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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, January 24

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• Grenell’s message in Kosovo: Set disagreements aside, focus on economy (media)
• Grenell in Belgrade: Tax and derecognition campaign to end soon (Koha/Epoka)
• Haradinaj: Tax will not be lifted until Serbia recognises Kosovo (media)
• Osmani: Grenell energised dialogue with Serbia (media)
• Kurti has two days to decide on LDK offer (Indeksonline)
• Hoti: Kurti should mind his own affairs (RTV21/RTK)
• Abrashi: I would lift tariff today, prior to Grenell’s visit to Serbia (RTK)
• New EULEX chief assumes post (media)

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  • Grenell’s message in Kosovo: Set disagreements aside, focus on economy (media)
  • Grenell in Belgrade: Tax and derecognition campaign to end soon (Koha/Epoka)
  • Haradinaj: Tax will not be lifted until Serbia recognises Kosovo (media)
  • Osmani: Grenell energised dialogue with Serbia (media)
  • Kurti has two days to decide on LDK offer (Indeksonline)
  • Hoti: Kurti should mind his own affairs (RTV21/RTK)
  • Abrashi: I would lift tariff today, prior to Grenell’s visit to Serbia (RTK)
  • New EULEX chief assumes post (media)

Grenell’s message in Kosovo: Set disagreements aside, focus on economy (media)

In the coverage of the visit of Richard Grenell, U.S. Special Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, most of the media highlight his call to Kosovo leaders to set aside their political disagreements and focus instead on economic development.

Grenell underlined that he does not wish to get involved in political issues but did call on Kosovo to lift the import tax on Serbia. “What President Trump and I are interested in is to find a solution to push forward economic development,” he said.

“I think people and politicians should be concerned with creating new jobs and economic development. Young people want jobs not political conflicts.”

Asked by Koha Ditore about the final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, Grenell said all parties need to make compromises. “We don’t have a clear idea as to what they are, we only have the power to bring people together. I did not come here with a specific idea what parties need to achieve. I will constantly push forward the parties by telling them to stop looking back and turn to the future,” he said.

In Pristina, Grenell met President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, leader of the Vetevendosje Movement Albin Kurti and leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo Isa Mustafa. He also met representatives of the Kosovo business community.

Grenell in Belgrade: Tax and derecognition campaign to end soon (Koha/Epoka)

The U.S. Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Ambassador Richard Grenell arrived in Belgrade last night following his visit to Pristina and told reporters there that Kosovo needs to lift the tax on imports from Serbia while Serbia needs to stop its campaign for derecognition of Kosovo.

“This should happen simultaneously and, to be honest, I think it will happen soon,” he said.

Grenell is reported to have said that there is not much time available for the conclusion of Kosovo-Serbia negotiations and noted that President Trump will not waste time and let talks drag on indefinitely.

Haradinaj: Tax will not be lifted until Serbia recognises Kosovo (media)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj spoke to Tirana-based Top Channel where has said that the tax on imports should remain in force until Serbia recognises independence of Kosovo.

Haradinaj also confirmed he did not meet the U.S. Envoy Grenell yesterday. “I had a telephone conversation with him and he is concerned about the tax on Serbian goods,” Haradinaj said.

“The tax cannot be lifted without an agreement with Serbia. He [Grenell] should put forward a consolidated agreement with Serbia and we will lift the tax,” he added. “I will not lift the tax to enable Vucic to win elections in spring. If Serbia recognises Kosovo, I will immediately gather the government and remove the tax.”

Osmani: Grenell energised dialogue with Serbia (media)

Deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani thanked the U.S. Envoy Richard Grenell for support to Kosovo.

“He has brought the much needed energy to the dialogue with Serbia and we look forward to work with him in the next Government, which we’re aiming to form in line with the will of the people,” Osmani wrote on Twitter after meeting Grenell.

Kurti has two days to decide on LDK offer (Indeksonline)

The news website reports that the Kurti-led Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) has time until Sunday to decide on the coalition government offer made by the Democratic League of Kosovo. The LDK has called on LVV to remove Glauk Konjufca from the post of Assembly President and hand over the post to the LDK until the new President of Kosovo is elected.

LDK senior official and Peja Mayor, Gazmend Muhaxherri, said on Thursday: “the visit by senior U.S. officials to Pristina sends a clear message. There should be no new elections and a solution must be found. We will see in the next couple of hours if there will be progress on the matter.”

Hoti: Kurti should mind his own affairs (RTV21/RTK)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) MP Avdullah Hoti told TV21 on Thursday that Glauk Konjufca’s election as Assembly Speaker on December 26, returned the entire process of negotiations with Vetevendosje Movement to point zero. According to him, this was a sign that they intend to move alone in the future processes.

Speaking about Kurti’s request to send LVV’s request at LDK’s general council, Hoti said “Kurti should look after his own home, we do not consent at the general council whenever this comes to Kurti’s mind.”

According to him, there is no reason to delay establishment of institutions. Hoti also said that if LVV agrees with LDK’s conditions, the agreement can be signed within minutes, as they agreed previously on all program and dialogue issues.

“If the agreement between LDK and LVV fails and if LVV brings a minority government at the Assembly, we will sit and discuss possibilities of the conditions under which we could support it.”

He added that if 2020 budget is not endorsed by 31 March, all payments from the state budget would stop, stressing that only the new government can present the new budget to the Assembly.

Abrashi: I would lift tariff today, prior to Grenell’s visit to Serbia (RTK)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) MP Arban Abrashi said on Thursday that the Kosovo-Serbia agreement should be reached as soon as possible, as according to him, dragging of this process goes in Serbia’s favor.

“I am one of the greatest supporters of the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia as soon as possible,” he said. He added that Serbia has often found excuses that did not make sense to leave the table of dialogue. “However, we as Kosovo also gave reason for them to behave in that manner,” he said.

“Time is not on our side. If we reached the agreement with Serbia much earlier, we would certainly come out with a better solution. Any delay puts us in a worse position. Kosovo’s position and image in the European Union has become more difficult while that of Serbia has improved,” Abrashi said.

“Time is very essential. We should as early as possible catch this pace and use the American offensive that we have seen recently on reach of the final agreement with Serbia and bring Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo,’ Abrashi said.

“The tariff mentioned by Ambassador Richard Grenell and prevention of Serbia’s bad neighborly relations, including blockade at UNESCO, INTERPOL, EU and withdrawal of recognitions, were his two demands, except for the support that they will give to us in the dialogue and economic development,” Abrashi said.

“I do not know why we need this tariff. I would remove the tariff today, prior to Richard Grenell’s visit to Serbia, in order to say that we commence our duties and Serbia should stop obstacles towards Kosovo and guarantee good neighborly relations,” Abrashi said.

New EULEX chief assumes post (media)

Lars-Gunnar Wigemark from Sweden assumed the post as the new Head of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), with a mandate running until 14 June 2020, media report quoting a press release issued by the mission.

“I look forward to this new and challenging appointment. I will strive for EULEX to remain a reliable partner for its Kosovo partners and friends, offering our long-time rule of law counterparts tangible, timely and useful assistance to keep growing stronger and more capable to continue their journey on the European path,” Wigemark said.

Wigemark previously served as head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina and EU Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina until August 2019.

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