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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 14, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Vetevendosje sends final offer to LDK? (Indeksonline)
• Mustafa: LDK has received a new offer from LVV (Telegrafi)
• Analysts on consequences from delays in forming new government (Telegrafi)
• Thaci calls parties to propose new election commission members (Indeksonline)
• Police arrest two Russian nationals near border with Serbia (Klan Kosova)
• William Walker: Recak must not be forgotten (media)
• Haxhiu: Decision for Assembly Speaker irreversible, elections an option (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Dacic: Belgrade dissatisfied with small number of chapters opened (BETA, N1)
• Schütz: Agreement on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has to be sustainable, not hasty (KoSSev)
• KP: Russian, Albanian citizens arrested in Leposavic for “illegal border crossing” (KoSSev, Kontakt plus radio, RTK2)
• New Insajder show on the murder of Oliver Ivanovic: (Not) a perfect crime (Insajder, N1)
• Von der Leyen: Next six months crucial for both EU and Western Balkans (N1)

International:

• Kosovo-Albania future: the many ‘but-s’ that follow the idea of unification (Tirana Times)
• Kosovo President May Seek Court Advice Over Political Stalemate (Balkan Insight)
• Return to Kosovo: The Serbs Who Re-Embraced Their Hometown (Balkan Insight)
• Paralysis in Pristina: poll winners struggle to form coalition govt (RFI, AFP)

Humanitarian/Development:

• ‘The rapist is you:’ Kosovo joins global anti-violence movement (Prishtina Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Vetevendosje sends final offer to LDK? (Indeksonline)
  • Mustafa: LDK has received a new offer from LVV (Telegrafi)
  • Analysts on consequences from delays in forming new government (Telegrafi)
  • Thaci calls parties to propose new election commission members (Indeksonline)
  • Police arrest two Russian nationals near border with Serbia (Klan Kosova)
  • William Walker: Recak must not be forgotten (media)
  • Haxhiu: Decision for Assembly Speaker irreversible, elections an option (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Dacic: Belgrade dissatisfied with small number of chapters opened (BETA, N1)
  • Schütz: Agreement on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has to be sustainable, not hasty (KoSSev)
  • KP: Russian, Albanian citizens arrested in Leposavic for “illegal border crossing” (KoSSev, Kontakt plus radio, RTK2) 
  • New Insajder show on the murder of Oliver Ivanovic: (Not) a perfect crime (Insajder, N1)
  • Von der Leyen: Next six months crucial for both EU and Western Balkans (N1)

International:

  • Kosovo-Albania future: the many ‘but-s’ that follow the idea of unification (Tirana Times)
  • Kosovo President May Seek Court Advice Over Political Stalemate (Balkan Insight)
  • Return to Kosovo: The Serbs Who Re-Embraced Their Hometown (Balkan Insight)
  • Paralysis in Pristina: poll winners struggle to form coalition govt (RFI, AFP)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • ‘The rapist is you:’ Kosovo joins global anti-violence movement (Prishtina Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Vetevendosje sends final offer to LDK? (Indeksonline)

According to the news website, Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) leader Albin Kurti has sent a final offer for a coalition government to Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa late last night.

Kurti has reportedly proposed that the new government should have 14 ministries instead of 12 which was initially proposed, and according to the proposal, the LDK would get six ministries, the LVV would get five, and three ministries would go to the minorities.

The offer reportedly contains details for every position for every political party.

“The Vetevendosje Movement will get the Prime Minister, the Assembly President, the second Deputy Prime Minister, a Vice President of the Assembly, and five government ministries,” the proposal notes.

The Vetevendosje Movement has proposed that the LDK would get the Principal Deputy Prime Minister, the Principal Vice President of the Assembly, six ministries, and two deputy ministers more than the Vetevendosje Movement.

The Vetevendosje Movement has also reportedly agreed that the LDK will nominate a candidate for Kosovo President and that this candidate would have to meet all requirements and constitutional criteria.

“If for any reason, the President is not elected, then the LDK would get another ministry,” the proposal notes.

Mustafa: LDK has received a new offer from LVV (Telegrafi)

The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) has received a new coalition government offer from the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) on Monday evening, the news website reports. 

LDK spokesman Besian Mustafa told Telegrafi today that Vetevendosje’s new offer is very similar to the one made last week. “Yesterday we received from the Vetevendosje Movement a proposal that is very similar to the one we received last week, with some minor changes, which we will discuss in the coming days,” Mustafa said, without revealing further details. 

Analysts on consequences from delays in forming new government (Telegrafi)

Political commentators in Pristina argue that delays in forming the new government due to the lack of a coalition agreement between the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) are seen as detrimental for Kosovo.

Belul Beqaj, political analyst, told the news website: “Every day that passes without an agreement seriously compromises the partners … For the people and I, who have voted for change, more important than the formation of the coalition is the mindset for change”. Beqaj said that there are evident consequences from delays in the process. “The question we should be asking is will the new government be able to successfully address the ever-mounting consequences,” he added.

Eugen Cakolli, from the Pristina-based Kosovo Democratic Institute, said in addition to the lack of a coalition agreement, there have also been delays in the certification of the election results and that all these have led to growing distrust among the people with the institutions. “I think we will be seeing some more delays in the formation of the new government,” he predicted. “As winner of the elections, Vetevendosje is responsible for forming the institutions because we are at a sensitive period. We need to have a government in place because of the budget … Delays in the process have kept an outgoing government in power for a long time and they have made many decisions that have had mainly financial implications. The new government needs to be formed as soon as possible because many processes need to pushed forward. One of them is also the process of the dialogue with Serbia. And there are also other obligations that Kosovo has assumed vis-à-vis Europe.”

Thaci calls parties to propose new election commission members (Indeksonline)

The news website reports that Kosovo’s Central Election Commission (CEC) will soon have a new composition following the October 6 early parliamentary elections.

Citing unnamed sources, Indeksonline reports that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has called on political parties to propose the new members of the CEC. President Thaci’s call is based on the law for general elections in Kosovo, the law on mandates and appointment of members of the CEC. 

The political parties will have to propose their candidates to the President by January 27.

Police arrest two Russian nationals near border with Serbia (media)

Klan Kosova reported on Monday evening that two Russian nationals were arrested by Kosovo Police on Monday as they were trying to illegally cross the Kosovo – Serbia border near the village of Sarpel. According to the news website, police apprehended the two Russian nationals as they were travelling along an illegal route that is used by smugglers in the northern part of Kosovo. 

Kosovo Police issued the following press release: “On 13 January 2020 around 10:30, in the village of Sarpel, a police patrol stopped a vehicle with Montenegrin license plates driven by a Russian male national. In the vehicle was another Russian national, a woman”.

Citing unnamed sources, Klan Kosova reports that the two Russian nationals, Igor K. and Marina V, were carrying in their vehicle suspicious material related to the field of security. “Kosovo security institutions believe that the Russian man has a military experience. In footage secured by the TV station, Igor can be seen in military uniform,” the news website reports.

For the time being, however, the two Russian nationals are suspected only for illegal crossing of the border.

Lajmi news website quotes a police press release as saying that “two Russian nationals, a man and a woman, have been arrested under the suspicion that they have illegally crossed the Serbia – Kosovo border with their vehicle with Montenegrin license plates. Following a decision by the prosecutor, both suspects have been sent to detention and their vehicle has been confiscated”.

William Walker: Recak must not be forgotten (media)

Ambassador William Walker, a veteran United States Foreign Service diplomat and former head of the Kosovo Verification Mission, said in an interview to RTK today that no one should ever forget about the massacre of 45 unarmed Kosovo Albanians in the village of Recak in January 1999. 

“I can vividly remember what happened that day and then what ensured after it, the conferences in London and Rambouillet, after internationals invited me to speak on what was happening in Kosovo and what needed to be done. What ensued were the NATO air raids and the liberation of Kosovo,” Walker said.

“The people in Recak are like a family to me. They are wonderful people that sacrificed a lot, same as the residents of many other villages in Kosovo at the time,” he added.

Walker also said he was touched by the fact that some younger political leaders are forgetting about the Recak massacre. “I know that some of them are forgetting about Recak. They know the name, they know the meaning, but there is a younger generation coming and I hope they will keep on hearing about Recak,” he said.

Asked to comment on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s remarks denying the massacre, Walker said: “He denied the Recak massacre, he denied me and this denial that has been going on for 21 years despite all the evidence, is worrisome. His remarks are similar to those made by Slobodan Milosevic, who expressed the same sentiments, the same words at The Hague, the same denial for 20 years despite all the evidence”.

Walker also said that the past must not be forgotten and that it is very important to remember the Recak massacre, the massacre of the Jashari family and other massacres, “not to incite hatred and violence, but for people to remember that a great sacrifice was made, people paid with their lives and the highest price for us to have what we have today”. 

Haxhiu: Decision for Assembly Speaker irreversible, elections an option (media)

Deputy leader of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) Albulena Haxhiu said the matter of the Assembly Speaker is closed and that if the coalition with the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) is not reached, the only option is extraordinary elections.

“LDK never said that the Assembly Speaker belongs to the, on the contrary, we said for the sake of cooperation that we can discuss the proposal and nominate one of LDK members. But LDK wanted both the Assembly Speaker and the President, when we came to this situation, LDK persistence for President and everything changed and there was no agreement. We proposed the Assembly Speaker, but if they did not vote for him, he would not pass. We acted in accordance with their requests. The did not pay attention at the meetings to the post of the Assembly Speaker, but it became a problem after his election. The decision of 75 MPs is irreversible. If they accept our offer, everything would have been easier,” she said.

Haxhiu admitted that a new offer was submitted to LDK however she did not want to comment on it. She says after the offer, the LDK should call the steering committee and consider the offer and then call LVV leader for a meeting, which should happen as soon as possible.

She blamed LDK for the delays on the reach of the agreement, saying that they continuously came up with different demands, which prolonged the process for eventual coalition.

We have started with our efforts 100 days ago, did everything possible to enable coalition with LDK. Furthermore, we made many compromises only to enable and implement the will of the citizens expressed on 6 October. We continue to have the same commitment that we had then. We consider that on 6 October, citizens sent us a clear message as a winning political party and with Albin Kurti as Prime Minister. We have had some obstacles in reaching this coalition due to LDK’s demands, first with the inclusion of the President’s post and then, after 26 December with election of the Assembly Speaker.

Haxhiu did not mention any date however she said coalition should happen as soon as possible, as Kosovo risks to block due to the lack of the approval of the budget.

“We expect them to say their word and then to see how to proceed further. I believe that meetings should take place, considering the budget and many other processes.  I believe that the meetings will take place very soon as we are interested not to prolong matters further. The country faces many problems, we should act swiftly,” she said.

‘We are strongly committed to this coalition as we said and acted. I hope that LDK will accept our offer in order to open the way to the formation of the government of the Republic of Kosovo. We will not have other partners, except for cooperation with minority parties. As far as PAN, not divided political parties are concerned, we will not have cooperation, so the second alternative are extraordinary elections, which are not acceptable for LVV as the country is going through problematic situations. If we go for this version, then we are obliged to do so,” she concluded.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Dacic: Belgrade dissatisfied with small number of chapters opened (BETA, N1)

Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic said on Monday the official Belgrade is dissatisfied with the fact that it has opened 18 of the 35 chapters in its pre-accession negotiations with the European Union, BETA news agency reports.

He said the fact that just 18 chapters were opened is caused by the fact that progress on the road to EU membership is evaluated on the basis of progress in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, not progress in implementing reforms. 

“We’re not disputing the objections from the EU but Serbia’s progress in European integration is not determined on the basis of implemented reforms but primarily on the basis of progress in relations with Pristina. If there’s progress in the dialogue, we can talk. If there is no progress, then we open one chapter, two at most,” he said. 

The Foreign Affairs Minister also said that Serbia’s first priority is to protect national and state interests and its main political goal is EU membership. The problem are demands which affect Serbia’s state and national interests.

“We can’t impose sanctions on Russia to join the EU because that is not in our interest. On the other hand, some Western countries have better relations with Russia than we do,” Dacic said, adding that Serbia will not conduct policies harmful to its national and state interests. He said that no one has set recognition of Kosovo as a condition and added that Serbia certainly won’t recognize Kosovo without a compromise.

See at: https://bit.ly/30koI35

Schütz: Agreement on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has to be sustainable, not hasty (KoSSev)

Agreement between Belgrade and Pristina must be sustainable, implementable and must contribute to the stability of the whole region. It should also be supported by the people on both sides. Germany does not believe in an agreement where the implementation involves exchange of territories, a newly appointed director of Southeastern Europe, Turkey and the EFTA countries of the German Foreign Ministry, Susanne Schütz said in an interview with KoSSev.

She added that 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, Schutz opined.

Full interview is available at: https://bit.ly/2QP38Ay

KP: Russian, Albanian citizens arrested in Leposavic for “illegal border crossing” (KoSSev, Kontakt plus radio, RTK2) 

The KoSSev portal reports, quoting a Kosovo police report, that a series of incidents were reported to Kosovo police stations responsible for municipalities in the North yesterday. As many as four people have been arrested in Leposavic for “illegally crossing the border” – two are Russian nationals and two are Albanian nationals.

In the village of Rujiste in Zubin Potok, a damaged Serb man reported a series of burglaries and theft. The victim visited his house yesterday and noticed that his door, as well as six other houses in the neighborhood, had been burglarized. Several liters of brandy, tools and furniture were stolen from the victim.

At Anri Dinan Street in northern Mitrovica, a Serb woman reported that she was mentally and physically abused, and that she was threatened by a Serb man over the phone.

In addition to arson, the Leposavic police station also reported two unauthorized border crossings yesterday.

Both illegal crossings were reported in the village of Sarpelj in Leposavic, one in the morning when two Russian nationals were arrested. According to the report, they crossed the border illegally in a car of Montenegrin license plates. Both Russian nationals are in custody and their car was confiscated.

The second illegal crossing, also via Sarpelj village, was recorded around 8pm yesterday. On that occasion, two Albanian nationals were arrested and later detained by decision of the prosecutor.

New Insajder show on the murder of Oliver Ivanovic: (Not) a perfect crime (Insajder, N1)

Neither Belgrade nor Pristina have revealed in two years who killed Oliver Ivanovic. Belgrade blames Albanians, Pristina – Serbs. Pre-trial proceedings in Serbia are still ongoing while the prosecution in Pristina filed an indicted last December. The indictment of the Kosovo prosecutor’s office, reached by Insajder’s reporters, states that behind the murder of Ivanovic stands a criminal group controlled by one of Kosovo Serbs – Milan Radoicic.

“During the investigative phase and the gathering of material evidence for the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, we believe that the killing was carried out of political motives and by a criminal group organized and run by Milan Radoicic,” the indictment reads.

Radoicic has not been indicted because, under Kosovo law, this is not possible until the suspect is formally questioned. More specifically, no absentee trial is allowed.

Four police officers from northern Kosovo have been charged. The Kosovo prosecution believes that it has evidence that the very top of Kosovo police from the north of Kosovo operated under Radoicic’s order.

What is confusing in the investigation and indictment of the Kosovo prosecution is  that the charges have been mixed all the time for the murder of Oliver Ivanovic and acts of organized crime, which have nothing to do with the murder and are suspected to have been committed years before the murder. Thus, Zvonko Veselinovic is cited that as the organizer of the criminal group without being linked to the murder of Ivanovic. The court in Pristina ordered international warrants for Radoicic , on suspicion related to the murder of Oliver Ivanovic and organized crime, and for Veselinovic on suspicion of organized crime.

The indictment ultimately covers only those available to the Kosovo judiciary who are charged with assisting the perpetrator in the murder, withholding evidence, disclosure of official secrets. The secretary and closest associate of Oliver Ivanovic, Silvana Arsovic, was also accused of turning on cameras for surveillance of the party’s premises shortly after the murder. It was not explained who turned them off. 

The Kosovo prosecution even accuses the state of Serbia of controlling an organized crime group. From the mere listing of material evidence, the list of witnesses, four of whom are protected, their allegations and those of the prosecution, it is not clear whether and what evidence the prosecution disposes of when it comes to the murder of Oliver Ivanovic.

After months of investigation, Insajder’s show (Not) Perfect Crime will be aired on TV N1 regional broadcaster on Thursday. The brother of the murdered Oliver Ivanovic, his lawyer, closest associates and connoisseurs of Kosovo, will speak in the Insajder’s TV show.

Von der Leyen: Next six months crucial for both EU and Western Balkans (N1)

The President of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday that the next six months would be essential for both the European Union and the Western Balkans countries aspiring to join the bloc, N1 reported. She added that the EC would draft a new enlargement strategy in the next few weeks.

Von der Leyen warned that if the EU-Western Balkans Summit was to be successful, Brussels had to do its homework.

“The next six months are crucial for the EU – Western Balkans relations. Croatia knows better than others what the power of the European perspective means. That’s the issue of whether you have a real perspective,” she said.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said he hoped that the Zagreb Summit would send a message to the partners in the South-Eastern Europe countries which, as he put it, “are in kind of the European entrance hall.”

“If you continue with reforms and meet all the criteria, your European perspective won’t be questioned, and you will be welcomed,” he said. 

Belgrade says it expects Zagreb to support the process of enlargement. Croatia presides the EU in the first six months of 2020.

See at: https://bit.ly/2NqO6P9

 

International

 

Kosovo-Albania future: the many ‘but-s’ that follow the idea of unification (Tirana Times)

As political relations between Albania and Kosovo, tied historically by a common language, culture and national identity, are becoming more and more complex, the Kosovo Foundation for Open Society and the Open Society Foundation for Albania completed an extensive research at the end of 2018 in both countries to measure the interaction and attitude of citizens in a range of important matters, especially for the people on the ground.

https://bit.ly/36NRDih

Kosovo President May Seek Court Advice Over Political Stalemate (Balkan Insight)

As frustration continues to mount in Kosovo over the slow pace of forming a government, President Hashim Thaci has said he may call on the country’s top court to set out the options.

After Albin Kurti, leader of the winning Vetevendosje party, in the October 2019 snap elections again refused to name a possible prime minister, President Hashim Thaci has written back that he might ask the Constitutional Court of Kosovo to clarify the constitutional and legal position.

“The constitutional responsibility of the President is to make the institutions functional … and he is obliged to take all necessary steps to fulfill this obligation, not excluding requests addressed to the Constitutional Court to clarify any constitutional and legal ambiguities, in order to enable the functionalization of new institutions as soon as possible,” Thaci’s office said on Monday.

Referring to Thaci’s letter on January 10, again seeking a prime ministerial nomination, Kurti accused President Thaci of threatening him. His message “constitutes interference and prejudice to institution building and [is] a threatening warning, in this case to the winning subject [of the elections],” Kurti declared.

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

Return to Kosovo: The Serbs Who Re-Embraced Their Hometown (Balkan Insight)

A handful of Serbs have returned to live in Prizren in Kosovo after fleeing at the end of the war in 1999 – but while there is no more threat of violence, the returnees have found themselves struggling to survive economically.

When Ljubisa Jevtic travels from Serbia to his home in the Kosovo city of Prizren, he has to convince people that the city is a safe place for him as a Serb.

“When I say I’m heading to Prizren, they say goodbye to me as if we will never see each other ever again, as if I will never return,” Jevtic said.

Jevtic thinks these widespread fears are kept alive by the Serbian media.

“It’s a psychosis that’s remained in some people from 1999,” he said. “The press fills people’s heads with this stuff to say Kosovo is such-and-such a place, and then people are scared to come. I’ve been here in Prizren a hundred times and up until now I’ve never had any sort of problem!”

But in the recent past, Prizren has not always been such a problem-free place for Serbs. Out of a pre-war population of around 10,000 Serbs, Jevtic is one of only about 20 who returned after the conflict to live in the city today.

See at: https://bit.ly/30qHFRG

Paralysis in Pristina: poll winners struggle to form coalition govt (RFI, AFP)

Kosovans voted for change last October but are still waiting to see it — the politicians who were supposed to oust the old guard have been unable to forge a coalition, raising fears of fresh, destabilising elections.

The victory of two opposition parties on October 6 was hailed as a turning point for small Kosovo, with the winners meant to turf out the former guerillas who have dominated politics since the former Serbian province declared independence in 2008.

But months of horse-trading over how to divvy up government posts have yet to produce a handshake between the two camps.

See at: https://bit.ly/386Vze2

 

Humanitarian/ Development

 

‘The rapist is you:’ Kosovo joins global anti-violence movement (Prishtina Insight)

A group of Kosovo activists will join thousands of women around the world who have been chanting and stomping blindfolded outside government buildings, challenging men to consider their role in institutionalized violence against women under the slogan: ‘The rapist is you!’

https://bit.ly/2Nk8jpZ

 

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