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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 24, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 24, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Grenell heralds establishment of railway line between Pristina and Belgrade (Koha)
• Konjufca expected to resign, LVV succumbs to pressure from LDK (Lajmi)
• Vetevendosje: No reason for Konjufca to resign Assembly President post (media)
• EU: Elections transparent, well-administered; counting with major shortcomings (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Vucic after meeting Grenell: I do not accept equality sign between retractions of recognition and Pristina’s tariffs (RTS)
• Grenell in Belgrade: If you do not reach agreement, we will withdraw (Tanjug, B92)
• Grenell arrived, bringing a “new Dayton” to Vucic? (Tanjug, B92, Srpski Telegraf)
• Godfrey: Grenell’s visit shows US interest for Western Balkans (RTS)
• Drecun: The White House wants some progress between Belgrade and Pristina (RTS, Kosovo Online)
• Dacic: Ending de-recognition campaign can not be compromise over tariffs (Tanjug)
• Young Kosovo Serb journalists visit ”Klan Kosova” TV in Pristina (KoSSev)

Opinion:

• Belgrade-Pristina Flights Won’t Get Kosovo Serbs Airborne (Prishtina Insight)
• Balkans Risks Being Caught in Crossfire Over Middle East (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Grenell heralds establishment of railway line between Pristina and Belgrade (Koha)
  • Konjufca expected to resign, LVV succumbs to pressure from LDK (Lajmi)
  • Vetevendosje: No reason for Konjufca to resign Assembly President post (media)
  • EU: Elections transparent, well-administered; counting with major shortcomings (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Vucic after meeting Grenell: I do not accept equality sign between retractions of recognition and Pristina’s tariffs (RTS)
  • Grenell in Belgrade: If you do not reach agreement, we will withdraw (Tanjug, B92)
  • Grenell arrived, bringing a “new Dayton” to Vucic? (Tanjug, B92, Srpski Telegraf)
  • Godfrey: Grenell’s visit shows US interest for Western Balkans (RTS)
  • Drecun: The White House wants some progress between Belgrade and Pristina (RTS, Kosovo Online) 
  • Dacic: Ending de-recognition campaign can not be compromise over tariffs (Tanjug)
  • Young Kosovo Serb journalists visit ”Klan Kosova” TV in Pristina (KoSSev)

Opinion: 

  • Belgrade-Pristina Flights Won’t Get Kosovo Serbs Airborne (Prishtina Insight)
  • Balkans Risks Being Caught in Crossfire Over Middle East (Balkan Insight)      

 

 

 Albanian Language Media

 

Grenell heralds establishment of railway line between Pristina and Belgrade (Koha)

The news website reports that the U.S. Special Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations announced that an agreement in principle has been reached to establish a railway line between Pristina and Belgrade.

Speaking to a group of journalists, Grenell is quoted as saying that during his visit to Pristina and Belgrade, he got the agreement of both parties on the initiative. He said that the details of the agreement would be negotiated in the coming days by a group of experts.

Konjufca expected to resign, LVV succumbs to pressure from LDK (Lajmi)

According to the news website, a major turning point is expected today in Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) position on the post of Kosovo Assembly President, as Glauk Konjufca is expected to announce his resignation from the post. 

The news website recalls that Konjufca’s election as Assembly President stopped negotiations between LVV and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) for a coalition government.

Citing unnamed sources, Lajmi notes that Vetevendosje believes that Konjufca’s resignation is the only solution to make way for the formation of the new government. LVV officials have neither denied nor confirmed the information.

Asked to comment on the issue, LVV deputy leader Fatmire Kollcaku said representatives of the two parties will meet today. “All I can say that a meeting is expected to take place today. I believe both parties will try to meet the expectations of the people. I cannot say anything more at this point. The agreement is reached by the parties and they will try to find a solution,” she said.

Vetevendosje: No reason for Konjufca to resign Assembly President post (media)

The news website reports that the election of Vetevendosje’s senior official Glauk Konjufca to the post of Assembly President was considered as one of the key obstacles to an eventual coalition government agreement between Vetevendosje and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). There have been media reports that Konjufca could resign the post. Vetevendosje representatives however have denied the possibility. Arberie Nagavci, member of Vetevendosje’s leadership, told the news website today: “It is not true that Glauk will resign from the post. He has no reason to do so”. 

EU: Elections transparent, well-administered; counting with major shortcomings (media)

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Kosovo released today its Final Report on the 6 October 2019 early legislative elections, a statement issued by the EOM states.

The EU EOM Final Report reflects on the Mission’s findings which include a vibrant and competitive campaign in most of Kosovo, a well-administered and transparent process prior to voting as well as an orderly election day. However, misuse of public resources and a lack of transparency of campaign finance resulted in an uneven playing field. The report also noted a lack of competition in the Kosovo Serb areas and a campaign environment marred by intimidation against non-Srpska Lista candidates or supporters.

The preliminary results published after election day were generally trusted by political entities, however the credibility of the post-election day counting and tabulation process was negatively affected by a lack of timely Central Election Commission decisions, inefficient handling of complaints by the Election Complaints and Appeals Panel and controversial court decisions.

The Chief Observer Viola von Cramon-Taubadel underlined: “Controversial court decisions related to counting of Out-of-Kosovo postal ballots and the fact that almost 90 per cent of polling stations had to be recounted are serious shortcomings to be tackled to preserve public trust in the electoral processes.”

The report also contains recommendations aimed at improving future electoral processes in Kosovo.

Link to report: https://bit.ly/38ymUGr

 

 

 Serbian Language Media

 

Vucic after meeting Grenell: I do not accept equality sign between retractions of recognition and Pristina’s tariffs (RTS)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said after the meeting with US President Donald Trump Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell that there are no easy talks in Belgrade-Pristina relations, RTS reports. Vucic added he is grateful to Grenell who understood Serbia’s needs.

On the other hand, Grenell said Pristina must lift the tariffs, while Belgrade should cease its campaign to retract recognitions of Kosovo.

Vucic further said the talks with Grenell were very good and focused on advancing the standards of people living in the area as well as better economic connection in the region. He underlined there are no easy topics in Belgrade-Pristina relations, because whatever topic is it always ends with the politics.

He noted he presented to Grenell all problems Serbia faced since Pristina introduced 100 percent tariffs on goods from central Serbia, saying that in one-year time Serbia has lost 435 million euros. Vucic also said that Serbian companies were completely ousted from the Kosovo market.

He once again thanked Grenell for understanding how much it is important in the contemporary world to make agreements and overcome the barriers. Speaking about infrastructural projects with Pristina, Vucic said Serbian side is ready to build a highway. The two officials also discussed introducing a railway connection between Belgrade and Pristina, however it is pointless to have railway connection without possibility to transport the goods due to the tariffs, Vucic noted.

Commenting on Grenell’s message to Belgrade that it should cease its de-recognition campaign, Vucic said Belgrade offered Pristina a deal to make a break in pushing its request for the membership in international organizations and recognitions, and same to happen in the campaign to retract recognitions of Kosovo, however, Pristina did not accept it.

Vucic said he does not accept equality sign between retraction of recognitions of Kosovo and Pristina’s tariffs.

On his side, Richard Grenell said it was nice to be back to Belgrade, adding he came here to make links and has no “big agenda.”

“I want to support you and help your economies grow,” Grenell said. Responding to a journalist’s question if it was fair to ask Belgrade to cease its campaign to retract recognitions of Kosovo as a concession for the tariffs to be revoked, Grenell responded it was not up to him to decide and he only tries to direct to the better future of the people.

“To bring a bit of the energy we have in the US. To move political issues aside and to focus on the economy,” Grenell said, RTS reported.

Grenell in Belgrade: If you do not reach agreement, we will withdraw (Tanjug, B92)

US Presidential Special Envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, Richard Grenell, after the visit to Pristina, brought the same message to Belgrade, B92 reports.

Richard Grenell thanked Vicic for his hospitality on the joint press conference and said he would “push both sides” to reach an agreement in the dialogue.

The tariffs must be abolished, he said, adding that the campaign to withdraw recognitions of Kosovo independence must end as well. Grenell said that yesterday in Pristina, during his meetings with leaders and the business community, he said that the 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods must be abolished.

However, he made the same request in Belgrade, regarding the recognition withdrawal campaign, which has to stop, Grenell said. Asked by a reporter if this was fair, Grenell said:

“When we talk about whether something is fair or not, it is not for me to say it, it is up to me to bring the two sides together and it is up to the parties to decide. The parties will tell me what they think and what they want. I try to focus on a better future for the people in Kosovo and in Serbia. We must do everything we can to overcome what everyone sees as an open conflict. If both sides fail to reach an agreement, we will withdraw”.

He said that “we must move towards the economy,” job creation, which means abolishing the tariffs which would lead to greater wealth and a more normal situation when it comes to trade. Grenell said he also met with businessmen in Kosovo while visiting Pristina, who said they agree the tariffs must be abolished.

“We are all focused on that and I am convinced we are going in that direction”, Grenell said.

See at: https://bit.ly/2Rn6ScN

Grenell arrived, bringing a “new Dayton” to Vucic? (Tanjug, B92, Srpski Telegraf)

Vucic meets with US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Richard Grenell. “He offers new Dayton.”

The meeting between the President of Serbia and Trump’s envoy began at 9.00, Tanjug reports.

Grenell, who arrived in Belgrade from Pristina, said that Pristina must lift the taxes and would ask Belgrade to suspend its campaign of derecognition of Kosovo’s independence.

Media in Serbia say that America wants an expedited settlement of the Kosovo issue, but also finalizing the two-party agreement at a new international conference that would be in the form of a “new Dayton”.

According to Belgrade based tabloid Srpski Telegraf, there is no timetable and precise date for reaching a new agreement, such as the one that ended the conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, concluded in Dayton, but Grenell’s determination is that the job entrusted to him by US President Donald Trump should be finished as soon as possible.

The newspaper claims that the US agreement will include abolition of Pristina taxes, continuation of negotiations at an accelerated pace, border crossing, annexation of northern Kosovo to Serbia proper, US investments in the region, especially to northern Kosovo, which would belong to Serbia, arrival of US companies, investment in travel infrastructure, boosting trade between Belgrade and Pristina and accelerating EU integration process.

“This is not a matter that is resolved within a few days, but it is a topic that the current American leader wants to address in a way that would secure a lasting agreement with a compromise between the two sides,” the newspaper quoted a statement by an unnamed source.

As the source adds, in addition to the political segment, which he claims does not rule out the partitioning of the province “by which the north of Kosovo would be annexed to Serbia,” Grenell’s plan also includes an economic package.

The source of Srpski Telegraf states that Grenell insists on this economic moment, because he is convinced that this is a way to connect the region as soon as possible, to establish cooperation that would facilitate the further path.

Serbian Chamber of Commerce President Marko Cadez told the newspaper that precisely the new economic opportunities and foreign investment “in Kosovo and Serbia” could make it easier to reach a final agreement in dialogue and normalization of relations.

“The whole Kosovo problem can come closer to normalizing, above all the relations between Serbs and Albanians, through the economic interest that we have in common. Grenell really puts the economy at the forefront and starts from what benefits it, first of all, to the economy, because businessmen always consider mutual interest,” Cadez explains.

At the same time, he added, it is important that Washington has a focus here “because we have not been on the radar for a long time, and it is important that there is someone who is a strong partner and who can be the EU’s guarantor for further developments”.

See at: https://bit.ly/2RmqD3Y

Godfrey: Grenell’s visit shows US interest in Western Balkans (RTS)

The US Ambassador to Serbia, Anthony Godfrey said the visit of US Special Envoy in Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Richard Grenell shows the interest of President Donald Trump and the US in the Western Balkans, RTS reports.

Godfrey also emphasised the visit was planned for a long time and was not part of the pre-election campaign. He noted the US wants to help Western Balkans become stable and prosperous region.

“We want Western Balkans states to be at peace with each other and want the region to be dominated and ruled by democratic values. We are happy to see Serbia progressing. We hope to be able to make an impetus. The absence of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is not helpful, and all we can do is to support that dialogue,” US Ambassador Godfrey said.  

Drecun: The White House wants some progress between Belgrade and Pristina (RTS, Kosovo Online) 

Serbian Parliament Kosovo-Metohija Committee Chairman Milovan Drecun told Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) that when the United States say there are no deadlines for reaching an agreement, they mean some sort of political agreement could be reached if talks continue, adding that Richard Grenell warns that Trump wants some progress such as the airline deal.

Milovan Drecun says that judging by the US president’s response to the initial agreement to establish a Belgrade-Pristina airline, it is obvious that the White House administration wants some progress in relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

“They have long insisted the talks to continue, that a final solution for KiM be reached if possible, but seeing that there are obstacles, it seems to me that they are now going some other way – they want to make any progress and on economic plan, through the cooperation between the companies between central Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija, and present this as a step forward in order to gain some time until a possible final agreement,” Drecun told RTS. 

According to him, when they say there are no deadlines for reaching an agreement, they think of some sort of political agreement that could be reached if talks continue, but Grenell warns that Trump wants some progress such as an airline deal.

“It can be made economically because otherwise if there is no progress then it would be pointless for Trump to assert his authority as it could turn into a negative campaign against him in the US, which he does not need now in the upcoming presidential campaign,” Drecun noted. 

Speaking about the abolition of tariffs, Drecun says that Grenell has strongly said that the tariffs must be abolished.

“This is a critical phase in the possible continuation of talks between Belgrade and Pristina, as a new so-called Pristina government needs to be formed, which must immediately define its stance on talks with Belgrade, and the tariffs. I think  that Grenell yesterday told Albanian politicians that in the top agenda of the actions of the new government needs to be the abolishment of the tariffs,” said Drecun, adding that it is clear to everyone that there is no continuation of talks because Pristina has created a problem with the tariffs.   

Drecun believes that one part of the small mosaic is missing. 

“They need to abolish tariffs, this is inevitable, and Washington, on the other hand, expects Belgrade not to continue actively on withdrawal of recognition of Kosovo’s self-proclaimed statehood, but they forget that Belgrade expects Pristina to cease activities with its foreign sponsor, and that is Washington, on the further work on the recognition by the new states of Kosovo’s self-proclaimed statehood,” Drecun said. 

He says that Belgrade has already achieved the desired result, there is no simple majority that Pristina needs for any further action at the UN to eventually strengthen its international position.

Dacic: Ending de-recognition campaign can not be compromise over tariffs (Tanjug)

Pressure on Pristina must be much stronger in order for them to lift the tariffs and help of US in this regard would be the most useful, Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Daci said commenting on the visit of US Special Envoy in Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell to Serbia, Tanjug news agency reports.

Dacic added that ending Serbia’s campaign to de-recognize Kosovo can not be compensation to the latter to lift the tariffs.

Presenting the report on the work of the Foreign Ministry, Dacic said that increased interest of US representatives to unblock ‘captured’ dialogue can only please Serbia. He recalled that President Aleksandar Vucic welcomed that engagement and underlined the Belgrade’s stance and it is the dialogue could continue and should continue, but for that to happen anticivilization tariffs, which remain in place despite many condemnations, must be lifted.

Dacic further said the talks with Grenell won’t be easy, because all the stakeholders are still on the opposite sides. He noted the US has not changed its stance on Kosovo independence, however their approach has changed, which was defined during the times of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama that Serbia must accept the independence of Kosovo.

“The situation is different now, they open up the room to reaching compromise, respectively they open up the possibility to reach a compromise and want to take part in it in a constructive manner, by exerting pressure not only upon Belgrade, as it was the case before,” head of the Serbian diplomacy noted.

Responding to a question what will he do if Grenell asks Serbia to end campaign to revoke recognitions of Kosovo, Dacic said he hopes it also means they would end their campaign for Kosovo recognitions, adding that at every UN SC session US calls on all countries to recognize Kosovo.

“President Vucic has clearly defined it, he said we are ready to negotiate, but it includes a moratorium on all sides. Not only that Serbia stops working to protect its national interests,” Dacic explained.

Dacic also said that Albania at the same time works on favouring that all countries recognize Kosovo, Islamic states at Islamic conference make declaration urging states to recognize Kosovo, great world powers still do the same.

“And now the problem is that small Serbia protects its national interests?” Dacic asked, noting it is not a fair approach, and it should not be connected to the tariffs, which are anticivilization measure.

“In no way compensation to lift the tariffs on our side could be stopping the campaign to revoke recognitions of Kosovo. We are ready that we all have moratorium on it, but only if Kosovo wants that sort of agreement,” Dacic concluded.

Young Kosovo Serb journalists visit ”Klan Kosova” TV in Pristina (KoSSev)

If you want to be a good journalist, you need to work hard. If you don’t, then you won’t achieve success. The reason why we are a good television station is that, while working, we never pay attention to what time it is or how late it is. We are chasing after news even at 8 o’clock in the evening. And people say bravo – that is exactly what a good journalist should be like. Such a message was conveyed to an eight member group of young Kosovo Serb journalists group during their visit to Kosovo’s largest television station in Pristina today by Gazmend Syla, TV Klan Kosova news program director.

Broadcasting for the last ten years, Klan Kosova TV is unique in its appearance and work. Located on the outskirts of Pristina, it spans thousands of square meters of a former Yugoslav battery factory, made from recycled, environmentally friendly material. With 15 studios and about 200 employees, a 24h program with diverse content, is one of the most popular TV stations among Kosovo Albanians and is often described as one of the largest in the Balkans.

It also serves as a multimedia center, with a large concert hall and other cultural facilities, restaurants and cafes for employees and guests. Klan Kosova is still being built and upgraded.

Young journalists from six newsrooms reporting in the Serbian language – RTV Mir, Radio Mitrovica Sever, Radio Kontakt Plus, KoSSev, RTV Kim from Caglavica and Radio Gorazdevac – visited the Klan Kosova TV station yesterday.

More at: https://bit.ly/2TSYsva

 

 

Opinion

 

Belgrade-Pristina Flights Won’t Get Kosovo Serbs Airborne (Prishtina Insight)

By: Nevena Radosavljevic

The practical needs of Kosovo Serbs seem to have been left out of the much-hailed deal on renewed flights between Kosovo and Serbia – most of whom will likely stick to the bus.

“Dear passengers, welcome to the flight from Pristina to Belgrade, operated by Eurowings. We wish you a pleasant flight.” The same sentence follows in both Albanian and Serbian. This is the scenario that has run round like a hamster wheel in the minds of Kosovo Serbs, since we received the news about the renewed air flight connection between Pristina and Belgrade.

See at: https://bit.ly/38GVZbH

Balkans Risks Being Caught in Crossfire Over Middle East (Balkan Insight)

By: Vuk Vuksanovic

With its porous borders and weak intelligence services, there is a real risk that the worsening conflict between Iran and its adversaries could spill over into Southeastern Europe.

The controversy over the assassination of the commander of the elite Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRGC, General Qasem Soleimani, by US forces in Iraq, has reached the Balkans.

A resolution submitted to the US Senate by Republican Senator Ted Cruz alleges that General Soleimani was planning terror attacks worldwide, including in Bosnia. The Iranian embassy in Sarajevo has denied this. Meanwhile, Albania – which provides refuge to a militant Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, MEK, has expelled two Iranian diplomats, both allegedly affiliated with the IRGC and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, MOIS.

See at: https://bit.ly/36lCIuD

 

 

 

 

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