Albanian Language Media:
- Kosovo and Albania set up commission for intergovernmental agreements (media)
- They start with disagreement: Kurti seeks Albanian macro-Schengen, Rama regional mini-Schengen with Serbia (Express)
- In Tirana, Kurti meets Speaker Ruci, President Meta, opposition leader Basha (media)
- Palmer: Russia wants Balkans with an element of chaos in it (RFE)
- Osmani meets heads of UN Agencies (RTK)
Serbian Language Media:
- Brnabic: I hope Pristina will revoke tariffs soon (RTS)
- “Germany wants to get directly involved in solving Kosovo issue” (Sputnik, B92)
- Dacic: Serbia wants to know if EU will expand to Western Balkans (BETA, N1)
- US hopes EU will open talks with Skopje, Tirana in March, worries about Russia (RFE, N1)
- UNS presents research on missing and murdered journalists in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
- Jevtic: I expect government to work in interests of all citizens (RTV Puls)
- Stefanovic comments on US calls to Pristina to revoke tariffs (RTS)
- Indicted in Oliver Ivanovic’s murder case pleaded not guilty (RTS)
- Embracing Europe’s Power (Project Syndicate)
- S. Envoy Urges Kosovo To Drop Tariffs On Serbian Goods ‘With No Reciprocity’ (RFE)
- Why Europe Cannot Afford To Get It Wrong On The Western Balkans (Forbes)
- Winter Sports Festival Hopes to Thaw Kosovo’s Ethnic Freeze (Balkan Insight)
- Gifted but ‘ignored’ (Prishtina Insight)
Albanian Language Media
Kosovo and Albania set up commission for intergovernmental agreements (media)
Kosovo and Albania have agreed to set up an inter-state commission consisting of ministers and MPs to follow implementation of agreements reached by the two governments and create conditions for new ones.
The decision was announced at a joint press conference between Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Albania’s Edi Rama.
“The 77 agreements that have been signed so far need to be implemented and more should come. Coordination needs to be deepened and expanded,” Kurti said adding that the commission will look into different aspects such as “double controls and checks as well as the fact that to have a work permit in Kosovo you need to have a residence permit and vice versa – these constitute a series of anomalies that we will tackle and eliminate so that our two countries become closer and integrated for the sake of the citizens who not only have the right to such cooperation and approximation but also need it.”
Rama meanwhile announced that the next joint meeting between the governments of Albania and Kosovo will take place in Shkoder and that preparations for it will commence immediately.
They start with disagreement: Kurti seeks Albanian macro-Schengen, Rama regional mini-Schengen with Serbia (Express)
Albin Kurti spoke for the first time in Tirana as Prime Minister of Kosovo, at a joint press conference with Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama.
Kurti started the press conference by expressing appreciation for Albania’s help to Kosovo during the war and after it.
“On this occasion, I want to thank the Republic of Albania for the unsaved, unreserved help for Kosovo. Kosovo would not be able to stand up to Serbia in war and neither in peace without Albania.
He added that he and his Albanian counterpart will advance as two Prime Ministers.
“This is the first meeting, there are many issues that we will treat. We have discussed this matter (the mini-Schengen), but very little,” Kurti said.
“This meeting was more about Albanian macro-Schengen, then Balkans mini-Schengen,” Kurti added.
However, Albania’s Prime Minister did not agree with Kurti’s priorities. Rama said they should initially discuss Balkans mini-Schengen.
“There is no Albanian macro-Schengen without Balkans mini-Schengen,” he said.
In Tirana, Kurti meets Speaker Ruci, President Meta, opposition leader Basha (media)
In his first visit to Albania after taking on the post of prime minister, Albin Kurti also met Assembly Speaker Gramoz Ruci, President Ilir Meta and opposition leader, head of the Democratic Party (PD), Lulzim Basha.
Ruci said he believed the government of Kosovo, under Kurti’s leadership, will successfully overcome all challenges. “Your sacrifices as a consequent politician are a guarantee for accomplishment of this mission and for bringing to life the ambitious governing programme,” he said.
Ruci added that the Assembly of Albania will remain committed to cooperation with Kosovo institutions.
Kurti on his part thanked Ruci for the support. “We will cooperate with the Government of Albania for easing procedures for implementation of agreements signed between the two countries, signing new agreements and easing movement of goods and services between Albania and Kosovo,” Kurti said.
Meta congratulated Kurti on his election and wished him success. “I remain hopeful that the Kurti Government will use all opportunities to be an example for the region,” Meta said.
Meta also said that Albania supports dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia for normalisation of relations. “In this context, we welcome the efforts of the U.S. and the EU for renewing dialogue,” Meta said adding that it is important for all political forces in Kosovo to be united around a comprehensive dialogue platform.
Basha meanwhile thanked Kurti for the visit and assured him that cooperation with Kosovo is a priority for his party. “Today and tomorrow we will continue strong support from the Republic of Albania towards the Republic of Kosovo for international recognition and the visa-free travel for citizens of Kosovo. Kosovo can fully rely, as has until now, on PD for any assistance,” Basha said.
Palmer: Russia wants Balkans with an element of chaos in it (RFE)
The U.S. Special Representative for Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, said that Russia wants to see the region as ‘split, against itself and with an element of chaos in it.”
Speaking to Radio Free Europe from the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, Palmer said the U.S. is concerned with Russia’s activity and its intentions in the Western Balkans. “If I were to identify some, I would underline Russia’s efforts to diminish support for the Prespa Agreement between Skopje and Athens. That is an example of Russian state’s malign activity,” Palmer said. He added that Russia wants the Balkans to be a zone where it “can take the level of tensions up and down.”
Palmer said the U.S. has a positive vision for the Western Balkans. “A vision for a region in peace with itself, in peace with neighbours, stable, wealthy, and integrated in the European family of nations. This is not Russia’s vision.”
Osmani meets heads of UN Agencies (RTK)
Kosovo’s Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani hosted today a meeting with heads of the United Nations Agencies in Kosovo, among them heads of UNICEF in Kosovo, UN Habitat, UN Women, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNOPS and others.
On this occasion, the Assembly Speaker received congratulations of the heads of United Nations Agencies for her election as Speaker of the Assembly and they also discussed cooperation in the next four years.
Serbian Language Media
Brnabic: I hope Pristina will revoke tariffs soon (RTS)
Following the US call to revoke 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia, without seeking reciprocity, everything depends upon Pristina and Albin Kurti now, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said, RTS reports.
She added revoking the tariffs is important for the future, Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, but equally important for the Albanians as well.
“The only way to leave the past behind us is the dialogue, cooperation, offering different perspectives to the people, because on the contrary everybody would leave away from here, and I do not know who would Kurti fight for in that case,” Brnabic noted.
“I hope they will revoke the tariffs soon, return to the negotiation table and that we will continue the dialogue. Now there are also concrete initiatives leading towards better economic cooperation,” Brnabic pointed out.
“Germany wants to get directly involved in solving Kosovo issue” (Sputnik, B92)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to show Germany’s intention to get involved directly in resolving the Kosovo issue, former diplomat Zoran Milivojevic told Sputnik portal
According to Milivojevic, Merkel showed this by inviting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to Berlin, but also by inviting Kosovo newly elected Prime Minister, Albin Kurti.
He added that by doing so, Germany wants to make clear that this is a European issue, but also that it is interested in pursuing its interests and goals, both on its own and on behalf of the EU. Germany is in a hurry, Milivojevic adds, for two reasons – first because Germany will hold the EU presidency in the second half of the year, so they want progress in that field, and second because Chancellor Merkel is in her final year in office.
“Merkel is now in a position to transfer her influence to this issue and achieve the result at this very moment,” Milivojevic said, adding that Chancellor Merkel’s authority is undeniable, her influence is still strongest in the EU.
Milivojevic sees the announcement of the appointment of an EU envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, who is already certain to be Berlin-led, as a commitment by Germany, which has a leading role in the EU, that this area should remain under EU competence and that this region should, above all, be part of the European integration process, in line with the geo-strategic interests of the Union and because traditionally this area is the sphere of influence of Germany.
Asked how much influence German Chancellor Angela Merkel has on Kosovo newly appointed Prime Minister Albin Kurti, and whether she can “push” him to suspend tariffs and discuss a compromise solution, Milivojevic says he sees three motives for Germany in talking to Kurti.
“The first is that she is directly involved because of her interests, the second is that Kurti says he will lead the next negotiations and will obviously insist on it as the chief executive and the third motive is that she has informed Kurti that she has a specific perspective on the future negotiations that are different from the current position”, Milivojevic noted.
Kurti, as he explains, appears more radical, and at least from what we have heard so far, leaves little room for dialogue, which is why it is quite natural and logical for Merkel and Kurti to talk so that the Chancellor herself could determine the facts, Kurti’s positions and how she could further influence that position on her own.
As for the “pressure” exerting on Kurti, Milivojevic says that the West has a decisive influence not only on Albin Kurti, but in general on the entire ruling Albanian structure in Kosovo.
“This system and this government cannot function without the support of the West. On the one hand, in the political and security sense without the US, and when it comes to the EU and Germany, there are certainly finances, and political support, without which that regime and system would not be able to survive socially, economically and politically”, he says.
However, he adds, the views of the US and Germany do not coincide when it comes to the Kosovo issue, but are in some ways contradicted.
See at: https://bit.ly/2tRsRj6
Dacic: Serbia wants to know if EU will expand to Western Balkans (BETA, N1)
Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic said Monday that Serbia wants to know whether the European Union will expand into the Western Balkans, BETA news agency reports.
“It’s important for us to know whether the EU will continue expanding or not and that is why we are asking Italy for a clear answer whether the Union wants Serbia or not. We just want to know the situation,” Dacic told a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio.
Dacic said that the region has a lot of bilateral problems, adding that the European future of the Western Balkans is important in resolving them, while Di Maio said that his country feels that the EU expansion into the Western Balkans is of crucial importance.
“I believe that it’s good for the EU to expand its horizons at the moment that it is faced with Brexit,” Di Maio said.
Di Maio met earlier with the Seriban President Aleksandar Vucic who told him that Belgrade is prepared to resume the dialogue with Pristina once the tariffs on Serbian goods are revoked and expressed the hope a compromise solution to the Kosovo issue can be found. The Italian Foreign Minister also had a separate meeting with the Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.
See at: https://bit.ly/3bs1Vr9
US hopes EU will open talks with Skopje, Tirana in March, worries about Russia (RFE, N1)
Washington hopes the European Union will open accession negotiations with both Tirana and Skopje next month, and that it will consider their European road necessary, Matthew Palmer, the US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, has told the Bulgarian service of Radio Free Europe (RFE). He added his country worries about an increasing attempt by Russia to influence the Western Balkans region,
Palmer also said late on Monday that the question the European Council would face in the meeting in March was whether to open the talks with North Macedonia and Albania, the FoNet news agency quoted RFE. Palmer said Washington hoped the answer would be yes.
“We think both countries are deservedly qualified. We also think that it is an important signal that has to be sent to the region. North Macedonia and Albania must have a clear European path and perspective,” Palmer noted.
He added he was worried about the Russian influence on the Western Balkans and “its attempt to undermine the international support, regarding the agreement between Skopje and Athens that ended the 27-year-old dispute over the name which stopped Greek opposition to Macedonian accession to NATO and the EU.
“We’re worried about Russian intentions regarding the Western Balkans,” Palmer said.
He opined that Russia “favours the Western Balkans which is fragile, split and has the elements of chaos, the region in which it can increase the tension level to use the situation and create strife between the Western Balkans and the international community.”
See at: https://bit.ly/2OJzvPr
UNS presents research on missing and murdered journalists in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
The Association of Journalists of Serbia (UNS) will present today in Belgrade a research about murdered and kidnapped journalists and media professionals in Kosovo in the period from 1998 to 2005, Radio KIM reports.
The UNS research lasted more than three years and includes talks and interviews with the families, friends and co-workers of murdered and kidnapped journalists. Prosecutors and police officers who worked in Kosovo at the times when these crimes occurred, as well as important international political stakeholders were also interviewed.
The aim of the research about murdered and kidnapped journalists and media professionals in Kosovo and Metohija is to make the public and fellow colleagues informed about these tragic events that still do not have epilogue two decades after.
The presentation of the research includes two panels. The first one “Stories of Families and Colleagues” will start at midday, and speakers include RTS Assistant Director Milivoje Mihajlovic, RTS journalist Rade Maroevic, former Tanjug journalist Nebojsa Radosevic and Radio City journalist Ivana Petrovic.
The research incorporates findings about 17 murdered and kidnapped journalists in Kosovo, out of which four are still missing.
The second panel will focus on what the responsible institutions could do in order to shed the light on fates of journalists and media professionals, and what are the perspectives to have these crimes prosecuted. Speakers include President of the Commission for Investigating Murders of Journalists, Veran Matic, UNS Secretary General Nino Brajovic and President of Association of Journalists of Serbia in Kosovo, Budimir Nicic.
The moderator of the panel is the author of the research about missing and kidnapped journalists in Kosovo and Metohija, Jelena L. Petkovic.
Jevtic: I expect government to work in interests of all citizens (RTV Puls)
Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic met with German Ambassador in Pristina Christian Heldt and discussed future cooperation, economic empowerment and the need to restore Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, RTV Puls reports.
Minister Jevtic said he expects the new Kosovo government to work in the interests of all its citizens because this is the only way to develop relations among all peoples living in Kosovo.
The two officials also agreed that economic empowerment is a key to resolve many problems. It is one of the ways to overcome barriers, Jevtic and Heldt noted.
Ambassador Heldt congratulated Jevtic on his appointment and expressed hope the cooperation between them would be as good as it was in the previous period.
Stefanovic comments on US calls to Pristina to revoke tariffs (RTS)
Serbian Internal Affairs Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said he appreciates the US pressure on Pristina to revoke the tariffs, adding he expects it would yield results, RTS reports.
US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina talks Richard Grenell earlier said that 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia should be revoked, and that he is against an idea of reciprocity, that Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti announced earlier.
“I was not always an optimist, it seems to me that pressure (on Pristina) could be stronger,” Stefanovic told journalists after receiving a donation to the police from Germany.
Stefanovic also pointed out that the issue of tariffs is an issue of international law, because Pristina has signed CEFTA agreement, in line with UN SC Resolution 1244. He noted that Pristina violates the CEFTA agreement, and unfortunately there are no sufficient sanctions for it.
“The message, in particular from the EU, is not sufficiently strong, when you accept something, you can not violate it unilaterally, or you simply should get out of it and say you are not on the European path. Then, there are different rules in the game,” Stefanovic concluded.
Indicted in Oliver Ivanovic’s murder case pleaded not guilty (RTS)
All persons charged with the involvement in the murder of Oliver Ivanovic pleaded not guilty at today’s hearing in the Basic Court in Pristina, RTS reports.
Indicted Nedeljko Spasojevic, Marko Rosic, Dragisa Markovic, Zarko Jovanovic, Rade Basara and Silvana Arsovic pleaded not guilty for the involvement in the murder of Oliver Ivanovic.
The prosecutor, while reading the indictment, said that “criminal group lead by Zvonko Veselinovic and Milan Radoicic is responsible for the murder of Oliver Ivanovic.” The prosecutor further claimed the accused persons took part in the activities of this group and aided in carrying out a criminal act of grave murder. The hearing took part based on a new, amended indictment.
Defence lawyers have one-month to respond to the indictment and after that the judge would decide whether to initiate the court process, RTS reported.
Embracing Europe’s Power (Project Syndicate)
Europeans must deal with the world as it is, not as they wish it to be. And that means relearning the language of power and combining the European Union’s resources in a way that maximizes their geopolitical impact, writes EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell.
“The geopolitical upheavals we are witnessing today underline the urgency with which the European Union must find its way in a world increasingly characterized by raw power politics. We Europeans must adjust our mental maps to deal with the world as it is, not as we hoped it would be.”
Borrell says that diplomacy cannot succeed if it fails to be followed by action: “If we want the Western Balkans to succeed on the path of reconciliation and reform, we need to offer a credible EU accession process delivering incremental benefits.”
U.S. Envoy Urges Kosovo To Drop Tariffs On Serbian Goods ‘With No Reciprocity’ (RFE)
The U.S. special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo, Richard Grenell, has urged Kosovo to drop tariffs on Serbian goods without introducing measures of “reciprocity” in trade, politics, and economy, his press officer told RFE/RL.
“The ambassador is pushing for them to drop the tariffs with no reciprocity. So, Kosovo should drop the tariffs on Serbian goods, and not implement reciprocity. So, no reciprocal measures. Not just suspend the tariffs but drop them entirely,” Dick Custin said in a February 10 statement.
See at: https://bit.ly/31Hdo1m
Why Europe Cannot Afford To Get It Wrong On The Western Balkans (Forbes)
With one member down since Brexit, Europe is doing all it can to get its eastern neighbours on side as part of its enlargement plans.
Trying to break a deadlock for the six Western Balkan countries joining the bloc, the European Commission on February 5 announced a series of changes to the system for letting new countries into the group to placate France.
See at: https://bit.ly/38gzUAF
Winter Sports Festival Hopes to Thaw Kosovo’s Ethnic Freeze (Balkan Insight)
Winter Tribe, a new winter sports and music festival in the Kosovo mountains, aims to bring young people from the country’s divided communities together to ski, dance and collaborate.
Vuk Nikolic is a Serb who was born and grew up in Kosovo’s capital Pristina – but like many others, his family left the country after Serbian forces withdrew at the end of the war in 1999.
Unlike the majority of Serbs who fled Kosovo, however, the Nikolic family returned after a couple of years and moved back into their summer house in Brezovica, a tiny settlement in the mountains in the south of Kosovo best known for its ski resort.
See at: https://bit.ly/2UEPbHw
Gifted but ‘ignored’ (Prishtina Insight)
Kosovo’s education system is built to fit the average student and is in most cases unable to support the needs of gifted children with extraordinary intelligence and talents.
The quality of the education system in Kosovo has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, especially following the disappointing results Kosovar students have achieved on standardized international tests, including PISA.
But it is not just the students registering poor scores. In 2019, the Human Capital Index measured the quality of education offered, rather than testing students. The results were no less worrying.
See at: https://bit.ly/2SyMSDs