock, vehicles, as well as illegal logging, have been over the years “rather a rule than an individual incident” south of the Ibar River. When asked who is thieving and what the police are doing about it, Dimitrijevic replied that the essence of the issue is that there is no multi-ethnic police force in the Pec region, which makes cooperation with the local community difficult.
Such a situation is in spite of a great interest in acquiring a job in the police force that the young Serbs have shown, claimed Dimitrijevic. He told KoSSev that local Serbs failed to obtain a job in the police despite their attempts to apply. Recently some 60 young Serbian males from Gorazdevac and the surrounding villages applied twice to join the police, but “in vain”.
“It is impossible for no one to pass the general knowledge test. In my view, this is a clear form of discrimination against the Serb community in this region.“ The Serb applicants were told, among other things, that “there are enough Serb police officers in the North, and that the quota of multi-ethnicity was thus met.“
Has the situation been always like this?
“There are two Serb police officers, but this does not reflect the mixed composition of the police. We have a station in Gorazdevac, where there were about 9 Serb police officers, about 7 Albanians, some Bosniaks, or Roma. It was really multi-ethnic. In the meantime, senior Serbian police officers have retired and the regional police did not accept any member of the Serb community, despite a strong interest in the competition,“ Dimitrijevic emphasized.
The long-standing exploitation of sand from the riverbed, attempts to store chemical waste from the SWISS factory from Pec in the middle of the road between Gorazdevac and Pocesce villages, are also current problems in the area. According to Dimitrijevic, “deep-rooted corruption“ is to be blamed for these issues.
Although Serbs and Albanians jointly protested this year – and for the first time in 20 years – in an effort to prevent their villages from being polluted by chemical waste, it was not enough to solve the problem. Even though the relocation of barrels containing chemical waste was temporarily halted, the ultimate goal is to erect buildings and apartments for sale at the site of the former leather and shoe factory.
Finally, who cares about the people?
“We are left to ourselves, but there are a few notable exceptions. There are very few people trying to do something for the community and move things from a standstill,” Dimitrijevic complained against efficiency of institutions.
There is no perception that citizens have to criticize the government in order for it to do better, out of the best of intents, nothing malicious, to point out problems in order to encourage that government to do better – he estimated.
But there are exceptions. Dimitrijevic singled out the Eparchy of Raska-Prizren as the most vivid example of those who are committed to helping the community.
“I have to point to the Visoki Decani Monastery, which has established itself as a protector of people, especially those in the returnee villages,“ he added.
“Dozens of wells were dug, tractors, agricultural machinery – various types of incentives were allocated for the people to stay and produce. Monasteries often buy these agricultural products to encourage people to produce. It would be beneficial if that kind of concern existed in the Kosovo Office, as well as in the Kosovo institutions and our elected representatives there,“ Dimitrijevic noted.
Another positive example is the mayor of Pec, Gazmend Muhaxheri.
“He simply opened the door to the Serb community,“ Dimitrijevic told KoSSev, adding that Muhaxheri has been organizing public debates on the municipal budget for the last five years, where he discusses this matter with the ethnic Serb locals.
“He comes to Gorazdevac and asks people – we have this amount of money for the Serbian community, what do you want to use it for. And the people witnessed it and recognized it as an act of respect towards them and I think that he enjoys the trust of our citizens.“
See at: https://bit.ly/34VPZcx