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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 20, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Vetevendosje proposes Albin Kurti as Prime Minister nominee (Klan Kosova)
• President Thaci invites Kurti to give him PM mandate (media)
• Kurti: LDK’s message ‘take it or leave it’, means leave it (media)
• Kurti needs to form a new government by February 4 (Indeksonline)
• Haxhiu: Time for LDK to prove it wants the change (media)
• LDK: Despite unilateral moves by LVV, we are open to agreement (Telegrafi)
• Pristina-Belgrade air route to be launched in the near future (Gazeta Express)
• Thaci hails initiative for launch of Pristina-Belgrade flights (Kallxo)
• Stoltenberg: KFOR retains authority over Kosovo airspace (Koha)
• Osmani claims will for reach of the agreement with LVV exists (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• Worrying data, but for whom – Serbia or the EU? (B92, Blic)
• Russian MFA: Post-election chaos and struggle for power continue in Kosovo (KoSSev)
• Saturday protest devoted to slain Kosovo Serb leader (Beta, N1)
• Serbian trade minister says Kosovo tariffs cause one million-euro daily damages (N1, Novosti)
• Belgrade-Pristina flight to be reinstated? (B92, RTS)

International:

• Engel Presses Top Navy Admiral on United States Policy on Serbia (foreign affairs.house.gov)
• Kosovo’s Vetevendosje Party Nominates Leader Kurti For PM (RFE)
• Serbs Say Air Link May Reopen With Kosovo Two Decades After War (Bloomberg)
• Statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on direct flights between Belgrade and Pristina (nato.int)
• US brokers prospective flights between Serbia, Kosovo (The Washington Post)

Humanitarian/Development:

• BIRN Fact-check: The Air We Breathe (Balkan Insight)
• The World’s 2,153 Billionaires Are Richer Than 4.6 Billion People, Says Oxfam (Bloomberg)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Vetevendosje proposes Albin Kurti as Prime Minister nominee (Klan Kosova)
  • President Thaci invites Kurti to give him PM mandate (media)
  • Kurti: LDK’s message ‘take it or leave it’, means leave it (media)
  • Kurti needs to form a new government by February 4 (Indeksonline)
  • Haxhiu: Time for LDK to prove it wants the change (media)
  • LDK: Despite unilateral moves by LVV, we are open to agreement (Telegrafi)
  • Pristina-Belgrade air route to be launched in the near future (Gazeta Express)
  • Thaci hails initiative for launch of Pristina-Belgrade flights (Kallxo)
  • Stoltenberg: KFOR retains authority over Kosovo airspace (Koha)
  • Osmani claims will for reach of the agreement with LVV exists (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Worrying data, but for whom – Serbia or the EU? (B92, Blic)
  • Russian MFA: Post-election chaos and struggle for power continue in Kosovo (KoSSev)
  • Saturday protest devoted to slain Kosovo Serb leader (Beta, N1)
  • Serbian trade minister says Kosovo tariffs cause one million-euro daily damages (N1, Novosti)
  • Belgrade-Pristina flight to be reinstated? (B92, RTS)

International:

  • Engel Presses Top Navy Admiral on United States Policy on Serbia (foreign affairs.house.gov)
  • Kosovo’s Vetevendosje Party Nominates Leader Kurti For PM (RFE)
  • Serbs Say Air Link May Reopen With Kosovo Two Decades After War (Bloomberg)
  • Statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on direct flights between Belgrade and Pristina (nato.int)
  • US brokers prospective flights between Serbia, Kosovo (The Washington Post)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • BIRN Fact-check: The Air We Breathe (Balkan Insight)
  • The World’s 2,153 Billionaires Are Richer Than 4.6 Billion People, Says Oxfam (Bloomberg)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Vetevendosje proposes Albin Kurti as Prime Minister nominee (Klan Kosova)

The news website claims to have secured a copy of a proposal that the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) has sent to Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, proposing LVV leader Albin Kurti as the Prime Minister nominee. The news website notes that the proposal comes after several calls by President Thaci to form the new institutions.

President Thaci invites Kurti to give him PM mandate (media)

Several news outlets report that immediately after receiving the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) proposal, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci has invited LVV leader and candidate for Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, to a meeting today at noon to give him the mandate as Prime Minister.

Kurti: LDK’s message ‘take it or leave it’, means leave it (media)

Leader of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) Albin Kurti, explained through a video-message that LVV has submitted a letter about the decision for the nominee to form the government of Kosovo, without reaching an agreement with the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

He said this decision was not sent until today, as they were waiting for the reach of the agreement to co-govern with Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

“I went at the constitutive meeting of the Assembly on 26 December without having an agreement, I also went at the President’s on 6 January without a previous agreement, and now, two weeks after that meeting, we still do not have an agreement for the new government,” Kurti said.

Kurti once again called through this video on LDK to reach agreement even though LVV was the latest to reject proposals made by Isa Mustafa’s political entity.

“We are sending today our written proposal to the President. Our organizing secretary, Vlora Haxhimehmedi will submit it.

We have not received a final proposal from LDK leaders however we have demonstrated to be very ready for further meetings with the aim of finding other alternatives that would be acceptable for both parties.

I will stress it once again: there cannot be return in the past, we cannot return in 2019. They did not accept our latest proposal, even though differently from the agreement, they did not discuss it at all at their General Council. The position ‘we will only meet for the ceremony of signing of the agreement,’ so, the approach “take it or leave it,’ means leave it.

I believe that we can return, and it is our obligation towards all of you to return to the table of discussions and not go out until a common language and reach of an agreement is reached.

“We as Vetevendosje have taken the mandate to form the government that you want, and that the country urgently needs. No more no less.

We have started by liberating leadership of the Assembly from being captured: Pronto Assembly Speaker who used to swear and threaten from the pulpit is not there anymore, the new Speaker, Glauk Konjufca is instead.

I believe that we can and should return to the table of discussions.

I will also meet representatives of the minorities in the following days.

Thank you and goodbye,” Kurti said.  

Kurti needs to form a new government by February 4 (Indeksonline)

Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) leader Albin Kurti, mandated to form the new government of the Republic of Kosovo, has 15 days to form a coalition with other political parties and ensure enough votes in parliament for the new government. The news website notes that Kurti needs to present a government for a parliamentary vote by February 4 and that after this period Kosovo President Hashim Thaci can mandate another candidate to form the new government.

Haxhiu: Time for LDK to prove it wants the change (media)

Albulena Haxhiu, MP from Vetevendosje Movement (LVV), said the nominee for the future prime minister of Kosovo is Albin Kurti as the most voted candidate in 6 October parliamentary elections.

“No later than 15 days, our candidate should present before the Assembly the composition of the Government. The coming days are an ideal opportunity to take an historic decision in accordance to the will of the citizens. We have made many compromises to fulfil the will of the citizens expressed on 6 October. It is time for LDK to show whether it truly wants the change,” Haxhiu said on Facebook.

LDK: Despite unilateral moves by LVV, we are open to agreement (Telegrafi)

Avdullah Hoti from the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) chairmanship said they remain open to a coalition agreement with Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) despite the party’s decision to nominate its leader Albin Kurti for the future prime minister of Kosovo.

“The fate of the agreement is in LVV’s hands. Despite the unilateral move on 26 December 2019 and the long letter with inadequate and unnecessary categorisations we received last week, we remain open to an agreement. LVV should take over the responsibility for creation of new institutions in line with the Constitution,” Hoti said.

He underlined that LDK has already made concessions to pave way for an agreement. “We have expressed readiness to work together. We have negotiated with them a governing programme for three weeks in a row. We have made three compromises to achieve an agreement. This is now in their hands.” 

Pristina-Belgrade air route to be launched in near future (Gazeta Express)

German airline Lufthansa has informed Kosovo authorities that it will begin operating flights between Pristina and Belgrade in a very near future, Gazeta Express reports.

In a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Ambassador Richard Grenell and Lufthansa representatives submitted a letter to the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority asking Kosovo authorities to provide necessary support in operating the flights.  

General Director of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority, Eset Berisha, said this is a step forward in Kosovo institutions’ efforts to normalise Kosovo airspace and “open air corridors with all surrounding countries.” “This establishes contact between two civil aviation authorities, that of Kosovo and Serbia, as equal partners,” Berisha said.  

Gazeta Express hails the news as the first breakthrough of the U.S. Special Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Richard Grenell. 

Thaci hails initiative for launch of Pristina-Belgrade flights (Kallxo)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci has welcomed the initiative for direct flights between Pristina and Belgrade being launched, a move he said would facilitate freedom of movement and normalisation of relations. 

“I welcome the letter of intent b/w #Kosovo & @lufthansa to open an air route between #Prishtina & #Belgrade. This is an important step for the movement of citizens & normalization process. Grateful to Nat. Sec. Advisor O’Brien & @RichardGrenell for facilitating the process,” Thaci wrote on Twitter. 

Stoltenberg: KFOR retains authority over Kosovo airspace (Koha)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has commented on the initiative of direct flights between Belgrade and Pristina being established in the coming period. 

“I welcome the intention by Eurowings and the Lufthansa Group to establish direct flights between Belgrade and Pristina, based on the letters of intent signed today in Berlin.

This is an important step, which will make the circulation of people and goods easier and faster within the Western Balkans region.

The Commander of our KFOR mission retains the authority in the airspace over Kosovo, according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. And NATO will remain involved through the long-standing Balkans Aviation Normalisation Meeting process, which we lead,” he said in a statement issued today.

Osmani claims will for reach of the agreement with LVV exists (RTK)

Deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Vjosa Osmani said will for the reach of an agreement with the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) exists and that these two weeks after Kurti’s nomination should be used to reach the agreement and not to blame each other. 

“LDK’s position was made clear during the past days, it was confirmed both by us as part of the LDK structures and by the leader of the LDK that there is will to reach agreement with Vetevendosje, now that we have official nomination of the candidate for the prime minister and the deadline is determined by the Constitution of the country.“

“What I appeal for is to use maximally the two next weeks for the reach of the agreement and not to blame each other. I believe that the 6 October will of the citizens was very clear and all the disagreements that divided us should be left aside and the following days should be used maximally and with mutual respect for the reach of the agreement which would make both parties feel represented, in accordance with the votes of the citizens on 6 October.”

“The agreement can be reached only if there is clear will from both sides and only if there is readiness to reach a compromise where both parties feel willing to join the coalition. We need to invest on regaining trust, sit at the table with mutual respect and based on the political power that one or the other side represents, as well as based on the votes that we received on 6 October. 

I believe that this will exists and now is the time for this will to implement as there is no reason for delay. We engaged to move PAN in opposition, and we should leave them in opposition where they are,” she said. 

According to her, video-messages posted by Kurti are not the right approach for the reach of the agreement. 

“I do not believe that this approach helps reach of the agreement. Parties should sit with the aim of finding a compromise in which both parties understand that they are building the future of Kosovo.” 

She further said that they will soon gather their structures adding however that she does not know what the final decision would be and if they would vote a minority government of LVV.

She also said that it is not true that they discussed division of boards among the two political entities. 

 Serbian Language Media

 

Worrying data, but for whom – Serbia or the EU? (B92, Blic)

In the last three years, research of the Faktor Plus showed that support of Serbian citizens for joining the EU has been declining, Belgrade-based daily Blic reports.

It is explained that Brexit, French President Emmanuel Macron who said he was not in favor of enlargement, along with the Kosovo issue, had contributed to the decrease of the support for the EU membership.

The newspaper reports that in 2019, 38 percent of respondents thought we should not enter the EU, only 35 percent were in favor of it, and as many as 27 percent did not have an opinion.

Political turbulences in Europe, a burning issue of Kosovo and Metohija or something else, nevertheless, the interest of Serbian citizens for the EU accession has been declining for a decade, and for the last three years it has been at its lowest since the 1990s, Blic further notes.

Faktor Plus Agency Director Vladimir Pejic said the greatest interest in joining the European Union existed from 2000 to 2005, and that the first decline in confidence came from the secession of Montenegro and then in 2008 with the declaration of Kosovo independence, which greatly affected the EU’s worsening rating in Serbia.

It is not a drastic difference today compared to a few years ago, but citizens are less supportive of accession than ever, Pejic says. He added that in 2017, with the different accession years offered, 36 percent of citizens thought it would happen after 2024, with a third had opinion it would never happen.

2018 survey found that only 1 percent of respondents thought Serbia would enter the EU in 2025, and only 19 percent thought it would be likely by 2030, while 33 percent thought it would never happen.

The 2019 survey has brought even more support to the answer – never, 36 percent of respondents thought that, while 17 percent believed it could happen by 2030, Blic daily said.

See at: https://bit.ly/2v5Uoxv

Russian MFA: Post-election chaos and struggle for power continue in Kosovo (KoSSev)

Post-election chaos and struggle for power continue in Kosovo, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) assessed, describing victory of Self-determination Movement as a victory of “nationalists with radical views“, KoSSev portal reports.

The plans to create Kosovo army pose a serious threat to regional security, the MFA further warned. It also briefly spoke about Bondsteel and the Special Court in the Hague.

Currently, there is no address on the Kosovo side which has a mandate to continue the dialogue with Belgrade – the MFA added.

“Dialogue under the auspices of the European Union has not been functioning for a long time. The EU’s potential for mediation is largely devalued. Brussels has long been unable to influence Kosovo and force them to take a reasonably constructive approach in negotiations with Serbia,“ the ministry underlined.

See at: https://bit.ly/30AIRC5

Saturday protest devoted to slain Kosovo Serb leader (Beta, N1)

The organizers of the 1 in 5 Million protest devoted this Saturday’s gathering to the assassinated Kosovo Serb opposition leader Oliver Ivanovic, playing recordings of his interviews instead of the customary speeches.

The protest march, headed by protesters carrying a banner saying There Are More Of Us, ended up in front of the St Sava temple where protesters lit candles in memory of Ivanovic, two days after a memorial service in that church was held on the anniversary of his death. That gathering was attended by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and other state officials among others.  

Ivanovic was gunned down in front of his party offices in the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica on January 16, 2018. Both the Serbian and Kosovo authorities have launched investigations, blaming each other for his murder and an alleged cover-up.  

The organizers of the protest decided not to allow any speeches out of respect for Ivanovic, choosing instead to play recordings of his interviews, including one in which he said: “They have done everything they could to me, the only thing they haven’t done is shoot me, but who knows, that can’t be excluded”.  

The crowd included Ivanovic’s brother Miroslav and opposition Alliance for Serbia leaders Zoran Lutovac (Democratic Party leader), Nebojsa Zelenovic (Mayor of the city of Sabac), Borko Stefanovic (Party of Freedom and Justice) and Nikola Jovanovic (People’s Party).

https://bit.ly/3aqrgRN

Serbian trade minister says Kosovo tariffs cause one million-euro daily damages (N1, Novosti, B92)

Serbian Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic told Monday’s edition of Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti that Serbian economy is losing more than a million euro a day because of 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods imposed by the authorities in Kosovo.

“The economy is losing a million and 39,000 euro a day,” Ljajic said, adding that the total value of trade lost in the 14 months since the tariffs were imposed stands at 435 million euro. The minister also said the biggest losses were incurred in the food industry.

Ljajic also opined it would take some sort of “Dayton” (talks and peace agreement that ended the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina) to resolve the Kosovo issue.

Asked if he thinks his idea of a three-stage solution to the issue of Kosovo and a new Dayton seems utopian, primarily because of Pristina’s hardline position, Ljajic told Novosti that “from this point of view, every solution seems utopian, for several reasons”.

“First of all, there is still no new government in Pristina and at this moment, it is difficult to say whether we are closer to a new election or a new government. Secondly, according to the statements of the main political actors from Pristina, there is no minimum readiness for any kind of compromise. The international community is acting as if it doesn’t even know what to do with it, let alone deal more seriously with the Kosovo issue”, Ljajic pointed out.

According to him, without the EU, the United States, but also without China and Russia, as permanent members of the Security Council, it is difficult to expect a viable solution to this issue. “And that is why I think some sort of new ‘Dayton’ will be needed whenever this issue comes up on the agenda”, he added.

When asked whether it is worth negotiating at all when they openly state from America that the ultimate goal is mutual recognition, Ljajic responded:

“What would be the alternative, then? The frozen conflict? Here everyone expected that after Trump’s election victory, the US attitude toward Kosovo’s independence would change dramatically. Did that happen? No. Probably the approach to negotiations and possible solutions have changed, but the essential relationship of the administration has not changed”, he said.

“That is why we have proposed that stage-by-stage solution to the Kosovo issue, aware of its gravity and complexity, and literally going from easier to more difficult issues, because this problem will not disappear by pretending it does not exist. At the same time, I am afraid that we will realize that it is futile to wait for the US or a large number of EU countries to change their stance on Kosovo independence and then start negotiations. That is why it is better to have a proactive role and constantly offer dialogue, while also talking to our international partners”, Ljajic underlined. 

Belgrade-Pristina flight to be reinstated? (B92, RTS)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric said a letter of intent will be signed today in Berlin between the Serbian Ministry of Economy and Lufthansa air carrier, B92 reports.

According to him, this would enable reinstating the flight between Belgrade and Pristina after two decades. Djuric further told RTS this could happen after the tariffs on the goods from central Serbia are revoked and the dialogue continued, adding that cancellation of the tariffs is also a precondition for the latter to happen.

Signing the letter of intent would represent a first symbolic step in direction of reinstating the flight between Belgrade and Pristina, after 20 years, he noted.

“By doing this, in addition to 12 bus lines connecting Belgrade and Pristina on a regular basis, in the future we might have a flight, bringing the capital of our southern province closer to Belgrade,” Djuric said.

Djuric also said that Belgrade authorities will officially inform UNMIK and KFOR about this intent, recalling that based on UN SC Resolution 1244 and Military-Technical agreement they are responsible to control and coordinate, on behalf of Serbia, the aerial space of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija.

“This flight could come into life the very moment the tariffs are revoked and the dialogue continued,” Djuric said, adding he expects good news from Berlin in this regard.

International

 

Engel Presses Top Navy Admiral on United States Policy on Serbia (foreign affairs.house.gov)

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today wrote to the Commander of United States Naval Forces in Europe about his recent interview addressing United States policy toward Serbia. Citing a recent Department of Defense report, Engel raised concerns that Admiral James Foggo’s recent comments did not fully reflect U.S. policy toward Serbia.

See more at: https://bit.ly/30H7s8m

Kosovo’s Vetevendosje Party Nominates Leader Kurti For PM (RFE)

Kosovo’s Self-Determination Movement (Vetevendosje), the party that won most votes in October parliamentary elections, has nominated its leader, Albin Kurti, for the post of prime minister.

Vetevendosje informed President Hashim Thaci of its decision in a letter on January 20.

https://bit.ly/2ueqXsA

Serbs Say Air Link May Reopen With Kosovo Two Decades After War (Bloomberg)

Two decades after a war split them apart and created one of the biggest national rivalries in Europe, Serbia and Kosovo may be taking a step toward potentially renewing flights between their capitals.

The Economy Ministry in Belgrade will sign an agreement in Berlin Monday with Deutsche Lufthansa AG that will put in place some technical conditions for flights to resume, Marko Djuric, Serbia’s official in charge of relations with Kosovo, told state TV.

https://bloom.bg/2uZ2xUe

Statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on direct flights between Belgrade and Pristina (nato.int)

I welcome the intention by Eurowings and the Lufthansa Group to establish direct flights between Belgrade and Pristina, based on the letters of intent signed today in Berlin.

This is an important step, which will make the circulation of people and goods easier and faster within the Western Balkans region.

The Commander of our KFOR mission retains the authority in the airspace over Kosovo, according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. And NATO will remain involved through the long-standing Balkans Aviation Normalisation Meeting process, which we lead.

https://bit.ly/3atkrir

US brokers prospective flights between Serbia, Kosovo (The Washington Post)

U.S. diplomats on Monday oversaw the signing of an agreement between Serbia, Kosovo and German airline Lufthansa on the resumption of commercial flights intended to help improve economic ties between the Balkan nations.

Serbia and Kosovo have remained uneasy neighbors ever since their 1998-99 war that claimed more than 10,000 lives and left over 1 million people homeless.

Serbia continues to consider Kosovo part of its territory, although its independence has been recognized by about 100 countries, including the United States.

U.S. National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien said the ‘letter of intent’ signed in Berlin between representatives of the two countries marked a “historic deal,” calling commercial air links the “lifeblood of a modern economy.”

https://wapo.st/2RyysCz

 

Humanitarian/ Development

 

BIRN Fact-check: The Air We Breathe (Balkan Insight)

State authorities and unofficial apps offer often wildly different interpretations of the quality of air in the Balkans. But why?

When is unhealthy air acceptable air? In the Balkans, it depends who you believe: mobile apps or state data.

The quality of air in the region has become a hot topic since the capitals of Bosnia and Serbia, Sarajevo and Belgrade, made the top 10 in the list of most polluted cities on the planet.

See at: https://bit.ly/2sFTZAV 

The World’s 2,153 Billionaires Are Richer Than 4.6 Billion People, Says Oxfam (Bloomberg)

The world’s richest 1% have more than twice the wealth of the rest of humanity combined, according to Oxfam, which called on governments to adopt “inequality-busting policies.”

In a report published ahead of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, the U.K.-based charity said governments are “massively under-taxing” rich individuals and corporations, and under-funding public services.

Oxfam’s ‘Time to Care’ report also highlighted gender-based economic disparities, saying women and girls were burdened with disproportionate responsibility for care work and fewer economic opportunities. “Economic inequality is out of control,” with 2,153 billionaires having more wealth than 4.6 billion people in 2019, it said.

https://bloom.bg/37bhS2p

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