Albanian Language Media:
- Grenell after meeting Kurti: We discussed economic issues (Koha)
- Kurti: Economic development discussed in meeting with Grenell (media)
- Grenell reiterates after LDK meeting: Economic issues, focal for U.S. (media)
- Thaci: Fruitful meeting with Grenell on dialogue (media)
- Thaci: Ambassadors are not here to put pressure on internal affairs (media)
- Kosovo ranks 101 on TI’s corruption perception index (media)
- Haradinaj meets Andrews, talk about Kosovo-U.S. partnership (Klan)
Serbian Language Media:
- Former Pentagon official Carpenter on Kosovo issue (B92, Telegraf, Tanjug)
- NATO tells U.S. Congressman that Serbia can buy arms from whoever it wants (N1, Danas)
- Grenell to visit Belgrade on Friday (Blic, B92)
- Vucic: I appreciate Grenell’s energy, but speeding up talks with Pristina won’t go easily (BETA)
- Grenell to Thaci: Revoke tariffs to achieve progress in Belgrade-Pristina talks (N1, KoSSev)
- Vucic: Charles Michel, EC President, to organize WB leaders meeting in February (B92, Tanjug, TV Pink)
- Serbia has over 100 million euros worth projects in Kosovo (Kosovo-online, N1)
- Djuric: Belgrade-Pristina airline economic arrangement, not political dialogue (Danas, RTV)
- German and French ambassadors to Belgrade: Serbia belongs to the EU, but must meet conditions (FoNet, N1)
- Vucic: “The point is not Amfilohije, but the thesis that I will betray Kosovo” (B92, Tanjug)
- How Has the UN Mission in Kosovo Delivered on Action for Peacekeeping? (IPI Global Observatory)
- The Illusion of Russian Influence in the Western Balkans (The Globe Post)
- S. Envoy Urges Kosovo, Serbia Turn Eyes on Economy, Jobs (AP/NYT)
- Corruption Fight Faltering in Balkans, Central Europe, Transparency Says (Balkan Insight)
- Kosovo jails eight over plot to kill president and prime minister (Reuters)
- Details of Kosovo-Serbia flight deal revealed (Prishtina Insight)
- Kosovo’s wealth still buried underground (Prishtina Insight)
Albanian Language Media
Grenell after meeting Kurti: We discussed economic issues (Koha)
The U.S. Presidential Envoy, Richard Grenell, told reporters in Pristina after meeting Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) leader Albin Kurti today, that they discussed only economic issues and that he wants to “leave aside political issues”.
Grenell said he told Kurti that “the issue of forming the Kosovo government is not his issue” and that this was why he did not discuss the matter.
“We encouraged Kurti to follow the law and the issue of the tariff remains an important topic. It needs to be lifted,” Grenell was quoted as saying.
“I will say two things, I told Kurti that countries like Britain and Germany are following the situation. We told him to follow the law if he wants to achieve success. The second topic I raised were economic issues. The most important thing is that you need to create jobs. People are interested to help the economy here. The Trump administration has been very successful in improving the economy by helping businesses through the government”.
Grenell also said “I am trying to ignore politics and to focus on the economy. It is very important that if we want to be successful in the economy, the tariff must be lifted”.
Kurti: Economic development discussed in meeting with Grenell (media)
Leader of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) Albin Kurti said that economy was the focus of the meeting with the U.S. Ambassador and envoy for Kosovo-Serbia talks.
“We discussed the urgent need to focus on economic development and opening up opportunities for employment,” Kurti wrote on Twitter.
Grenell reiterates after LDK meeting: Economic issues, focal for U.S. (media)
The U.S. Special Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations Richard Grenell spoke to reporters following his meeting with the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leadership and reiterated the message that the U.S. does not want to get involved in political issues but focus on economy.
“We shared certain economic ideas to generate energy around to create new jobs,” Grenell is quoted as saying. “This starts by stopping political clashes. The U.S. wants to introduce its economic ideas, wants to bring foreign businesses to Kosovo and Serbia. Creation of new jobs will be one of the priorities for the U.S.”
Grenell called on Kosovo to lift the import tax on Serbia and on Serbia to stop campaign against Kosovo’s recognition. “These should be the next steps,” he said.
Thaci: Fruitful meeting with Grenell on dialogue (media)
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Wednesday that he had a fruitful meeting with the U.S. Presidential Envoy, Richard Grenell, who is visiting Kosovo. Thaci tweeted: “Had a fruitful meeting with @RichardGrenell to discuss the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. Thanked him for a timely visit and determination in the process. Stressed urgency of resumption of dialogue and that the role of @realDonaldTrump on reaching a final agreement is indispensable”. Grenell later commented on Thaci’s tweet saying “Thank you, Mr President. We must make progress – which includes dropping the tariffs.”
Thaci: Ambassadors are not here to put pressure on internal affairs (media)
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Wednesday that U.S. Presidential Envoy, Richard Grenell, is not visiting Kosovo to put pressure on “internal affairs”.
“I have nominated the candidate for Prime Minister. Now it is up to the parties to work and for him to find a partner to form a majority that will be then voted in parliament. Grenell is the special envoy for the normalisation of relations with Serbia. He has not come here for local and internal political issues. None of the ambassadors are here to put pressure on internal affairs. We will discuss dialogue and crucial issues for Kosovo. This visit is outside local and electoral agendas,” Thaci said.
Kosovo ranks 101 on TI’s corruption perception index (media)
Transparency International published the latest annual Corruption Perception Index with Kosovo being ranked at 101 place with 36 points.
The corruption perception index scores 180 countries and territories and highlights the relationship between politics, money and corruption. Results are shown on a scale of 0 to 100 points, with 0 being a high level and 100 being a low level of corruption.
“Kosovo is experiencing a shift in parliamentary power that could offer an opportunity for change. After years of criticising the government and international community in Kosovo for their failure to address corruption, the Self-Determination (Vetevendosje) party, which recently won a majority of parliamentary seats, has a chance to demonstrate its commitment to combating corruption,” Transparency International said in the report.
It added that during the election campaign, Vetevendosje was one of the few parties that responded to requests to disclose campaign costs adding that it remains to be seen if a new government will live up to a higher standard of political integrity. “It can do so by abandoning the usual practice of political appointments in state-owned enterprises and by establishing a strong legal obligation for financial disclosure by political parties.”
This year’s results put Kosovo on a lower position as in 2018 it was on the 93rd place with 37 points.
Haradinaj meets Andrews, talk about Kosovo-U.S. partnership (Klan)
Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj hosted today a meeting with the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Jorgen K. Andrews. They discussed partnership between Kosovo and the U.S. in the war against trafficking of narcotics, organized crime and corruption.
“I stressed that Kosovo has marked significant progress in strengthening the security sector, especially the Police, Prosecution and Courts, and that it is a righteous partner also for global operations in this field,” Haradinaj said.
“I expressed appreciation to Mr. Andrews for U.S.’s continuous unsparing help expressing readiness of our institutions toward joint responsibilities.”
“Kosovo has managed to build credible institutions and advance their profiling, thanks to the partnership with the U.S. and today, we are ready to stand by the ally countries, in ensuring peace and stability, not only for our citizens,” Haradinaj wrote on his Facebook page.
Serbian Language Media
Former Pentagon official Carpenter on Kosovo issue (B92, Telegraf, Tanjug)
“Nothing is over and nothing is ruled out, not even the change of borders when it comes to Kosovo”, Michael Carpenter, a former Pentagon official said, Tanjug news agency reports.
American Balkans expert and a former advisor and supporter of Joseph Biden, Michael Carpenter, said in an interview with the Serbian Telegraf that Washington would accept any solution agreed by Serbs and Albanians. He also pointed out that there are no red lines on this issue – everything is up to Belgrade and Pristina.
According to him, the EU, America and the UN will support a sustainable deal. He conveyed his personal view that both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress are firmly united in supporting independent Kosovo.
“So that will not change,” he said, adding that both sides want a resolution that will allow Serbia and Kosovo to live side by side in peace and prosperity. “We need to think creatively how to achieve this. I don’t think that the status quo is sustainable,” Carpenter said.
He estimated that whatever the democratic administration succeeds in achieving, the incumbent administration needs to be more creative and think carefully about how to encourage the two sides to reach an agreement that can be accepted by most Serbs and Kosovo Albanians. “It involves putting on the table the idea of a stabilization fund,” he adds.
He would not like to rule out any possibility, including the change of borders, but notes that the key is the sustainability of a deal that is supported by most citizens in both Serbia and Kosovo.
“If internal actors do not fully support the resolution, then no matter what the external actors think about it, it will not work. Permanent resolution requires broad support on both sides,” Carpenter concluded.
See at: https://bit.ly/2GeMCU6
NATO tells U.S. Congressman that Serbia can buy arms from whoever it wants (N1, Danas)
After Eliot Engel, a Democrat and U.S. Representative for New York’s 16th congressional district, sharply criticised NATO for its, as he said, soft and easeful attitude toward Serbia for buying Russian weapons, James Mackey, the Alliance’s Director of Security Policy and Partnerships, said the country was an independent state and had own choices, N1 reported on Wednesday.
Engel warned a US Admiral James Foggo, the commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, that when he spoke about the successful cooperation with Serbia, he did not represent the US stands.
“Serbia must calculate all the expenses and benefits from every cooperation and every relationship, but it is an independent state and NATO cannot tell it who it should have relations with,” Mackey said.
He later told N1 that NATO was satisfied with the individual partnership Serbia signed with the Alliance and that based on those agreements some joint exercises, and joint pans in emergencies.
Serbia’s purchase of Russian arms raised questions in Davos, during the Western Balkans panel. Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said he told those asking the question that his country “bought only defensive weaponry… we want to be ready to protect our country.” Due to the Chatham House rules, he could not go into the details discussed at the panel.
See at: https://bit.ly/36lJPmR
Grenell to visit Belgrade on Friday (Blic, B92)
US President Donald Trump Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and Ambassador in Germany, Richard Grenell, who will visit Belgrade on Friday and speak with the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will request quick resumption of dialogue. This is according to the Belgrade-based daily Blic.
The daily further writes that this will be the requirement, especially because of the success of signing a letter of intent to establish direct airline between Belgrade and Pristina. According to the daily in order for this agreement to be implemented, the President Vucic will set a condition: abolishing tariffs on goods from central Serbia, that Pristina imposed.
Dialogue resumption, abolishing tariffs and establishing economic co-operation could serve as some of significant topics to be discussed between Grenell and Vucic. Short deadlines – tangible results: This is the bottom line of Richard Grenell’s precise agenda for his upcoming Belgrade visit, the newspaper claims.
The visit comes just four days after signing a letter of intent to establish direct airline between Belgrade and Pristina in Berlin, after two decades of interruption, which was directly coined by joint efforts of Grenell and Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, the daily concluded.
Vucic: I appreciate Grenell’s energy, but speeding up talks with Pristina won’t go easily (BETA)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he appreciates the enthusiasm of the US Special Envoy in Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and Ambassador in Berlin Richard Grenell, who is due to visit Belgrade, however, speeding up the talks between Belgrade and Pristina “won’t go easily”, Beta news agency reports.
Vucic told TV Pink that he has spoken with US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien as well, noting that both O’Brien and Grenell “demonstrate strong energy” and any improvement of the situation in relation with Pristina is important to Serbia. He recalled that Grenell spoke about the economy the most.
“We will talk about everything. It makes no sense to talk about airline, if you cannot transport the goods,” Vucic said, referring to the tariffs Pristina imposed on goods from central Serbia.
He also said he is always cautious, and the same would be ahead of his meeting with Grenell, adding he respects the intentions and Grenell’s energy, describing him as a man “who has particular sort of passion in politics,” N1 reports.
Grenell to Thaci: Revoke tariffs to achieve progress in Belgrade-Pristina talks (N1, KoSSev, Tanjug)
US President Donald Trump Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and Ambassador in Berlin Richard Grenell said after the meeting with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci that progress has to be made in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, including revoking of 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods, N1 reports.
Grenell met with Thaci for a working dinner in Pristina on Wednesday evening.
“I believe that we can achieve peace, stability and a final agreement with Serbia under the leadership of President Trump and contribute to peace in the Western Balkans. Your role is crucial. Where others failed, the US succeeded,” Thaci is quoted as saying after the meeting by the KoSSev news portal which added that Grenell told reporters that they mainly discussed economic interests in cooperation which he has been advocating since he was named special envoy in October 2019.
Thaci also said that they did not discuss local issues, including the parliamentary elections. “Grenell is charged with the normalization of relations with Serbia and is not here for local political problems… This visit has nothing to do with the agendas of local players after the elections. We will succeed under Trump’s leadership,” Thaci told the media.
KoSSev recalled that Grenell is also scheduled to meet former prime minister, now head of the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo Isa Mustafa who has been negotiating with Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti on the forming of a new government as well as with Albin Kurti.
Meanwhile, Tanjug news agency reported that Grenell said he would request from Belgrade to cease its campaign to retract recognitions of Kssovo during his visit tomorrow.
See at: https://bit.ly/37gUtwq
Vucic: Charles Michel, EC President, to organize WB leaders meeting in February (B92, Tanjug, TV Pink)
President of Serbia stated that he also spoke with the President of the European Council at a gala dinner organized in Jerusalem by the President of Israel.
According to him, President of the European Council Charles Michel announced the gathering of Western Balkans leaders in February.
“I expect Michel to soon organize some kind of rally in February that will bring together all the leaders in the Western Balkans, so that we can continue dialogue,” Vucic told Television Pink.
He said he talked to him about the position of Serbia and Montenegro, as the leading countries in European integration process in the Western Balkans.
Vucic said that during the dinner in honor of the Fifth World Holocaust Forum “Remembering the Holocaust – Fighting anti-Semitism”, he spoke with the President and Prime Minister of Israel, the Presidents of Cyprus and Greece, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic.
He said that he will have a bilateral meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tonight, and he also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked him especially for raising the flag with the David star on the Serbian Presidency building.
Vucic says he has also spoken with leaders of countries in the region, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, former Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor, as well as the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
He said he had conducted the longest conversation with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic.
See at: https://bit.ly/36kFK2i
Serbia has over 100 million euros worth projects in Kosovo (Kosovo-online, N1)
Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Deputy Director Petar Petkovic said during his visit to Leposavic town in northern Kosovo that Belgrade would implement 349 projects worth over 100 million euros in Kosovo, adding the goal was to reach every household this year, Kosovo-online portal reports.
He also said that additional 150 million would be allocated from “Serbia 2020-2025” project.
“The main message is we must reach every person, that it is absolutely unacceptable families to live in dire conditions, while Serbia allocates a lot of money for Kosovo,” he underlined. Petkovic warned that the responsibility at the local level should be higher.
Djuric: Belgrade-Pristina airline economic arrangement, not political dialogue (Danas, RTV)
Signing the letter of intent to open an airline between Belgrade and Pristina is an economic arrangement, while political dialogue is something “completely different”, Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric said, Danas daily reports.
“Political dialogue takes place under EU’s mediation, and this is something completely different, this is a commercial arrangement that also has some political elements in it, given that after 21 years Belgrade and Pristina would be connected through the airline, after all elements are worked on,” Djuric said.
He also told Radio-Television of Vojvodina (RTV) that letter of intent to open Belgrade-Pristina airline should demonstrate “our greater readiness” for the flow of people, goods and capital, assessing it is very good to restore the air traffic between “our two cities.”
“I see in this our willingness to open up artificial barriers which have been imposed,” Djuric said, adding it has been 2.466 days since Pristina undertook obligation to establish Community of Serb-majority Municipalities and have not done so, as well as 14 months since the latter introduced 100 percent tariffs on the goods from central Serbia.
Djuric assessed that “everything that takes us towards unblocking the dialogue is in the interest of our people in Kosovo and Metohija.”
German and French ambassadors to Belgrade: Serbia belongs to the EU, but must meet conditions (FoNet, N1)
German Ambassador to Serbia Thomas Schieb said on Wednesday the European Union wants all Western Balkans countries to be part of the bloc as soon as they fulfil criteria focused on the rule of law, individual freedoms and protection of human rights, FoNet news agency reports.
Taking part in the ceremony marking the 57th anniversary of the French-German Élysée Treaty of friendship and the first anniversary of their Franco-German Treaty of Aachen, Schieb added that Serbia and Western Balkans were historically, culturally and economically tightly connected.
“Germany and France will be Serbia’s sincere partners on its way to the EU membership,” Schieb said, and greeted the ceremony with: “Long Live France, Long live Germany, Long live EU, Long live Serbia.”
His French colleague and host Jean-Louis Falconi added that both Paris and Berlin were engaged into Serbia’s and other Western Balkans’ membership to the EU.
“That’s our common goal. Serbia has its place in the EU, but that means working on reforms both in the EU and here to unite the European family again,” Ambassador Falconi noted.
Vucic: “The point is not Amfilohije, but the thesis that I will betray Kosovo” (B92, Tanjug)
The President of Serbia says that Metropolitan Amfilohije is not a “thorn in the eye” and that such assessments are given by people who do not a policy.
As Vucic says, these people have been repeating for years the accusation that he would betray Kosovo or, more recently, that he was negotiating with the president of Montenegro about anything, which, as he points out, is nonsense.
Vucic thus responded to a journalist’s statement in Jerusalem that Mladjan Djordjevic said that “the action against Metropolitan Amfilohije is a joint undertaking of him and Milo Djukanovic, because Metropolitan is a thorn in Vucic’s eye.”
“Metropolitan Amfilohije is not a thorn in my eye and it is the policy of Dveri and Dragan Djilas, who are completely schizophrenic and do not know what to look for or to do,” Vucic said. He added that he had never responded in an abusive manner to difficult words and insults.
“All politics has come down to – you will betray Kosovo. And I have been listening to it for eight years, and I get about 90 percent of votes in Kosovo, because these people have a good understanding of who is taking care of them and who represents their views,” Vucic said. This, he points out, is also his biggest reward.
“And, to political nonsense, like agreeing with Djukanovic … it’s so stupid and meaningless, I have no words for it,” Vucic said.
How Has the UN Mission in Kosovo Delivered on Action for Peacekeeping? (IPI Global Observatory)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) agenda in 2018 as an initiative to improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping. Much attention has been given to A4P implementation in the UN’s largest peacekeeping missions, while those in “frozen” conflicts—where efforts to find a political solution have stalled—are rarely discussed. Such missions, considered stagnant, are often overlooked due to the day-to-day challenges of enormous, multidimensional missions.
With roughly 350 staff members and a $38 million budget, the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), is one of the UN’s smallest. Despite a political impasse and its modest size, UNMIK has made remarkable progress in realizing the A4P agenda as it works to consolidate peace in Kosovo and offers valuable lessons for peacekeeping globally, particularly how peacekeeping missions in frozen conflicts can be utilized to foster innovation. How UNMIK was able to do this can be gleaned from examining the five thematic areas at the core of the A4P agenda: the primacy of politics, a people-centered approach, sustaining peace, partnerships, and performance.
See at: https://bit.ly/30Lmbix
The Illusion of Russian Influence in the Western Balkans (The Globe Post)
In the absence of a clear E.U. integration perspective, Albania, Serbia, and North Macedonia have decided to take matters into their own hands and initiate their version of regional cooperation known as “mini Schengen.” Two other Balkan countries, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, have stated their reservations, while Kosovo has rejected the idea altogether.
Kosovo based its refusal to participate primarily on its relationship with Serbia and Belgrade’s lack of recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. In addition, Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, said that the “mini Schengen” initiative would pave the way for more Russian influence in the region.
See at: ttps://bit.ly/2TPCBVr
U.S. Envoy Urges Kosovo, Serbia Turn Eyes on Economy, Jobs (AP/NYT)
U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy for talks between Balkan rivals Serbia and Kosovo was in Pristina on Wednesday in an effort to urge both countries to resume negotiations and reach a final reconciliation agreement.
Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, met Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci and said President Donald Trump “has been singularly focused on trying to solve this problem by not looking backward, by not having the same old political stalemate and arguments.”
See at: https://nyti.ms/36iXGKA
Corruption Fight Faltering in Balkans, Central Europe, Transparency Says (Balkan Insight)
The watchdog’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index for 2019 suggests that countries in Southeast and Central Europe are either making no progress in the fight against graft – or going backwards.
The rankings of most Southeast and Central European countries declined in the latest Global Perceptions Corruption Index, which the watchdog organisation Transparency International published on Thursday.
Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia scored worst in the Western Balkan region with 36 and 35 points respectively, which put them in 101st and 106th place on a list of 180 countries.
Both declined from last year, when Bosnia was ranked in 89th place, with 38 points, and North Macedonia came in 93rd place, with 37 points.
See at: https://bit.ly/2NTA34X
Kosovo jails eight over plot to kill president and prime minister (Reuters)
A Kosovo court jailed eight men on Wednesday for the attempted murder of a former politician and plotting to kill the Balkan country’s president and prime minister in 2017.
The eight received jail terms ranging from two to 12 years and were part of an organization known as People’s Eye which President Hashim Thaci and the court have described as a terrorist organization.
See at: https://reut.rs/2Rnua2l
Details of Kosovo-Serbia flight deal revealed (Prishtina Insight)
Speaking exclusively to BIRN, head of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority Eset Berisha outlines some key details about the recently signed an aviation agreement that could facilitate flights between Belgrade and Prishtina.
On January 20, at the US embassy in Berlin, representatives from the Civil Aviation Authority of Kosovo and the Serbian Ministry of Economy signed a letter of interest with German airline Lufthansa, opening up the possibility of direct flights between Prishtina and Belgrade.
See at: https://bit.ly/2sU0yQC
Kosovo’s wealth still buried underground (Prishtina Insight)
Kosovo’s natural resources have always been seen as a potential driver for the country’s emerging economy, but numerous governance and legislation issues have made investing in the sector almost impossible.
In 2010, the Turkish investor Li-Kos was granted all ten licenses and authorizations required to begin roof tile production in the village of Fortese in Rahovec, using resources excavated from the local region. An investment of 19 million euros was foreseen, including the construction of a new factory, which was expected to employ 120 people.
See at: https://bit.ly/2RMRu8m