•Mustafa: We must clarify agreement issue until end of the week (RTK)
•“Country will not go to polls if the first designate fails” (RTK)
•Prishtinë/Pristina-Belgrade airline agreement questions Kosovo’s statehood (Gazeta Express & KTV)
•IMC aims to ban media reporting from courts (KTV)
•EU High Representative Borrell to visit Kosovo next week (GazetaExpress)
•Vucic: Kosovo taxes unsustainable, solution after Pristina forms government (N1)
•Reactions from Belgrade and Srpska Lista on BG-PR flight deal (Kossev)
•Muhaxheri optimistic that VV will accept LDK’s offer for forming the Government (Summary of KTV Rubicon show)
Mustafa: We must clarify agreement issue until end of the week
LDK chairperson Isa Mustafa said they are still open to reaching an agreement with the Vetëvendosje Movement.
“We remain committed to working for an agreement, but an agreement that respects the will of citizens in last October’s elections,” Mustafa said.
“We will respect this and we think that the agreement should highlight a balanced government and balanced responsibilities between the two parties, in harmony with the trust that the citizens of Kosovo have given us with their vote – to us with 28 MPs and Vetëvendosje with 29 MPs,” he highlighted.
In a statement to the media after LDK’s chairmanship meeting, Mustafa said that by the end of the week it should be definitively clarified whether there will be an agreement with Vetëvendosje Movement.
“We have put forward a proposal that we considered to be very balanced and that we think Vetëvendosje should look at with special attention,” Mustafa stated.
“We remain open to sit down and discuss, but this discussion of ours to come to an end as soon as possible – possibly by the end of this week in order to reach the agreement or conclude that there are no conditions for the agreement to be reached,” Mustafa underlined.
“We remain in these positions, but still willing to conclude an agreement that is at the benefit the citizens,” he ended.
“Country will not go to polls if the first designate fails”
The President of the country Hashim Thaçi has the full discretion to give the mandate for formation of the Government of Kosovo, in case Albin Kurti fails as the first designate, for the second time to whomever he thinks he may have the votes of majority of members in the Assembly of Kosovo.
This issue has been clarified by the Constitutional Court’s decision on July 1, 2014 and the country will not go to the polls if the first PM designate fails to form the new Government, RTK quotes Lajmi.net portal as reporting.
In case the proposed candidate for Prime Minister does not receive the necessary votes, according to this decision of the Constitutional Court, President of the Republic, in his/her discretion, on the basis of Article 95, paragraph 4 of the Constitution, shall nominate the other candidate for Prime Minister, after consultation with parties or coalitions (registered in accordance with the Law on General Elections) that have met the abovementioned criteria. So, with a party or coalition that is registered as an electoral entity in accordance with the Law on General Elections, which has its name on the ballot paper, which took part in the elections and passed the threshold.
However, point (e) of this decision states very clearly that the President may decide to give the opportunity to anyone and it places the emphasis on the other parties, while in the secondary role also mentions that the President may also decide to give the opportunity again the first party or coalition.
Prishtinë/Pristina-Belgrade airline agreement questions Kosovo’s statehood
(Gazeta Express & KTV)
Kosovo’s statehood is questioned on the document that has been signed by the Kosovo side in Berlin on a direct airline between Prishtinë/Pristina and Belgrade.
At the beginning of the letter, which has been signed by Kosovo with three other parties, the Civil Aviation Authority of Kosovo is called Civil Aviation Authority in Kosovo.
Summarised in less than two pages, the document which was signed in Berlin, and which Kohavision is in possession of, in fact is an agreement amongst four institutions: Lufthansa air company, Prishtinë/Pristina International Airport, KFOR, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Kosovo.
This implies that the Kosovo and Serbian authorities have signed two different, specific letters on their jobs.
It speaks about establishment of a special line between Prishtinë/Pristina and Belgrade, while terms ‘state’ have not been included.
Moreover, term ‘ASHNA’, which stands for the State Navigation Agency, also has not been included; instead, it has been mentioned only as the Air Traffic Unit, a term which was used before Kosovo got its statehood.
Further, the agreement says that the Kosovo institutions, in line with the Agreement on the special line, shall allow EuroWings and transporters of Lufthansa Group to present flight plans, by using ICAO code of BKPR for services between Prishtinë/Pristina and Belgrade.
In addition, it states that the services shall include that passengers shall be subject to all procedures, pursuant to the freedom of movement agreement and the IBM agreement, reached in the Belgrade-Prishtinë/Pristina dialogue.
This implies that the line passengers will be able to travel with identity cards like at any border crossing between the two states, as this is provided by the freedom of movement agreement reached in Brussels.
The agreement says that the Civil Aviation Authority of Kosovo and the Prishtinë/Pristina Airport have agreed that services between Belgrade and Prishtinë/Pristina and the other way around, shall operate free of any extra tax or payment.
The agreement also mentions the possibility of using double codes.
At the end of the letter, it is mentioned that the Civil Aviation Authority in Kosovo and KFOR shall make an agreement, which ensures enforcement of this line, reiterating the authority of KFOR over the air space.
In the meantime, GazetaExpress published facsimile of the “letter of intent” on opening of Prishtinë/Pristina-Belgrade air route. The letter is available at the following links: https://www.gazetaexpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Screenshot_2-1-2.jpg and https://www.gazetaexpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Screenshot_3-1-1.jpg
IMC aims to ban media reporting from courts
With self-initiative, the Independent Media Commission (IMC) has started revision of two important documents: Regulation on Protection of Children, and Code of Ethics.
On its website, IMC has published drafts of those documents. In the Code of Ethics, the most changes have been proposed in Article 7, which deals with individual rights.
One of the added points is point 11, which would prohibit the media to publish identity, image, or specific information of crime suspected persons, unless court has issued a final judgment about them.
This prohibition existed in the 2010 Media Code of Conduct, but it was dropped in 2016, in its latest amendment, thus allowing reporting from court hearings.
The IMC Chief Executive Officer Luan Latifi says that the need to revise the Code came as a consequence of the cases of possible violations that were not fully defined by the applicable Code.
Considering the proposed changes as merely cosmetic, Latifi says that the document has not been completed, and it may suffer changes.
Flutura Kusari, a media lawyer, considers the prohibition of reporting from courts unacceptable.
Kusari adds that reporting from courts is one of the fundamental rights of journalists.
The two IMC revising documents were subject to public hearing from 9th December until 30th December last year, and it is expected that IMC will soon convene to address them.
EU High Representative Borrell to visit Kosovo next week
European officials were caught by surprise after Kosovo and Serbia on Monday reached a deal to re-establish a commercial flight route under a US-brokered deal. The EU High Representative Joseph Borrell, has made the move and is expected to visit Pristina next week. Most likely he will make a stop also in Belgrade, Gazeta Express has learned.
Kosovo remains without a functional Government since Ramush Haradinaj resigned as prime minister in July 2019 after he was summoned as a suspect by the Hague-based Specialist Prosecutor’s Office to be questioned for his role as wartime commander. Three months after elections took place, the Vetevendosje as winner of elections has failed to create a government and is lacking majority in parliament. Under current political stalemate the EU has halted efforts to resume the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.
The newly appointed EU foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell has announced a visit to Kosovo, and stated that the Western Balkans remains at the top of his agenda, however, he kept postponing his promise after Kosovo was left without a functional Government.
But sources told Gazeta Express that Joseph Borrell will visit Kosovo next week. Borrell’s visit comes amidst intensive talks of the Vetevendosje and Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) to reach a deal and form new institutions after the president Hashim Thaci has mandated Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti to form new Government. Under Kosovo’s legislation Kurti has 15 days to present his cabinet before the Parliament. It seems the European Union will not lose its pace on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue especially now after the US President Donald Trump’s special envoy on Dialogue, Richard Grenell, brokered an important deal on establishing a direct commercial flight between Pristina and Belgrade, which is considered as a first step towards resumption of the dialogue between the two countries.
Vucic: Kosovo taxes unsustainable, solution after Pristina forms government
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said in Davos at the World Economic Forum 50th meeting that the existence of Kosovo’s import taxes on goods from Serbia and Bosnia were unsustainable and that issue would be tackled after Pristina formed a new government, the Beta news agency reported on Tuesday.
He added that without the tariffs, Serbia would have had the GDP growth of 4.3 or 4.4. percent, the highest in Europe, instead of four and 4.1 percent it had.
Nevertheless, Vucic said he got congratulation for his country economic results from participants in Davos.
Serbia’s Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic said on Monday that Belgrade was losing a million Euros per month due to Pristina’s 100 percent import tax.
“I believe that it (the taxes) is unsustainable and that following the formation of the Kosovo government, a part of the problem will be solved. Whoever forms the government, it couldn’t be without the Serb List (political party supported by Belgrade which won the latest elections in the Serb-populated parts of Kosovo), and that will be one of its main demand,” Vucic said in Davos.
He added he did not have “a close encounter” with Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, but that they both took part at an informal gathering in the town in the Swiss Alps.
Vucic denied Serbia was buying offensive arms and said Belgrade was purchasing weaponry from other countries, not only from Russia.
He reaffirmed Serbia was on the European path and asked whether it could count on the EU membership if a compromise solution on Kosovo was reached. “I got no answer.”
Vucic said his meeting with the US President Donald Trump’s security advisor Robert O’Brian was friendly and honest and that he repeated that Serbia would like to host Trump.
“I told him (O’Brian) that Serbia is the only country in the region and beyond, which supported President Trump’s election,” Vucic said.
Reactions from Belgrade and Srpska Lista on BG-PR flight deal
The Serbian Ministry of Economy, the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority and Lufthansa Airlines suddenly signed a letter of intent to create a Belgrade-Pristina flight route. There was little reaction to this news yesterday, besides mutual congratulations of the participants in this process – which the public did not know was even taking place. Today, however, this news has caused controversy in the Serbian National Assembly within the opposition ranks.
During today’s national assembly session, an independent MP, Djordje Vukadinovic posed the question of whether the announcement that a Belgrade-Pristina airline would be created contains elements of a violation of the Constitution. Vukadinovic also wondered what the reason was for NATO to welcome a letter of intent to open a single airline route is, Beta news agency reports.
On the other hand, MP Aleksandar Seselj linked this news with the „little Schengen“ initiative. He then proceeded to call for the withdrawal from this initiative because, in his words, this agreement is a way for Serbia to eventually recognize Kosovo.
„As part of this (agreement), we will have a direct Belgrade-Pristina line, and we do not know how it was understood as being in the citizen’s interest. First of all, it was announced that there will be no continuation of dialogue until the taxes are abolished – and now we will not continue the dialogue, but we will deliver everything they ask for,“ said Seselj, Beta reports.
Metla 2020: An unreasonable and hurtful decision by the Serb government under pressure from mentors of Kosovo’s independence
The latest agreement between Belgrade and Pristina was also criticized by the Metla 2020 movement, led by the Democratic Party of Serbia.
„US President (Donald) Trump, Special Envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue (Richard) Grenell, US National Security Advisor (Robert) O’Brien, and NATO Secretary General (Jens) Stoltenberg had a good reason to call the signing of a letter of intent with Lufthansa on the re-establishment of a Belgrade-Pristina direct line as another victory,“ they wrote in a statement.
The statement also said that „this is another victory of those who treat the self-proclaimed Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state and stand for its full international recognition, was made possible by the Serbian Government.“
Djilas: Why not Air Serbia; Vucic: Those people do not understand a thing
One of the leaders of the Alliance for Serbia, Dragan Djilas, also reacted to the news. Although describing the opening of the flight route as a “good thing,” Djilas also criticized the agreement itself, as well as the fact that Serbia continued negotiations with Pristina event though the taxes are still in force.
„It’s a good thing that a flight to Pristina exists. The bad thing is the fact that Air Serbia is not the one piloting that flight but Lufthansa because this essentially (but not formally) makes it seem that we have accepted that Pristina is not a city in Serbia. It is unnecessary to talk about him lying again and negotiating with Pristina even though the taxes were not abolished,“ Djilas tweeted yesterday.
Vucic responded to Djilas’ allegations from Davos last night:
„It is impossible for Air Serbia to do that – not because Albanians do not want it. Albanians want it more than anyone else, because Air Serbia would have to sign all the documents with the state of Kosovo. Imagine how frivolous like Djilas you must be (to say this) because Air Serbia would have to sign a contract with Adem Jashari airport, it would have to sign a contract with the Kosovo state, we have to break free. We would thus acknowledge that the lower air layer is no longer under our control.“
He also revealed that the negotiations took a long while, as „the struggle with the Albanians was difficult for several months“, including for KFOR to mediate the process.
Finally, the Serbian president sent a message to the opposition in Serbia: „They do not understand a thing.“
Trajkovic: Vucic will give Kosovo to abolish the taxes as Haradinaj wanted
The president of the European Movement of Kosovo Serbs, Rada Trajkovic also criticized the suddenness and non-transparency of the first agreement reached between Kosovo and Serbia after a two-year long hiatus.
„Aleksandar Vucic and Ana Brnabic continue to privatize negotiations and sign ‘agreements’ on our behalf behind closed doors. The introduction of Kosovo taxes appears to have blocked negotiations in Brussels but not Grenell’s negotiations in Berlin. What is the point of principle when the survival of power is in question,“ Trajkovic tweeted, later adding that Vucic, judging by „him avoiding the EU in the negotiation process, would give Kosovo to abolish the taxes, just as the Haradinaj government, backed by Srpska Lista, had wanted.“
Milun Trivunac, secretary of state at the Serbian Ministry of Economy and Eset Berisha, director of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority (AVCK), signed the letter of intent yesterday at the US Embassy in Berlin, the Associated Press Agency reported. The signing was attended by the US ambassador to Berlin and Donald Trump’s envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, Richard Grenell, and US President Donald Trump’s adviser on national security, Robert O’Brien.
Janjic: Lesson for the EU
One of the rare positive reactions to the BG-PR flight deal arrived from analyst and director of the Forum for Ethnic Relations, Dusan Janjic. According to him, the news of reaching an agreement on launching air traffic is not a surprise, while its context is as it happened at a time when there was no dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
„That’s good news. It shows that the model that President Trump intended for Kosovo, and presented through Grenell and Palmer, functions, starting with small economic moves that are important to all people, to prepare the atmosphere for political talks. This is a demonstration of US influence and a serious lesson for the EU and its diplomacy and bureaucracy, which shows its willingness to prolong the problems for decades,” Janjic told RTV Kim.
Srpska Lista: A step towards breaking down barriers
This news was also welcomed by Srpska Lista. The largest Kosovo Serb party assessed that „the Serb people in Kosovo will only benefit from this initiative“.
„We are grateful to President Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and the head of the Kosovo Office, Marko Djuric for having the wisdom and strength to show once again, in a time characterized by political uncertainty and the deterioration of the position of the Serbian people in Kosovo, that Serbia and the Serbian people are the axes of stability of the region,“ Srpska Lista wrote in a statement, RTV Kim reported. Belgrade will be closer this way, they added.
Muhaxheri optimistic that VV will accept LDK’s offer for forming the Government
(Summary of KTV Rubicon show)
LDK Presidency Member Gazmend Muhaxheri said he was very optimistic that Vetëvendosje and Prime Minister-designate Albin Kurti will accept LDK’s offer to form the Government.
According to him, an agreement will be reached and the country will soon have a new government.
“There should and will be an agreement. I am an optimistic by nature and I think the country needs a government, especially oriented differently and to take on obligations,” Muhaxheri said.
He denied the voices that Kurti is not ready to take over Prime Minister’s duty.
“The very fact that he received the mandate shows that he has overcome the doubt that he may be afraid of being a Prime Minister. Now he is in another capacity”, the Mayor of Pejë/Pec added.
Muhaxheri has said that the LDK General Council will no longer meet to discuss VV offers, but only to make agreement.
He said that everyone in the party is in favour of the coalition with Vetëvendosje, while adding that there are differences in nuances within the members regarding the position of a coalition with this party.
He also said that party’s deputy chairman, Agim Veliu, who held different positions from Vjosa Osmani, who was in favour of the coalition, is also in favour of the coalition with VV.
According to him, if no agreement is reached with VV within the week, LDK will move to opposition.
LDK Presidency member Gazmend Muhaxheri said that the two key figures of Vetëvendosje Movement, Albin Kurti and Glauk Konjufca, will reflect on LDK’s offer, there will be a new government of the country as of tomorrow.
In KTV’s Rubicon show, Muhaxheri said that if VV agrees that LDK should have the Assembly Speaker in the first year until the President is elected, “it is very easy to form the government.”
“We are in favour of the coalition, in favour of respecting the vote. What has become very clear is that LDK has no B option. There is an option to give the country a government, a dignified government that respects the citizens’ vote, vote for the LDK, for dignified representation in government. It is up to the PM designate to reflect on giving this country hope for new and good governance, and to implement the processes that await it. We have made it clear that we send principles to the General Council not political letters or pamphlets. We have demanded to set principles. The principle was that LDK should have one of three representative positions, the Assembly Speaker or the President. We have made a generous offer for the Speaker to belong to LDK for a year and when the President is elected, the Speaker’s mandate will be returned to VV. In order to reach an agreement, the PM designate is obliged both by votes and by the mandate he has received to create governance. He has the alternative. We are not saying that Konjufca should be dismissed, he may resign and take up other posts. We have not voted for the Pope, but for a Speaker that can be changed. Practice has shown that he can be changed,” Muhaxheri underlined.
According to him, this is the most direct option to form a government as of tomorrow.
“If the designate has taken seriously the task of forming the government, he has the agreement with LDK,” he said, adding that one cannot communicate through video messages.
According to him, “unilateral actions of Vetëvendosje have led to the situation we are in”.