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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, January 7

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• PM Kurti gives interview to Voice of America
• Abazi: Kurti-led government will overcome all obstacles (Zeri)
• Veseli says 100 percent import tariff should not be lifted (media)
• EU to appoint Lajcak as special envoy for Kosovo – Serbia talks (Lajmi/Blic)
• Agim Veliu resigns post of Podujeve mayor (media)
• Haxhiu visits detention cell of the deceased LVV activist, Dehari (media)
• Varhelyi: Agreement with Kosovo, crucial for Serbia’a path to EU (Zeri)
• Kurti says approval of budget is first challenge of his government (media)
• Braathu: OSCE will continue to support Kosovo (Koha)

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  • PM Kurti gives interview to Voice of America
  • Abazi: Kurti-led government will overcome all obstacles (Zeri)
  • Veseli says 100 percent import tariff should not be lifted (media)
  • EU to appoint Lajcak as special envoy for Kosovo – Serbia talks (Lajmi/Blic)
  • Agim Veliu resigns post of Podujeve mayor (media)
  • Haxhiu visits detention cell of the deceased LVV activist, Dehari (media)
  • Varhelyi: Agreement with Kosovo, crucial for Serbia’a path to EU (Zeri)
  • Kurti says approval of budget is first challenge of his government (media)
  • Braathu: OSCE will continue to support Kosovo (Koha)

PM Kurti gives interview to Voice of America

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti gave an interview to the Voice of America in Albanian where he said that the government he leads aims to lift the tariff on Serbian goods after it introduces reciprocity measures towards Serbia. Kurti further said he does think it is impossible for an agreement with Serbia to be reached this year but added that he does not expect any substantial dialogue or outcome to come before elections in Serbia take place.

“We do not want revenge, we want justice. Reciprocity is correctness, it is a fair approach, it is in the registry of justice and I know that in one of his statements the U.S. President Donald Trump mentioned reciprocity as a value and concept that he holds dear,” Kurti said. He however added that while this issue is a priority for his government, “we have not yet fully settled and we need some time.”

“I think that when the 100-percent tariff was imposed in autumn of 2018, it was wrong not to meet our businesspeople and especially the producers, but we are where we are now and we will have to review also the economic aspect of this issue.”

“If we want good neighbourly relations, if we want normalisation, we have to behave normally and this means respect one another and not only love oneself. I therefore think that Serbia should change approach towards Kosovo because for a normalisation that everyone seeks, including the international community, Serbia more than Kosovo needs to change,” Kurti noted.

On the question of how he views dialogue with Serbia, Kurti said the process should be based on the Constitution of Kosovo. “I will set up my team in both the political and professional aspect and at the same time we will address the issue of those thirty-odd agreements with Serbia, what was their implementation, impact, why did something stagnate and this way we can proceed more safely forward. From the meeting we had with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mr. Borrell, who is also vice president of the European Commission, we agreed for the dialogue to be prepared well. We don’t have the luxury of another failure.”

Kurti further said the U.S. Ambassador to Germany and Special Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Richard Grenell, has energised the future dialogue. “I want to cooperate with Ambassador Grenell in this aspect but, parallel to importance of time we give to reaching agreements in the future, we also need to focus our attention at their content and the process we think can get us to an agreement.”

Speaking about relations between Kosovo and Albania, Kurti said that his first official visit outside Kosovo will be to Tirana where he will meet all leaders there: “I am not against initiatives for regional cooperation but the principle of reciprocity should prevail there and while the Republic of Albania knows better our southern and western neighbours, it is the Republic of Kosovo that knows better our eastern and northern neighbours and in this sense we can consider ourselves to be complete.”

Abazi: Kurti-led government will overcome all obstacles (Zeri)

Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister, Haki Abazi, said in an interview with the paper that the government of Kosovo led by Albin Kurti will be successful in overcoming all challenges along its four-year mandate, including that of electing the new president in a year’s time.

Abazi said that the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) have agreed to discuss the post of president of Kosovo when the time comes. “That issue is in the past and we will cross that bridge when the time comes,” he said.

Asked whether the Kurti-led government will take over the dialogue with Serbia, Abazi said: “We need to learn to respect important state documents. The Constitution states clearly who should be leading international negotiations, in this case with Serbia. The dialogue, so-called until now between Pristina and Belgrade and which should be a dialogue for resolving all problems with our neighbours, will be led by the prime minister of Kosovo, as required by the country’s laws.”

On the issue of visa liberalisation, Abazi said the government needs to be honest to the citizens and assess what each EU country position on the matter is. “Currently the situation is not good as there are members who are allies of Kosovo, have supported independence of Kosovo, but are against visa liberalisation not because of problems in implementation of criteria but because they believe the safety of their country is undermined if Kosovo continues to function by issuing birth certificates to people not born here,” he said. “Of course free movement of our citizens is one of our priorities because we think that the citizens of Kosovo deserve, no less than any other citizen of the Western Balkans, to realise the right to free movement.”

Veseli says 100 percent import tariff should not be lifted (media)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Kadri Veseli said on Thursday that he is concerned with what he called “the hastiness of the new Prime Minister to meet Serbia’s demands and to accommodate the Serbian List”.

Veseli said the 100 percent import tariff on products from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina should not be rescinded because it was a dignified decision by Kosovo’s authorities.

“The new government must not succumb to Serbia in the face of great challenges and decisions that await Kosovo,” Veseli wrote in a Facebook post. “The tariff on Serbian products was a dignified decision by our state in response to Serbia’s consequent attacks against Kosovo. I want to express my concern with the new Prime Minister’s hastiness to meet Serbia’s demands and to accommodate the Serbian List, which left the previous government because of the tariff. One government fell because of the tariff and this weakened Kosovo’s position for some time. This is why there should be no political manoeuvres on this sensitive topic which can further damage our country’s position.”

EU to appoint Lajcak as special envoy for Kosovo – Serbia talks (Lajmi/Blic)

Citing diplomatic sources in Berlin, Belgrade-based Blic reported on Thursday that Miroslav Lajcak is expected to be appointed the European Union’s special envoy for talks between Kosovo and Serbia. Lajcak, who currently serves as Foreign Minister of Slovakia, was reportedly recommended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “It is now official that leaders in Serbia and Kosovo have been informed that Lajcak will be leading the talks,” the sources said.

Agim Veliu resigns post of Podujeve mayor (media)

Deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), Agim Veliu, who was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs in the new government of Kosovo, resigned the post of Podujeve mayor leading the municipality to new elections.

The Ministry of Local Government Administration notified the president of Kosovo about Veliu’s resignation and it will be up to him now to announce extraordinary elections in the municipality.

“As soon as we receive official notification, all necessary steps will be taken within the legal timeline,” officials from the Kosovo President Hashim Thaci’s cabinet said.

Haxhiu visits detention cell of the deceased LVV activist, Dehari (media)

Justice Minister Albulena Haxhiu visited yesterday the detention cell of the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) activist Astrit Dehari where he was found dead in 2016.

She said her visit demonstrates the commitment of Kosovo institutions to shed light to circumstances that led to Dehari’s death. “You know that in 2016 a political activist, who was unjustly being kept in detention, lost his life in this correction facility. He was in the hands of the state but unfortunately the state failed to protect him,” Haxhiu said.

Asked by reporters to comment on the statement of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Kadri Veseli who called for opening of discussions into Dehari’s death, Haxhiu said: “Kadri Veseli should keep his hands away from this case. You know that before Astrit’s case happened there were threats from the Assembly’s stand by Kadri Veseli.”

Varhelyi: Agreement with Kosovo, crucial for Serbia’a path to EU (Zeri)

EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said yesterday in Belgrade that whatever Serbia has done on the path to European integration will not be enough to progress towards the EU without reaching an agreement with Kosovo.

“Agreements between Kosovo and Serbia are a crucial issue for the whole region. We are all looking to the two countries so that they can achieve a long-lasting peaceful agreement but this cannot happen on its own accord,” Varhelyi is quoted.

Kurti says approval of budget is first challenge of his government (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti said that the first challenge of his government will be the approval of the budget.

Kurti is reported to have made the comments in a meeting with Italian Ambassador Nicola Orlando where apart from the budget, they also discussed the government’s programme and dialogue with Serbia.

Braathu: OSCE will continue to support Kosovo (Koha)

Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani met yesterday the head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Jan Braathu, and said after the meeting that they discussed ways to increase cooperation.

Ambassador Braathu said on his part that the OSCE will support not only the Assembly speaker but all MPs. “The OSCE Mission in Kosovo is here to work for Kosovo. We are here to work with your MPs, your institutions, in order to promote good governance, democracy, human rights, and public security,” he said.

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