- Experts: President has no constitutional basis to put pressure about forming government (KTV)
- MFA expects from Prosecution to press charges after analysing files (RTK)
- For 30 years, Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities have lived next to dumpsite in Gjakovë/Djakovica (KTV)
- Court sets security measure for person who threatened prosecutor Drita Hajdari (KTV)
- Schütz: Agreement on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has to be sustainable, not hasty (Kossev)
- Walker: Vucic is like Milosevic, he knows Reçak happened (T7)
Experts: President has no constitutional basis to put pressure about forming government
The Constitution experts consider the correspondence between President Hashim Thaçi and the Prime Minister designate Albin Kurti as mutual political manoeuvres. They say that the President should not put pressure by letters, as they believe that he has no other constitutional basis but to wait for a potential agreement; nevertheless, they emphasise that the Prime Minister designate should not continue this endlessly.
Mazllum Baraliu, a university professor, stated to KosovaPress that despite the delays, constitutional deadlines for pressure have not passed yet; however, he added that the President also is constitutionally obliged to take care of well-functioning of the institutions.
“It might be pressure, but the President has no constitutional basis to act otherwise, except waiting for them to reach an agreement. If they fail to reach the agreement, there should be some, but not endless, rationality in terms of action and deadlines. The potential designate should prove whether there is an agreement or not,” he said.
In addition, Baraliu says that in one option, the letter of President Thaçi may be viewed as a letter of good intention, in order for the government to be formed as soon as possible.
On the other hand, university professor and constitutional expert Riza Smaka says that the President is not authorised to put pressure, but adds that the President is obliged to do his best, in order for the Prime Minister designate to be appointed.
But Smaka believes that LDK is to blame for the whole situation. According to him, the demands of LDK are megalomanias and unjustifiable.
The meeting, which took place about one week ago between President Hashim Thaçi and the Prime Minister designate Albin Kurti, was followed by two exchanges of letters. The former asked for Vetëvendosje Movement, as the winning party of October 6 elections, to appoint the Prime Minister designate, and the latter, in another letter on Monday, qualified Thaçi’s letters as pressure.
MFA expects from Prosecution to press charges after analysing files
The Kosovo Special Prosecution Office has refrained from making comments and providing additional information about the files it has received from the Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), presented as evidence for crimes committed by Serbia during the 1998-99 war in Kosovo.
Media Office in the Special Prosecution Office did not provide any information regarding those documents, saying that it is a responsibility of the case prosecutor.
Bahri Hyseni, President of the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council (KPC), told Radio Free Europe that KPC was aware that MFA has submitted some documents to the relevant prosecution office, but he added that no additional information could be requested at the present stage.
“A file has been submitted, but we have no other information on what does the file contain, as it is not in our authority. This does not mean that we will not obtain information, because we request regular reports that are at the administrative level. So, they should inform us about all the reports that they have been able to deal with,” Hyseni said.
MFA officials stated to Radio Free Europe they expect that after those 10,000 documents are analysed, the first indictments will be filed.
Jetlir Zyberaj, advisor to the caretaker Minister Behgjet Pacolli, said that the Prosecution Office has received and is dealing with the submitted documents.
Bekim Blakaj, Executive Director of the Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) in Kosovo, says that HLC is very curious to know what the file submitted by MFA contains.
“Of course, information or evidence is always welcomed to be submitted to the state prosecutor. I think that the Prosecution Office should look at and analyse all the evidence, in order to come up with some indictment or at least with some information regarding that documentation,” Blakaj said.
For 30 years, Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities have lived next to dumpsite in Gjakovë/Djakovica
Discriminated and ignored both by the municipal and by the central government. This is how residents of Ali Ibra neighbourhood in Gjakovë/Djakovica feel.
Being surrounded by waste, they say they are sick and tired of living there.
For more than 30 years, they have lived in an environment full of waste.
The residents say that even their children have been diagnosed with various diseases, because of the surrounding waste.
The neighbourhood representatives say they have submitted many requests to the Municipality and to the Ministry of Environment for resolving this issue, but no concrete action, except promises, has been taken.
The Gjakovë/Djakovica municipality officials were reluctant to give any statement regarding this issue, with justification that the mayor was not in. All what they said briefly was that the committee that will address this issue was about to be completed, and that the dumpsite would be removed soon.
Court sets security measure for person who threatened prosecutor Drita Hajdari
Basic Court in Prishtinë/Pristina, the Serious Crimes Department, has ruled on the request of Prishtinë/Pristina Basic Prosecution to impose detention on remand against the defendant A.A. due to the criminal offense of “Incitement to murder”.
The Court has ruled and rejected the request of the Prosecution to impose detention on remand for the accused A.A, and instead, it has imposed the measure so that the accused is prohibited to approach the certain person for a month; therefore, the accused A.A is obliged not to approach the damaged person, namely prosecutor of the Special Prosecution Office D.H, keeping at least 100 metres distance from her.
“The Court ruled that the measure against the accused A.A to approach the certain person is a sufficient and adequate measure for unimpeded criminal proceedings at this stage,” the statement says.
The party may appeal the ruling at the Kosovo Court of Appeals.
Schütz: Agreement on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has to be sustainable, not hasty
An agreement between Belgrade and Pristina must be sustainable, implementable and must contribute to the stability of the whole region. And it must be supported by the people on both sides. Germany does not believe in an agreement where the implementation of which involves the exchange of territories. There should rather be a well structured negotiation process which covers all open issues. Therefore it should be about content rather than a time limit. While the agreement should not be rushed, time is essential as the dialogue should restart as soon as possible, said the newly appointed director of Southeastern Europe, Turkey and EFTA countries of the German Foreign Ministry, Susanne Schütz. In an interview with KoSSev, she spoke during her first official visit to Pristina, after having been German Ambassador to Albania from 2016 – mid 2019.
Where is the Balkans today and where will it be 2 years from now?
The Western Balkans for Germany is a very important part of Europe. In 2003 the EU gave an accession perspective to the entire Western Balkans. We want to confirm that the EU perspective also remains today because we think it is really important that the EU will eventually take these countries as its members. It is important not only for the region but also for our own stability, for the stability of Europe and for the future of Europe. It is about the standards and values of the EU and since the Western Balkans are already territorially inside of the EU, it is therefore also in the interest of the EU not to leave this region outside politically and economically. Therefore, this process will continue for the entire Western Balkans, including Kosovo also.
“For Serbia and Kosovo to eventually become members of the EU, it will be important to come to an agreement, as the normalization of their relations is an integral part of the negotiation process of the EU with Serbia.”
How lonely does Germany stand in its claim that the place of the Western Balkans is in Europe? In particular, concerning the latest developments in North Maceodnia, for instance? Are you alone in such pledges?
No, not at all. The EU perspective was reconfirmed at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia in 2018, and it remains a very important aim for all EU member states. Also France has acknowledged that they are firmly behind the EU perspective. What they are saying is that they would like to look into the methodology of the enlargement process and improve it. On the basis of the Commission’s suggestions the EU member states will come back to this issue very soon – probably at the end of January or in February. At the same time, the EU integration process of North Macedonia and Albania should go ahead.
Speaking of European values brings me to my next question: Can Germany still claim that the current regimes throughout Balkan countries are a stabilocracy? Are the Balkans’ leaders still a guarantee for peace in the region as used to be described in the past years by IC? How does that go with European values?
I would like to answer differently because stabilocracy is not the issue. We firmly believe in the importance of transparent, free and fair electoral processes. This is the basis for governments to come into power and to act. This is why we are observing electoral processes in the entire region very carefully. At the same time, I think it is important for voters to make use of their voting rights responsibly, and for political parties to participate, rather than boycott elections. As a result, governments should be formed reflecting the will of the voters.
To rephrase the questions: Would you describe the current regimes throughout the Balkans as de facto democracies or the authoritarian regimes, i.e, nominal democracies with autocratic elements of governing the countries?
We have to acknowledge that in this region we are dealing with still relatively young democracies which not so long ago evolved out of non-democratic dictatorships. This is why they still have to learn a lot, for example, how to deal with and how to respect opposition. In pluralistic democracies you need lots of voices. You need a majority and you also need to respect the rights of the minority, you need to have free media. The countries here in this region are still in the process of learning such important aspects. The EU is looking carefully into these topics and regularly evaluates progress in the commission’s annual country reports. At the same time the EU is giving a lot of support for improving democratic standards, for example, vis-à-vis media freedom or minority rights as they are important elements.
Speaking of the reports on fulfilling criteria, how well you are informed about the position of Kosovo Serbian community within the Kosovan systems in regard of enjoying the guaranteed rights, or rule of law?
During my visit I have spoken also to representatives of the Kosovo Serbian community who have informed me about the many problems they are facing. I am convinced, that for Kosovo to be a multiethnic society – and this is also written into the constitution -, minority rights and the full integration of minorities need to be given more attention. This applies to the Kosovo Serb community which enjoys extended rights enshrined in the Kosovar constitution thanks to the Ahtissaari Plan.
How would you describe the current communication between Germany and US and Germany – France on the Kosovo issue? What has been happening recently? Is there any active diplomacy? Apart for the appointment of Mr Grenell, we have not seen much other activities?
The EU member states together with the EU Commission and the European Union External Action Service as well as the so called Quint countries, including the United States, are in constant and very close exchange over the developments in the Western Balkans. We all meet regularly, have regular telephone conversations. We exchange positions and indeed we are working very closely together. Because we know that for supporting developments in this region it is import for the International Community to stay united. The nomination of Ambassador Grenell shows that the Western Balkans and in particular the Kosovo-Serbia issue remains very important to the US.
How soon may the Belgrade- Pristina dialogue start?
As there has not been a dialogue for more than a year, we believe, that the dialogue has to restart as soon as possible. For that, it takes resolve and political will on both sides and we think that this is an issue that needs a well structured negotiation process as well as well informed negotiation teams. Also the EU as the facilitator of this dialogue needs to strengthen its capacities to support the negotiations over the entire range of issues. You are more aware than myself of the wide scope of issues which have to be solved. As I said, it is important to come to an agreement not hastily, because an agreement, we believe, has to be sustainable and has to contribute to the stability of the entire region. We don’t believe in simple solutions. However, both sides should not lose more time and restart the dialogue as soon as a government has been formed in Kosovo.
There is no time limit. There has to be an agreement and there has to be an agreement which can be implemented, which has to be supported by both sides and peoples because it has to create stability here in this region. There has to be at the same time the political will and it has to be seen as the priority because, by not solving the issue, the situation will not get better but more and more difficult if you just leave it to be solved later. Also the issue of real integration of Kosovo Serbs in a multiethnic Kosovo state is an issue which will not become better by not solving it but will rather deepen the problems.
Was it a surprise for you that one more meeting had no outcome? While the ruling coalition may be established between Self-determination and LDK, there are voices raising concern that such a government cannot last for its full mandate. How reasonable are those voices to you? Do you expect that such a government will have a clear full mandate, or it may end sooner?
The elections were judged mostly transparent as well as free and fair – with some exceptions – by the European observer mission. Now it is up to the parties to form a coalition which will represent the voters’ intention and use their mandates in the interest of the Kosovo people. I am not in the position to judge the coalition negotiations. All I can say is that we hope that a government will be formed soon so that government work can continue. And of course, we would hope that such a government will be able and willing to overcome differences and personal issues in the interest of the country. As I said, there is the dialogue with Serbia, which we hope will be high on the priority agenda. But there are many other important issues, bilateral issues, reforms and their implementation – with a strong focus on rule of law, the fight against corruption and fight against organized crime. And there is the budget which will have to be agreed by March.
Walker: Vucic is like Milosevic, he knows Reçak happened
In a longer interview with T7, former Head of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) William Walker said that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic should wake up, and that he knows the truth of what happened in Recak.
Full interview with Mr. Walker follows.
Mr. Walker, first of all I would like to let you know that it is an honor for me and I have the pleasure to have an interview with you. We are very thankful that you accepted to be interviewed by us.
Walker: It is my pleasure. Believe me, it is my pleasure to talk to you.
Thank you so much! So, while twenty years have passed since the Reçak Massacre. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of it today?
Walker: I remember a very cold, cold winter night. A very black sky. Then the driving into a village that I had never heard of before that. I had no idea what to expect. Then the facing with what had happened a night earlier.
Can you tell us about the moment that you learned about the Reçak Massacre?
Walker: I was in Montenegro on that particular day. I was talking to a minister in Montenegro to get support for the Mission here. I was trying to separate him from Belgrade. I flew in by a helicopter on the night of January 15th and my British deputy told me that he had information about a clash between Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbian forces in a village called Reçak. I went to bed. I woke up early the next day and when I went to the office, the Brit told me that there is something suspicious in the story from Serbs. He told me Serbs allude that a number of KLA soldiers were killed, while none on the part of Serbs. It did not seem as a battle to me. I told him, let us go and see. I was absolutely shocked by the horror that I saw when I got there.
Have you ever seen anything more horrible in your life than the one you saw that day?
Walker: I have seen several battles when an army fought against the other army, where many bad things happened, but I have never seen a more unilateral battle than in Reçak. A very civil village, old men, young men massacred. So, no, nothing has ever shocked me more than this massacre.
So, is it easily documentable that this massacre was committed by the Serbian forces?
Walker: I have no doubt in mind about what I have seen and I think that it would be verified without any doubt in The Hague in case Milosevic had not died. The story that came from my opinion everywhere, but Belgrade, was a war crime.
Have you drawn reports at that time about what had happened, and if so, where are these documents?
Walker: Of course, we did a lot of reporting. That was one of the products. Reports were written every day. The reaction which started that day started to be built up by the world media. Where are they? I think they are in Vienna, at the OSCE offices. Have they been shared with the world? I do not know. The OSCE issued a report on the humanitarian right and Reçak massacre was an important chapter in that book.
Can the documents or reports produced at that time by the Mission you led be made public?
Walker: I only spent six months in the OSCE. I was not at the offices in Vienna, but it similar to the European Union. What can one understand from the EU Missions? I never know if the reports go to New York. Are they public of private? I don’t know the answer.
Serbian state leaders denied the massacre several times and said it was a fabrication. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic also said – I quote: “It was all falsified by that global fraudster, scammer and swindler William Walker.” What is your message for him?
Walker: I don’t know where he gets ground for that. I find it strange how 21 years later they still talk about me in Belgrade. That is how Milosevic described me, too. But, 21 years later, Serbia’s President still speaks like that… he knows the truth that happened in Reçak. I believe he was an information minister or something like that in Milosevic’s time. So, he’s a Milosevic-type politician. There are people in this world who, despite all the evidence or science, still believe that the earth is flat. We were on the Moon and then they began to suspect that we had gone there. This is Vucic to me. He believes in flat earth, or that we have not gone to the Moon, or that the Reçak massacre never happened. But, I’m sure he knows the massacre happened. He was part of the command. He can call me whatever he wants. He can tell his supporters that I am a global fraudster, that I am a liar and everything he has called me. He has better things to do in his life 21 years after it was a macabre act by the Serbian forces.
Is there anything specific you have to say to Aleksandar Vucic at these moments?
Walker: Wake up!
How do you feel today, after 21 years since the commanders and executors of this plan are protected by the Serbian government?
Walker: I know many Serbs who are good people. I think that Serbia will not become part of the modern world until it will admit that it has done serious mistakes. If it had treated people in Kosovo as it should, as Yugoslavs, we wouldn’t talk about an independent Kosovo today. They would still be part of united Yugoslavia. Until Serbia stops thinking that in a way it is a victim of all those things, I do not see Serbia become part of a modern and democratic world.
What do you say to the families of the victims now, when 21 years after there is still no justice for them?
Walker: There are many ways for them to feel justice. One is because some people in Serbia acknowledge these crimes. They want to tell the world what they have done. If there is prosecution of some persons who taken decisions in the chain of command in Serbia, which resulted with massacre in Reçak it would be a form of justice. Another form of justice that I believe started to happen earlier… for a while the Government here did not pay much attention to Reçak. I have visited Reçak every time I was given the opportunity since 2000, but until the recent years, there was no representative from the Government. However, in the recent years, the President and staff members came. They told the village that they feel their sacrifice. The importance of that sacrifice, which is now the Republic of Kosovo, is another form of justice. I hope that children here are learning what Reçak represents. But, of course, it is more important that some criminals are punished.
Where should they seek justice?
Walker: Well, not in Serbian court. The Hague is a good place, although The Hague has ceased its operations for war crimes here. Now they are looking for Albanian criminals. The disproportion of doing bad things from the Government in Belgrade, from an armed Serbian force, and on the other hand, KLA, which was not a big army and they would not win the war, yet they started to burn down the villages. This is disproportionate. So, where can they seek justice now? In The Hague, I believe. But, unfortunately they are only looking at the KLA soldiers. I think they have forgotten what has happened here and the real criminals were never punished, which is really a shame.
Let us change the subject. Mr. Walker, today you visited the LDK headquarters. Can you tell us who did you meet and what did you talk about?
Walker: I met Vjosa Osmani. I never met her before, but I heard a lot about her in diaspora. I heard many good things about her, but today is the first time that I met her. I met two other persons from LDK, both of them doctors, one a neurosurgeon and a heart surgeon, but I do not remember their names. We had a very positive meeting. Of course, we talked about negotiations between Vetëvendosje and LDK. Everything I heard from her made me feel more positive than before the meeting. She is very impressive. I think that if she heads the talks from LDK, they will reach the agreement. I like the fact that this is something I have been saying for a while. It is time for a new generation of politicians to come to the head of state. This is the reason why I tried to help Vetëvendosje a few years ago. I told people in LDK that every time I come to Kosovo I never had someone to meet with because the leaders from 2000-2005-2010 are the same ones. I know them all, because I have seen them all these years. It is nice to see new faces with new ideas. I am much more optimistic about agreement than when I woke up this morning.
One last question. What will Kosovo benefit with Albin Kurti as its Prime Minister?
Walker: If nothing else, one, it is a new generation. Two, when I first got involved and talked to people from different embassies here five-six years ago about Albin Kurti, they told me no – they are troublemakers, they want to take to the streets and make riots. Some of them said they were communists or anti-Americans. I never believed this and I told the American ambassadors – whatever you think of Vetëvendosje, you should get to know them first. Talk to them, take them in the political system, and it happened. I know Albin Kurti, although I haven’t spoken to him for a while. Recently, he grew politically a lot. Some think that if there are elections again, he will get even more votes. But, now they are in politics and politics as government and politics as opposition is different. Do they have people to fill up Government offices and to govern well? I hope so. I wish success to any Government that comes. If they are successful, Kosovo will be successful. I think that Kosovo is not a good position at present. They haven’t met people’s expectations. People’s enthusiasm on the day that independence happened has slowly disappeared and rightfully so. This must change and the leadership of last 20 years had their chance. I am certain that they have tried a lot, but without success. I really hope that the new Government will be formed, and, of course, wish it succeeds.