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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, January 27, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Kosovo delegation says meeting in Berlin was constructive (media)
• This is Kosovo’s delegation negotiating on railways in Berlin today (media)
• Haradinaj says he has not spoken to Grenell about railways (Express)
• Thaci: Kosovo joins remembrance of the Holocaust victims (media)
• Mustafa: Meeting with Kurti today, I am committed to an agreement (Express)

Serbian Language Media:

• Djuric: Thaci abuses the Holocaust in an uncivilized manner (Kosovo Online, Radio Mitrovica Sever, Blic)
• Borrell: We will do the best we know to facilitate Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (RTS)
• Railway line to be discussed in Berlin today, Djuric heads Serbian delegation (Tanjug, Radio KIM)
• Godfrey: I hope dialogue will continue (FoNet)
• Dacic: Grenell’s position nothing new, Quint states have similar opinion (BETA, N1)
• Atlantic Council: Trump may be more successful in the Balkans than elsewhere (Beta, N1, VoA)
• “Prva petoletka” basketball players banned to enter Kosovo at Jarinje (RTS)
• PDS municipal councillor in Gracanica joined Srpska Lista (Radio KIM)
• Political analyst Fatmir Sheholli summoned to the Hague (Radio kontakt plus)

Opinion:

• The French non-paper: Are there any implications for Kosovo’s EU integration process? (EWB)

International:

• Michel: Three pillars for future Western Balkans-EU relations (EWB)
• Church Protests in Montenegro – Key facts (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• What’s happening on the shores of Lake Badovc? (Prishtina Insight)
• Possible protests over construction near Badovac lake (KiM radio)
• Teaching through the pain (Prishtina Insight)
• Educated by another state (Prishtina Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Kosovo delegation says meeting in Berlin was constructive (media)
  • This is Kosovo’s delegation negotiating on railways in Berlin today (media)
  • Haradinaj says he has not spoken to Grenell about railways (Express)
  • Thaci: Kosovo joins remembrance of the Holocaust victims (media)
  • Mustafa: Meeting with Kurti today, I am committed to an agreement (Express)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Djuric: Thaci abuses the Holocaust in an uncivilized manner (Kosovo Online, Radio Mitrovica Sever, Blic) 
  • Borrell: We will do the best we know to facilitate Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (RTS)
  • Railway line to be discussed in Berlin today, Djuric heads Serbian delegation (Tanjug, Radio KIM)
  • Godfrey: I hope dialogue will continue (FoNet)
  • Dacic: Grenell’s position nothing new, Quint states have similar opinion (BETA, N1)
  • Atlantic Council: Trump may be more successful in the Balkans than elsewhere (Beta, N1, VoA)
  • “Prva petoletka” basketball players banned to enter Kosovo at Jarinje (RTS)
  • PDS municipal councillor in Gracanica joined Srpska Lista (Radio KIM)
  • Political analyst Fatmir Sheholli summoned to the Hague (Radio kontakt plus)

Opinion: 

  • The French non-paper: Are there any implications for Kosovo’s EU integration process? (EWB)

International:

  • Michel: Three pillars for future Western Balkans-EU relations (EWB)
  • Church Protests in Montenegro – Key facts (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development: 

  • What’s happening on the shores of Lake Badovc? (Prishtina Insight)
  • Possible protests over construction near Badovac lake (KiM radio)
  • Teaching through the pain (Prishtina Insight)
  • Educated by another state (Prishtina Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Kosovo delegation says meeting in Berlin was constructive (media)

Xheme Veseli, member of the Kosovo delegation that met in Berlin representatives from Serbia to discuss details for a railway link between Pristina and Belgrade, said that the meeting, which took place at the U.S. Embassy premises and mediated by Special Envoy Ambassador Richard Grenell, took place in a constructive atmosphere.

“We had good talks. We have made progress and agreed to successfully conclude talks in the coming days,” said Veseli, Director of the Department of Road Transportation with the Kosovo Ministry of Infrastructure. 

This is Kosovo’s delegation negotiating on railways in Berlin today (media)

Following the agreement on the return of the airline between Pristina and Belgrade, the parties are going to discuss today in Berlin, return of the railway line between Kosovo and Serbia, after more than two decades. Kosovo’s Ministry of infrastructure has appointed by a decision the individuals who will negotiate for railway in Berlin.

According to this decision, Xheme Veseli, Director of the Department for Land Transport Department and Rame Qupeva Director of Road Infrastructure will participate at the meeting in Berlin today.

The decision was made by the Acting Minister for Infrastructure Pal Lekaj.

Tanjug on the other hand reported based on sources that Serbian delegation will be led by the Director of the Serbian Office for Kosovo Marko Djuric. 

Haradinaj says he has not spoken to Grenell about railways (Express)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj said he has not discussed with the U.S. Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell about the railway agreement with Serbia.

“The second part was not part of the discussions, I have made my statement,” he said.

Haradinaj said selection of those that would go to Berlin was made by the Ministry of Infrastructure.

“You know how the process goes, approval is made for political staff, while selection of experts is made by departments, I do not know those people,” he said.

“We have the railways that are connected with Serbia, but they are in a miserable state, we are in the process of renovation. It is a major project with the EU. An agreement with Serbia does not cause any harm to Kosovo. There are hundreds of thousands of our people who were forced to cross through Serbia. Some of them will now also have the airplane as an alternative. Train could also be an option. It is not a genuine offer for now. It practically has a weak infrastructure, not that much adequate for use,” he said, adding that it is not right to define this phase as resumption of the dialogue.

“I do not have the right to define it as dialogue. We welcome the fact that some agreements are happening. We have also  requested earlier for a dialogue without conditions, without lifting the tariff,” Haradinaj said. 

Thaci: Kosovo joins remembrance of the Holocaust victims (media)

The President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci used the International Holocaust Remembrance Day to say that Serbia continues to deny crimes committed in Balkans Holocaust: Bosnia and Kosovo.

“Kosovo today joins the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, a genocidal and monstrous crime that terrified the whole world. It was considered that after the World War II, the suffering of millions of cruelly murdered people would turn the Holocaust into an unrepeatable crime for humanity. But the idea and efforts to exterminate people and ethnicities were continued by the Serbian regime in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. The massacres and ethnic cleansing resembled those of World War II. And, unfortunately, even today, Serbia continues to deny the crimes that caused the Balkan Holocaust in this part of Europe, ” Thaci wrote.

Mustafa: Meeting with Kurti today, I am committed to an agreement (Express)

Isa Mustafa, leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) said today while entering the LDK headquarters that he will meet today with the leader of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) Albin Kurti.

“Yes, I believe there will be a meeting, the time is not set yet. We are always making efforts to reach an agreement; I am committed to agreement. It does not make sense to continue in another manner, we are making efforts,” Mustafa said. 

 

 Serbian Language Media

 

Djuric: Thaci abuses the Holocaust in an uncivilized manner (Kosovo Online, Radio Mitrovica Sever, Blic) 

If there was any humanity and diplomatic tact, Hashim Thaci would not seek to abuse the Holocaust, and the suffering of the Jewish people in World War II in a cheap and inappropriate way, which cannot be compared to anything or even the suffering during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, said director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric.

“Mr Thaci, you should be ashamed! Things like this are not done this way, and there is no excuse. Instead of diminishing the memory of Jewish victims in World War II, you could address the confrontation with your own war and criminal history and explain how it is possible that the territory where you serve as President of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government is systematically destroying evidence and kills witnesses of the KLA terrorist,” said Djuric.

According to him, Thaci showed superior ignorance and uncivilization by trying to introduce the term “Balkan Holocaust” into public communication, comparing Serbs with Nazis and Albanians with Jews.

In this way, he “acknowledged that he and his political like-minded people did not care about the victims or their families, but that victims and human sufferings were just another means of cheap political scoring,” Djuric said.

Borrell: We will do the best we know to facilitate Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (RTS)

The EU High Representative Josep Borrell and German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas discussed today in Berlin the situation in the Western Balkans and Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, RTS reports.

According to RTS Borrell said they would do the best they know to facilitate Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. He also informed the head of the German diplomacy about his plans to visit Belgrade and Pristina by the end of this week.

“When it comes to the Western Balkans, we have a common vision of how to achieve stability and security in this important region that is in our immediate surroundings,” Borrell noted.  

“We must be more united and have a common understanding of the world in order to develop stronger joint security and foreign policy,” Borrell added. He also called upon Germany to take a leading role in creating such a Europe.

Meanwhile, Borrell also commented on the meeting with Maas on his Twitter profile by saying – “Good meeting with my friend German Minister of Foreign Affairs @HeikoMaas this morning in Berlin. Discussed pressing international issues and European foreign policy action: Berlin #Libya conference, #JCPOA and Western Balkans. We will continue to work hand in glove”.

Railway line to be discussed in Berlin today, Djuric heads Serbian delegation (Tanjug, Radio KIM)

As per agreement of the US President’s Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, talks would be held in Berlin today focusing on restoring the railway line and cargo traffic between central Kosovo and south of central Serbia, Tanjug news agency reports.

The news agency added that Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric will head the Serbian delegation.

Only commercial topics will be discussed, the agency said, given that Belgrade’s request to restore political dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, is that the latter lifts 100 percent tariffs on goods from central Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Infrastructural connection of Belgrade and Pristina was one of the main topics of the talks between Vucic and Grenell during his stay in Belgrade last Friday. Grenell noted that US wants both sides to focus on the economy, opening new jobs and prosperity towards normalization of relations. He also noted that the agreement to restore the railway line between Belgrade and Pristina would be important to both sides.

Meanwhile, Tanjug also reported the meeting in Berlin lasted longer than three hours, however, the details of the meeting remain unknown.  

Godfrey: I hope dialogue will continue (FoNet)

US Ambassador to Serbia, Anthony Godfrey told FoNet news agency he hopes that Belgrade-Pristina dialogue would continue soon.

“In my opinion, it is a pity to lose all this time. I hope it would progress faster,” Godfrey said.  

He recalled that “President Trump clearly emphasised he wants this to be a priority to the US and that is why he appointed Ambassador Richard Grenell as his special envoy, and there is also a special envoy to the rest of the Balkans Mathew Palmer.”

“There is much political energy that the US invests in this matter. We want to see that people in the region understand and realize that through their economic interests this problem can be resolved,” Godfrey said.

Dacic: Grenell’s position nothing new, Quint states have similar opinion (BETA, N1)

Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic said Saturday that the position of US President’s Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell was nothing new, adding that the Quint states had taken a similar stance.

During his visit to Belgrade on Friday, Grenell said he had “informed his interlocutors in Kosovo” that they had to abolish tariffs on goods from Serbia, but that he also “made a request” to Belgrade for Serbia to suspend its campaign to retract recognitions of Kosovo independence.

“If everyone is for it, we are ready to achieve a moratorium, but then the lobbying of major countries for Kosovo must stop as well as the lobbying for Kosovo admission to international organizations. The image and attitude of major forces has changed and that pains them. Of the 193 UN member states. 93 recognized Kosovo, 95 do not and five countries are in a fluid state,” Dacic noted.

According to Dacic, Grenell’s visit is a positive sign, because it emphasizes economic topics, and these are useful initiatives. He also noted it shows that the position of the US administration has changed in the sense of advocating for a compromise solution.

Commenting on Grenell’s allegations that the deadline for reaching an agreement has not been set, but there is not much time, Dacic said the message was first and foremost addressed to Pristina.

“In essence, the dialogue is currently not being conducted because of the tariffs and there is ever less mention of the Brussels Agreement, which was not implemented by Pristina primarily when it comes to the formation of Community of Serb-majority Municipalities,” Dacic underlined.

See at: https://bit.ly/38INr40

Atlantic Council: Trump may be more successful in the Balkans than elsewhere (Beta, N1, VoA)

Damon Wilson, the current executive vice president at the Atlantic Council, a foreign and public policy think tank based in Washington, told Voice of America (VOA) on Friday he believed the US administration would be more successful in the Balkans than in Iran or North Korea.

“Hat down,” he said, to the Donald Trump’s Special Envoy to the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations Richard Grenell for negotiating the resumption of direct flights between the two capitals.

Wilson added the US administration wanted to see a result in foreign policy and that it was more achievable in the Western Balkans.

In an interview with VOA, he said that 100 percent import duties Pristina introduced on goods from Serbia and Bosnia over a year ago were an enormous economic obstacle, adding that “limited, probably corrupted forces” supported the taxes.”

“They boost the black market and encourage the cheaters, and it’s bad for the rule of law. It’s bad for both governments. The taxes can be lifted, and then we can talk seriously,” Wilson said.  

https://bit.ly/3aMFfl9

“Prva petoletka” basketball players banned to enter Kosovo at Jarinje (RTS)

“Prva petoletka” basketball players from Trstenik town were banned to enter Kosovo at Jarinje crossing point on Friday, RTS reports.

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija condemned the ban, terming it as “a delict that runs contrary to the contemporary civilizational values and common sense.”

The Office requested freedom of movement to be ensured, and Serbian people “at last to have the right to life without pressure and provocations recognized”. It also requested the international community to stop tolerating “Pristina’s arbitrary acts directed towards disenfranchisement and intimidation of the Serbs.”

“Prva petoletka” team was supposed to play a game in Mitrovica North against “Trepca” basketball team.

PDS municipal councillor in Gracanica joined Srpska Lista (Radio KIM)

Gracanica municipal councillor from Progressive Democratic Party (PDS) Sanja Mladenovic joined Serbian List (SL), Radio KIM reports, referring to the statement of SL.

The press statement said, Mladenovic has decided to support the policy of Serbian List, as it, as she said, makes efforts to help people remain in Kosovo.

Serbian List, with the latest change, has 15 out of total 19 councillors in the Gracanica municipal assembly, Radio KIM recalled.    

Political analyst Fatmir Sheholli summoned to the Hague (Radio kontakt plus)

Pristina-based political analyst Fatmir Sheholli has been summoned the Hague, Radio kontakt plus reports. Sheholli also confirmed the news to Klan Kosova, saying he would travel to the Hague.

“Yes, it is correct, I have received an invitation from the Special Court,” Sheholli said, adding he would defend values and dignity of Kosovo there, “in whatever capacity” he is invited.

Asked if he is summoned as a suspect or a witness, Sheholli said everything would be clarified in the Hague.

The Special Court for KLA Crimes was established in 2015. According to Kosovo media more than 250 former KLA members were summoned there up to date.

Opinion

 

The French non-paper: Are there any implications for Kosovo’s EU integration process? (EWB)

Almost two decades have passed since the Thessaloniki summit, whereby EU prospects were offered to the Balkan countries; however, the rule of law and social well-being in these countries are still lacking. Other sectors such as governance, education, and health suffer from poor quality and have been improving immensely slowly. Given that, France considered it necessary to offer a renewed approach to the enlargement policy by calling it the French non-paper.

On the other side of the discourse, many Balkan and EU analysts perceive the French non-paper as a product of justification for the blockade towards opening of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. While others view it as an attempt of the French to reflect more serious engagement in the Enlargement process after Macron’s statement that the EU needs to ‘deepen’ before it takes a decision to ‘widen’. No matter which of the three above viewpoints is more correct than the other, the French non-paper was introduced to the supranational EU institutions and is seriously being discussed at all levels of policy making and debate. Kosovo’s public discourse is no exclusion. Thus, one of the most frequent questions posed is – can the French non-paper affect Kosovo in its integration path? This opinion piece does not provide conclusions on the issue, but instead it discusses the new approach of the accession process and its implications on Kosovo’s integration path.

Different from the current enlargement process, the French non-paper introduces four principles including gradual association, stringent conditions, tangible benefits, and reversibility.

See more at: https://bit.ly/38JFlbm

International

 

Michel: Three pillars for future Western Balkans-EU relations (EWB)

“I hope to set the markers for the future relationship between the Western Balkans and the EU. The strategy that we must attempt to develop together is made up of three pillars”, said the President of the European Council Charles Michele at a press conference with the Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama in Tirana, according to a press release by Michel’s Cabinet.

https://bit.ly/2Gx75DL

Church Protests in Montenegro – Key facts (Balkan Insight)

BIRN presents the facts concerning ongoing church-led protests in Montenegro against a controversial law on religious freedom.

Tens of thousands of people – priests and followers of the Serbian Orthodox Church, SPC – are marching twice weekly in Montenegro in protest against a new law on religious freedom that the SPC says is designed to strip it of its property and land.

Following are the key facts about the protests: who the organisers are; what their demands are; and what responses there have been so far.

https://bit.ly/2U132HS

Humanitarian/Development 

 

What’s happening on the shores of Lake Badovc? (Prishtina Insight)

A new residential development planned close to Lake Badovc in Prishtina has found itself at the heart of a passionate debate between the public, the developers and Kosovo’s authorities.

A new residential development set to be built on the banks of Lake Badovc, an artificial lake and water resource a few kilometers outside Prishtina, has caused a clash between a newly formed protest group, Kosovo’s institutions and a design company registered in London and set up by members of Kosovo’s diaspora.

A team of activists and experts have launched a Facebook campaign drumming up support against the construction of the neighborhood, named ‘Lakeside Gardens.’ Badovc is one of Kosovo’s primary sources of drinking water, and activists believe that turning the lake’s surroundings into a residential area risks bringing a myriad of contaminants and environmental threats too close for comfort.

Baton Begolli is an advisor to the Inter-ministerial Water Council and a member of the campaign group. “We’re not saying don’t build houses anywhere, just not so close to strategic resources that we are reliant upon,” he tells Prishtina Insight.

See at: https://bit.ly/2S58maT

Possible protests over construction near Badovac lake (KiM radio)

The “Let’s do it” executive director Luan Hasanaj said he hoped the project, which involves building a settlement next to Badovac Lake, would be canceled and, if that did not happen, would not rule out citizens’ protests, reports KiM radio. 

“The construction here threatens drinking water and even the environment itself,” Hasanaj told Economy Online, expressing hope that the project would be canceled.

“We had some kind of debate with the Ministry of Environment and the Municipality of Pristina regarding the building permit at this site … Construction in this area will not happen,” Hasanaj said.

The Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning has asked the Pristina municipality to abolish the conditions for construction of settlements near Lake Badovac, he said, and urged citizens to be more aware and not to pollute the environment from which all of Pristina receives drinking water.

Teaching through the pain (Prishtina Insight)

The impossibility of early retirement in Kosovo is forcing over 200 teachers with serious illnesses to continue working in schools, with consequences for the teachers themselves, the children they teach and for the Kosovo education system.

Albanian language and literature teacher Emin Pajaziti encountered his first major problem when he had to teach verb conjugations. Pajaziti cannot stand on his feet because he suffers from a disease affecting his nervous system making it impossible for him to write even the name of the subject on the blackboard, let alone the numerous conjugations of Albanian verbs.

His difficulties prompted one of his students to stand up and write it for him. For Pajaziti, who teaches at the Vellezerit Frasheri (Frasheri brothers) Elementary School in the village of Cubrel near Skenderaj, this has now become a routine every day that he teaches.

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

Educated by another state (Prishtina Insight)

For struggling Roma families in Kosovo, generous social assistance schemes from the Serbian Government are hard to pass up. But in return, their children often attend Serbian language schools, leaving them unprepared for a future life and career in Kosovo.

There are currently 102 schools across Kosovo funded by the state of Serbia and educating children in the Serbian language. These parallel education structures have been in place since the end of the war in Kosovo, operating separately from schools that teach the Kosovo state curriculum.

However, it is not only Kosovo Serb pupils that attend these schools. 

See at: https://bit.ly/36shGe0

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