Albanian Language Media:
- Konjufca proposes not to apply for INTERPOL this year (Gazeta Express)
- Haxhiu: Government annulled two unjust decisions (media)
- Haradinaj slams decision to cancel salary raise, calls it “senseless” (media)
- Government dismisses national coordinators appointed during Haradinaj’s term (media)
- Kurti to participate at Munich Security Conference together with Grenell and Vucic (Klan, RTK)
Serbian Language Media:
- “Trump sent Grenell to ask Vucic, Thaci and Kurti a single question” (Tanjug, B92)
- Vucic to meet Grenell in Munich, Kurti will probably be in Germany (Tanjug, Radio KIM, N1)
- Reeker: We’ll stand by Serbia as partner and friend on its path to EU (VoA, N1)
- Odalovic: Revoking tariffs major challenge for Kurti (RTS)
- Returnee in Istok arrested over alleged war crime, Office for KiM, Serbian List condemn arrest (Tanjug, RTV)
- Milena Ivanovic: Fact that Silvana Arsovic is indicted is scandalous (Kosovo-online)
- Kosovo’s New PM Visits Albania in First Official Trip Abroad (AP/NYT)
- Journalists’ Abductions, Killings in Kosovo ‘Not Properly Investigated’ (Balkan Insight)
- Suspects Plead Not Guilty to Kosovo Serb Politician’s Murder (Balkan Insight)
- Kosovo Faces Challenge to Resolve Battles over University Accreditation (Balkan Insight)
Albanian Language Media
Konjufca proposes not to apply for INTERPOL this year (Gazeta Express)
Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Glauk Konjufca requested at the meeting of the government to consider the possibility of Kosovo not applying for INTERPOL membership this year. Konjufca said that based on internal analysis, Kosovo’s position with regards to the support, has not changed.
“It is a pressing issue; it is the active application of Kosovo at the INTERPOL that has to be activated very soon. According to internal analysis of the Ministry that I represent, the situation does not seem optimistic compare to the past years. To be honest, as far as support is concerned, Kosovo’s position has not changed if we compare it to the last two years. Based on analysis of all parameters, Kosovo would have the same result if it applied this year,” Konjufca said.
“We propose to have a meeting next year, which is much more suitable for us, as it will be held in Turkey, a country where greater work could be done. We inherited a grave situation and Kosovo’s failure for INTERPOL membership already happened to us. I think that this issue will be decided on 1 and 2 March, we should inform respective institutions that Kosovo will not apply this year, based on sources and advice of our friends.
I propose to consider this and come up with a decision, as it is important not to fail, as failures are not good for the Republic,” Konjufca said.
Prime Minister Albin Kurti said he will treat the matter with urgency.
Haxhiu: Government annulled two unjust decisions (media)
Kosovo’s Justice Minister, Albulena Haxhiu, said the Government in its meeting today annulled decisions which she said were unjust.
“First, the unlawful decision of the former Government to increase salaries for itself. This decision will not have a legal effect for the salaries of prosecutors and judges and judges of the Constitutional Court.
“The second decision that was annulled is that for salaries of benefit to former governments, after the mandate.
“These decisions are a clear message that the Kurti Government will be in the service of citizens and not in the service of oneself.”
Haradinaj slams decision to cancel salary raise, calls it “senseless” (media)
Former Prime Minister of Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj has reacted to the decision of the new government to annul the salary increase for the members of the cabinet calling it “an unnecessary populist” move which has no impact on reality.
“Today’s decrease of the salaries for the cabinet is a completely political and senseless act knowing that the final ruling of the Constitutional Court on the Law that regulates not only the salaries of this cabinet but also the future ones is expected in a matter of days and that the salaries for this month will be as they were for everyone. An ordinary deceit with this action today, done for headlines and quick political points, at the back of the fundamental constitutional principle of the country,” Haradinaj wrote on social media.
Haradinaj warned that the decision on salaries taken by the Albin Kurti-led government could be a dangerous precedent displaying lack of respect for the Constitutional Court, as the highest legal authority: “A normal government would suspend all actions on the issue and would wait respectfully for the final decision of the Constitutional Court.”
Government dismisses national coordinators appointed during Haradinaj’s term (media)
The government of Kosovo has taken the decision in its meeting today to dismiss all national coordinators, appointed during Ramush Haradinaj’s term in office.
The decision will affect the following posts: the national coordinator for state reforms; coordinator on climate change and environment; on culture, youth and sports; coordinator against violent extremism and terrorism; coordinator for integration and NATO membership.
Kurti to participate at Munich Security Conference together with Grenell and Vucic (Klan, RTK)
The Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti will participate at the annual security conference in Munich, Germany.
The Office of the Prime Minister confirmed the news for Klan Kosova.
The U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Richard Grenell and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic will also participate at the Conference.
In a separate article, RTK has published the list of the participants at the Conference, reporting that Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci will also attend. According to the media, state leaders of the most powerful European countries will attend the Munich Conference, which will be held from 14 to 16 February.
Serbian Language Media
“Trump sent Grenell to ask Vucic, Thaci and Kurti a single question” (Tanjug, B92)
U.S. Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Richard Grenell says that despite the progress made, there is a long way to go in normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
Speaking on a radio show hosted by U.S. radio journalist Hugh Hewitt about the announced rebuilding of Belgrade-Pristina airline and railway traffic, Grenell said yesterday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s goal was to use the economy to raise political issues.
He estimated that “some small agreements” had been reached during the dialogue. “But I do look at the road ahead as still long in trying to get to normalization. But what we have is some progress”, Grenell said. He said he was asked by President Trump to test the waters to see if Kosovo and Serbia and their respective leaders were interested in some sort of a deal, so he went there and started talking to them. “And what I found in talking to both sides and the private sector, the business community on both sides was my first meeting, I found that they just really wanted a normalization on the economic front”, Grenell concluded.
So, the goal became how do they begin to move commerce to a more normal level. “And what we round was that air and rail and highway travel needed to be normalized. We needed to have the first flight from Pristina to Belgrade in 21 years. And so we started working on that, and we were able to get an agreement”, Grenell noted.
“We also have an agreement on railway, and really being able to get the entire region more connected by railway, and that means commerce is flowing. It’s really the Trump goal of trying to use the economy to really drive forward political issues”, Grenell said in a radio show.
Speaking about the war waged on Kosovo and Metohija, Grenell said that “this was the hot issue that the Clinton administration was working on, and NATO was involved with”, adding that this conflict and a war shaped his understanding about the Balkans and even about Europe, “and so it’s humbling for me to be now there trying to push these parties together”, Grenell concluded.
“I do think in a typical Donald Trump administration fashion, we are pushing the parties together, and trying to not have this kind of U.S.-centric idea that’s imported, you know, onto these countries, but to really say to president Vucic, President Thaci and the new prime minister in Kosovo, Albin Kurti, to say you know, do you all have the political will to move forward, create jobs for your young people, and really change the economic outlook? And I think the answer is yes, although the political situation is tough”, Grenell said in a Hewitt radio show.
“I keep telling the parties we’re going to concentrate on the economy, and we’re going to try to build jobs for young people so that they stay in the region. And let’s put the political issues aside until we can create some momentum on the economy”, Grenell noted.
See at: https://bit.ly/2tOXEgk
Vucic to meet Grenell in Munich, Kurti will probably be in Germany (Tanjug, Radio KIM, N1)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said his visit to Munich where he will attend Security Conference on Thursday and Friday, would be of great importance to Serbia, because he would be able to better assess “what are the further steps of Pristina government, what are the steps of Germany, Americans and all others in the international community,” Radio KIM reports.
He added he would meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in March but did not disclose the exact date of the meeting.
Vucic also said he expects to meet US President Donald Trump Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina talks, Richard Grenell in Munich. He noted the Munich schedule is very tight with many panel discussions, bilateral meetings, talks with the German MPs, the US senators and congressmen as well as prime ministers.
“We’ll see what the plan will cover. Perhaps in a joint panel in Munich I will take part at, Albin Kurti will also be present. So, we’ll see what the atmosphere will be,” Vucic told Sputnik.
He said that after the Munich Conference, a meeting with the Serbs from Montenegro, Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovian) and the Serb NGOs from Montenegro was planned in Belgrade.
On February 16, Vucic added, he would be in Brussels to meet the European Council President Charles Michel.
A day later, Vucic will meet Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu in Belgrade, while, as he says, on March 24, Serbia will host Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Vucic announced that Shoygu “is bringing something” but that he cannot talk about it, and will let his guest speak, adding Shoygu was one of Serbia’s honest and long-time friends.
Asked about the recent events in Montenegro that followed Podgorica’s Law on Religion, Vucic said Serbia would not interfere with Montenegro internal policy “but would fight for the rights of our people in Montenegro and the survival of the Serbian Orthodox Church there. Not by force but in a decent, democratic, legal way.”
He added he supported the people who had been staging protests against the law across Montenegro.
Reeker: We’ll stand by Serbia as partner and friend on its path to EU (VoA, N1)
The US is strongly committed to the Western Balkans and encouraged by the latest developments of the events between Serbia and Kosovo, Philip Reeker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, said on Wednesday at the celebration of Serbia’s Statehood Day in the Congress Library in Washington, organised by the Serbian Embassy in US, BETA news agency reports.
Reeker, who oversees the portfolio of 50 states, has mentioned ups and downs in the US-Serbia relations throughout history and said his country would stand by Serbia as a partner and friend as long as it fulfilled its goals – the membership in the European Union and the reforms.
“The US appreciates its partnership with Serbia, and we share the vision of democratic Serbia with a developed economy, in peace with the neighbours and completely integrated into the EU. The normalisation of relations with Kosovo is important for achieving these goals,” Reeker said.
He added Washington was encouraged by the recent letter of intent signed by Belgrade and Pristina to restore the direct flights between the two capitals, “to secure the borders were connected not divided.”
“This is a practical step which will enable investments, tourism, commercial links and those between people. There are also talks on re-establishing the railway traffic. As I told (Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on normalisation of relations) Rick Grenell – what’s next?,” Reeker said.
He added that when Grenell was appointed as the White House’s special envoy and Matthew Palmer as the State Secretary’s special emissary, Washington showed once again that the issue was a US diplomatic priority.
“I congratulate you on Statehood Day and wish you, the people of Serbia, all the best, believing that there are many years of fruitful co-operation and friendship ahead of us. Thank you,” Reeker said in Serbian.
Serbian Ambassador to the US Djerdj Matkovic confirmed that the appointments of Palmer and Grenell were seen as a strong expression of the American support and told the VOA that solving the Kosovo issue remained the biggest challenge in the US-Serbia relations.
He added it was good that Serbia achieved significant progress in relations with the US regarding Washington’s understanding that the Kosovo problem should be solved at the mutual satisfaction or with equal unhappiness of both sides.
See at: https://bit.ly/3bz1tXV
Odalovic: Revoking tariffs major challenge for Kurti (RTS)
Serbian Foreign Affairs Ministry Secretary General, Veljko Odalovic told RTS it is the most important to revoke the tariffs and create conditions to continue the dialogue. Odalovic added this is a moment for Albin Kurti to get the strength, and regardless of announced protests and resistance revoke the tariffs.
He also opined this will be a major challenge for Kurti.
Speaking for RTS morning news programme, Odalovic further noted “it seems the latest messages addressed to Pristina (regarding the tariffs) were never so clear. And as per rule if messages from these centres were coming to Pristina this loud, they would be respected and I hope that these days a solution would be found, and decision made.”
Commenting on Kurti’s statements on reciprocity, Odalovic said the fact that Kurti has a problem how to present this for internal consumption, and therefore mentions reciprocity, something that he also does not know what it means is Pristina’s internal matter.
He underlined it is the most important to revoke the tariffs and create conditions to continue the dialogue.
Returnee in Istok arrested over alleged war crime, Office for KiM, Serbian List condemn arrest (Tanjug, RTV)
A returnee Zarko Zaric from the village of Ljubozda in Istok municipality was arrested today over alleged war crimes and transferred to Pristina, Tanjug news agency reports.
Zaric returned to his home village in Kosovo, three years ago, and according to Kosovo-online portal passed security and judicial verifications. Prior to the 1999 conflict, Zaric worked as a police officer.
Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director, Marko Djuric and Serbian List condemned the arrest.
“Arrest of Zarko Zaric is a brutal example of instrumentalization of judiciary in Kosovo,” Marko Djuric said, adding that returnees in Kosovo are the most jeopardized group on European continent.
“We demand immediate release of Zarko Zaric, or offering credible evidence based on which he is suspected of committing a grave criminal act, although he returned to Kosovo three years ago and passed the verification by Pristina provisional institutions. The Office for Kosovo and Metohija, in any case, will provide lawyer and all necessary legal help to Zaric,” Djuric said.
He also said that Pristina by such periodical and random arrests attempts to discourage more than 200.000 displaced Serbs from Kosovo to think of returning.
Serbian List also condemned the arrest, saying that Zaric was arrested in a church after attending a liturgy. Serbian List said the arrest is politically motivated aiming to prevent the return of the Serbs in Kosovo.
“The situation in which Serbs need to prove their innocence, rather than that prosecution proves they are guilty, needs to end once for all,” Serbian List said in a statement.
Milena Ivanovic: Fact that Silvana Arsovic is indicted is scandalous (Kosovo-online)
Milena Ivanovic, wife of the murdered Civic Initiative Freedom, Democracy, Justice (SDP) leader Oliver Ivanovic, told TV Pink on Wednesday that she did not believe in the sincere intentions of the Pristina authorities to solve the murder, adding that the indictment is full of illogical things and what was most shocking for her was the fact that Silvana Arsovic, Oliver Ivanovic’s closest associate, is in the indictment.
“What is the most horrific, which was the biggest shock for me is that one of Oliver’s closest associates, Silvana Arsovic is indicted”, Milena Ivanovic told TV Pink.
She added that she thought this was scandalous.
“Some people have been in detention for a long time because they allegedly assisted some of the people who organized Oliver’s murder. We have neither the names of the killers nor the names of those who commissioned it. There are a lot of illogical things, I’m sceptical from the start, as far as these indictments are concerned” she said.
Kosovo’s New PM Visits Albania in First Official Trip Abroad (AP/NYT)
The new prime minister of Kosovo traveled to Albania for his first official trip Tuesday but while there resisted the idea of participating in a regional cooperation initiative that would improve both countries’ chances of becoming European Union members in the future. .
The leaders of Albania, Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro have met regularly in recent months to discuss how cooperation in the Western Balkans could advance separate national efforts to join the EU. The regional initiative has been dubbed “mini-Schengen,” after Europe’s Schengen Area that allows passport-free travel between more than two dozen countries.
See at: https://nyti.ms/3bsJ3rY
Journalists’ Abductions, Killings in Kosovo ‘Not Properly Investigated’ (Balkan Insight)
International missions in Kosovo did not do enough to find out who kidnapped or killed Serbian and Albanian journalists from 1998 to 2005, according to a new probe by the Serbian Journalists’ Association.
International missions in Kosovo did not conduct proper investigations to establish who abducted or killed journalists and media workers in Kosovo during and after the war, said an investigation launched on Tuesday by the Serbian Journalists’ Association, UNS.
The author of the UNS investigation, Jelena Petkovic, said that 15 journalists had been killed or abducted in Kosovo from 1998 to 2005 – Shaban Hoti, Ismail Berbatovci, Djuro Slavuj, Ranko Perenic, Afrim Maliqi, Enver Maloku, Ljubomir Knezevic, Aleksandar Simovic, Krist Gegaj, Momir Stokuca, Marjan Melonasi, Shefki Popova, Xhemajl Mustafa, Bekim Kastrati and Bardulj Ajeti.
Two German journalists from Stern magazine, Gabriel Gruner and Volker Kramer, along with their translator Senol Alit, were also killed in June 1999.
Petkovic said that only the case of journalist Aleksandar Simovic was treated as a war crime by the EU’s rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, and that in some of the cases, EULEX claimed that it did not have records.
“In response to our intention to find out what happened to the investigations into the murders and disappearances of our colleagues, we came to the devastating conclusion that there were no attempts to effectively investigate the [cases of the] Albanian and Serbian journalists,” Petkovic said at the launch of the investigation in Belgrade.
See at: https://bit.ly/39yNLTr
Suspects Plead Not Guilty to Kosovo Serb Politician’s Murder (Balkan Insight)
Six defendants accused of involvement in the 2018 murder of Kosovo Serb political party leader Oliver Ivanovic insisted they were innocent as their trial opened in Pristina.
The six defendants in the Oliver Ivanovic murder trial – Nedelko Spasojevic, Marko Rosic, Silvana Arsovic, Dragisa Markovic, Zarko Jovanovic and Rade Basara – all entered not guilty pleas as their trial for assisting the killing of the Kosovo Serb politician began on Tuesday at Pristina Basic Court.
Spasojevic, Rosic, Arsovic and Basara are all accused of being part of a criminal group that organised the murder of Ivanovic, who was shot outside his political party’s office in January 2018. Markovic and Jovanovic are both former Kosovo policemen.
Spasojevic and Jovanovic admitted the illegal possession of weapons at Tuesday’s hearing while denying the other charges.
Prosecutor Syle Hoxha said that all the defendants had been provided with a translated copy of the latest version of the indictment, after a previous hearing was postponed because they did not have the amended document in Serbian.
But their lawyers complained that they have still not been given access to all the evidence – particularly video footage recorded by security cameras outside Ivanovic’s political party office when he was shot.
See at: https://bit.ly/38iSMiI
Kosovo Faces Challenge to Resolve Battles over University Accreditation (Balkan Insight)
Albin Kurti’s new government is under pressure to address serious problems in higher education that have led students to claim they paid to enrol at colleges that they did not know were not accredited.
As Albin Kurti and his new coalition government assume office in Kosovo, a big challenge facing the new Education Minister, Hykmete Bajrami, is to clear up the mess in the country’s higher education system. This has yet to recover from years of political interference and from the dysfunctional activities within the higher educational accreditation agency, the KAA.
At the end of last month, on BIRN’s Life in Kosovo show with host Jeta Xharra, the outgoing Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Shyqiri Bytyqi, dismissed the acting director of the KAA, Avni Gashi, citing “irregularities.” He then appointed Shkelzen Gerxhaliu, the former senior officer for monitoring and evaluation at the KAA, in his place.
See at: https://bit.ly/2OL2pi8