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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, February 12

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• Custin: Grenell never said U.S. investments in Kosovo will be cancelled (VOA)
• Grenell: Drop the tax to let investments work (media)
• Kurti: Visit to Tirana was not part of foreign policy (media)
• KFOR supports Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (RTK)
• Kurti to meet Vucic in March? (Gazeta Express)
• Wigemark: There is political interference in Kosovo judiciary (Koha Ditore)
• Italian FM requests from Kosovo resumption of dialogue (Epoka e Re)
• EP draft resolution urges visa liberalisation for Kosovo (media)
• Government expected to annul decision on salary increase (Telegrafi)
• EULEX requests for the rule of law to be priority in Kosovo (RTK)
• Kurti nominates Avni Zogjani Deputy Minister (media)
• Ivanovic’s former associate accused as accomplice to his murder (Zeri)

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  • Custin: Grenell never said U.S. investments in Kosovo will be cancelled (VOA)
  • Grenell: Drop the tax to let investments work (media)
  • Kurti: Visit to Tirana was not part of foreign policy (media)
  • KFOR supports Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (RTK)
  • Kurti to meet Vucic in March? (Gazeta Express)
  • Wigemark: There is political interference in Kosovo judiciary (Koha Ditore)
  • Italian FM requests from Kosovo resumption of dialogue (Epoka e Re)
  • EP draft resolution urges visa liberalisation for Kosovo (media)
  • Government expected to annul decision on salary increase (Telegrafi)
  • EULEX requests for the rule of law to be priority in Kosovo (RTK)
  • Kurti nominates Avni Zogiani Deputy Minister (media)
  • Ivanovic’s former associate accused as accomplice to his murder (Zeri)

 Kosovo Media Highlights

Custin: Grenell never said U.S. investments in Kosovo will be cancelled (VOA)

Dick Custin, spokesperson for the U.S. Special Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations Richard Grenell, said that Grenell has never said the U.S. would cancel projects and investments in Kosovo until the government drops the tariffs on Serbian products and gives up plans for introducing reciprocity measures.

Custin’s comment follows reports in RTK which stated that Ambassador Grenell spoke to Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani and made it clear to them that while the U.S. is ready to make multi-dollar investments in Kosovo “it will annul all these projects until the government drops the taxes and renounces plans for reciprocity.”

“Ambassador Grenell has consistently made it clear that tariffs damage Kosovo economy and send a bad message to the private sector that Kosovo is not a place to do business in. He has listened to many businesspeople in Kosovo, including several U.S. companies, that tariffs are harming them. Ambassador Grenell has made it clear to political leaders in Kosovo and Serbia that U.S. investments in Kosovo will not have the desired result to help the economy if the tariffs remain in force. And replacement of tariffs with more barriers by calling them ‘reciprocity measures’ will also be counterproductive for creation of new jobs for the youth,” Custin told VOA.

Grenell: Drop the tax to let investments work (media)

The U.S. special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo, Richard Grenell, has called on Kosovo to drop tariffs on Serbian goods.

Grenell took to social media to comment on a post that the head of the Millennium Foundation Kosovo and former foreign minister Petrit Selimi put up saying that further U.S. investment in Kosovo is planned. “Compact agreement is expected to provide big boost to energy infrastructure and enable public private partnerships bringing economic growth to Kosovo,” Selimi wrote.

Grennell responded: “The tariffs must be dropped in order for investments to work. It’s fundamental.”

Kurti: Visit to Tirana was not part of foreign policy (media)

Upon return from his visit to Tirana, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that while this was his first visit outside Kosovo, “it was not foreign policy.”

“It was ceremonial, not simply symbolic. Our two republics don’t have the luxury to view one another with diplomacy lenses.”

“I am sure that there will be very soon a new intensity of economic and educational cooperation, therefore I was accompanied today by the Finance Minister, Besnik Bislimi, and Education Minister, Hykmete Bajrami. These are fields where the approximation of Albania and Kosovo cannot tolerate any delay or obstacle,” Kurti wrote on Facebook.

He also said there was agreement with Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama to set up an inter-state commission that will look into the implementation of 77 cooperation agreements signed by the two governments and that they also agreed to hold a joint meeting of the governments late in March in Shkoder.

“Albania is ready to contribute for Kosovo and Kosovo is full of enthusiasm over such a cooperation. On issues of national importance we need to speak in one voice,” Kurti wrote adding: “I do not deny the achievements of the past but we are far from what our people wants, far from what is within our realistic opportunities. Our two countries are one another’s priority and there is no issue that can wait, in any field.”

Italian FM requests from Kosovo resumption of dialogue (Epoka e Re)

Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said during his official visit to Kosovo on Tuesday that the Italian state supports state institutions of Kosovo on reforms, economic development and creation of a perspective for the youth. Speaking about the issue of normalization of the relations with Serbia Di Maio called on Kosovo to return to the dialogue with Serbia and open way to the European Union membership. “Italy urges peace dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia,” he said.

KFOR supports Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (RTK)

KFOR Commander Major General Michele Risi met on Tuesday with the Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and informed him about the general situation in Kosovo and Western Balkans, focusing especially on the security and socio-economic aspects.

General Risi stressed KFOR’s commitment to guarantee a safe and secure environment as well as freedom of movement for all the people of Kosovo, supporting the EU sponsored dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.

Kurti to meet Vucic in March? (Gazeta Express)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti will meet for the first time with the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic in March in Berlin and Brussels. This was confirmed by the deputy leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Lutfi Haziri, who said these meetings are preparation for the Zagreb Summit.

“Let us see if Kosovo and Serbia will reach to prepare for the Zagreb Summit during their meetings Berlin and Brussels in March,” Haziri said.

“Sofia Summit did not have the effect and now the Zagreb Summit is being prepared for May. It did not happen for the EU to hold two Summits within three years, as Thessaloniki and Sofia have 15 years in between, while Sofia and Zagreb are very close, however, among the difficulties appearing for the Croatian President, the main one is the Balkans Schengen,” he said. 

Wigemark: There is political interference in Kosovo judiciary (Koha Ditore)

In a front-page interview with the paper, new head of EULEX Lars-Gunnar Wigemark stated that there is political interference in the judicial system in Kosovo and that his main task in the new capacity will be to serve the mission’s goals and be a trusted and reliable partner for rule of law partners.

“This is particularly important now with the new government, whose emphasized objective is having an independent, impartial, and professional justice system in Kosovo and restoring the trust in it,” Wigemark noted.

He said that corruption remains a concerning issue and that the fight against it has slowed down “in particular with regards to criminal investigation of high-profile cases.”

“External influence in criminal procedures remains a serious obstacle. More should be done to fight effectively corruption through reforms in the criminal justice field and rule of law.”

Wigemark said EULEX is monitoring selected cases, including those that have been previously treated by EULEX. “This monitoring is unique to the extent that it allows the mission to go beyond public judicial hearings and look at all the criminal justice chain – from investigations to the criminal prosecution, monitoring of trials and execution of sentences.”

He said that the EU mission will also continue to support the Kosovo Police through different aspects, including by facilitating exchange of information with Interpol, through UNMIK channel, and EUROPOL, as well as the Serbia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.

EULEX chief also spoke about war crimes in Kosovo and noted that whoever has committed them will be held accountable through regular judicial procedures. He said EULEX was unable to treat many alleged war crimes cases due to the Kosovo law not enabling trial in absentia. “Legislative changes are waiting at the Kosovo Assembly to allow trial in absentia for war crimes. I hope these changes, if adopted, will take into consideration applicable standards of human rights and, importantly, their effective implementation.”

EP draft resolution urges visa liberalisation for Kosovo (media)

European Parliament’s rapporteur for the upcoming EU-Western Balkans summit in Zagreb, Tonino Picula has prepared a draft resolution for the enlargement process based on the new methodology presented by the European Commission.

The draft resolution calls for immediate opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and for visa liberalisation for Kosovo stating that conditions have been met for such a measure to be introduced.

Government expected to annul decision on salary increase (Telegrafi)

The Government of Kosovo is scheduled to hold a meeting today and according to the news website, it will annul several decisions taken by the previous government led by Ramush Haradinaj.

One such annulment is expected to involve the increase the salaries for the government cabinet which Haradinaj-led government had approved in late 2017.

EULEX requests for the rule of law to be priority in Kosovo (RTK)

Kosovo’s Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani said on Tuesday that strengthening the rule of law as a precondition for economic development and wellbeing, will be among the priorities of Kosovo institutions.  She made these comments during her meeting with EULEX Chief Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, who congratulated Osmani on her new duty as Assembly Speaker.

Wigemark agreed that the rule of law should be priority in Kosovo. Mentioning that the new European Commission policy for enlargement places the rule of law as the basic element for European integration of Western Balkans, Wigemark expressed his will to increase the cooperation between Kosovo institutions and EULEX.

Kurti nominates Avni Zogiani Deputy Minister (media)

The Office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo informed through a press release that PM Albin Kurti nominated on Tuesday Avni Zogiani on the post of the Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Environment.

“Wishing success on his new duty to Deputy Minister Zogiani, PM Kurti said these two departments, infrastructure and environment will have the requires support of the government,” reads the press release.

Ivanovic’s former associate accused as accomplice to his murder (Zeri)

The preliminary hearing session into the killing of the Kosovo Serb political leader Oliver Ivanovic took place at the Kosovo Special Court in Pristina yesterday.

All six defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges while the indictment for Ivanovic’s former associate, Silvana Arsovic, has been amended and now accuses her of being an accomplice to his murder.

The next session has been scheduled by the judge for 16 March.

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