- Kosovo government revokes decision on pay increases (TV stations, RTK)
- Serbia drafts agreement on Balkans ‘Mini-Schengen’ (TV21, GazetaExpress)
- Deputy Prime Minister Abazi meets with OSCE Ambassador Jan Braathu (portals, Lajmi.net))
- Minister proposes Kosovo give up application for Interpol membership this year (TV stations, portals)
- Reopening of War Crimes Institute announced (KTV)
- Returnee interviewed by Special Prosecutor’s Office, denied to be arrested (Kossev)
- Assembly session on voting of committees to be held on Thursday (Koha.net)
- Kurti says tax on Serbian goods to be replaced with reciprocity measures (Summary of KTV’s Rubikon show)
Kosovo government revokes decision on pay increases
(TV stations, RTK)
Kosovo’s new Government on Wednesday has revoked a controversial decision of Former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj on doubling wages for top government officials.
New Prime Minister Albin Kurti convened his Cabinet on Wednesday and decided to annul a decision taken by his predecessor Haradinaj. In September 2017, the Haradinaj Government signed a decree on an increase of salaries, doubling it for the prime minister from 1,500 Euro to 2,950 Euro. The move was widely criticized by the then opposition parties and civil society representatives.
Kurti, who won early election in October after Haradinaj’s resignation in July 2019, promised that one of his decisions in Government would be decreasing salaries of his cabinet.
The Prime Minister’s decision had a chain effect on other salaries of public sector employees, particularly in the justice sector. The salaries of judges and prosecutors are tied to the salaries of elected high officials. However, Prime Minister Kurti explained the new decision does not affect salaries of the justice sector.
Serbia drafts agreement on Balkans ‘Mini-Schengen’
Belgrade officials circulated last week a draft of the deal on regional cooperation initiative dubbed as “Mini-Schengen.” TV 21 quoting diplomatic sources reports the document is already in the hands of some embassies, and that “there is no negative reaction to the ‘draft’”
Following meetings between Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, the Serbian government has prepared the first draft for co-operation between the three states in the field of trade and commerce.
Diplomatic sources in Pristina told TV21 that “the draft is already in the hands of some embassies”, and that “there is no negative reaction to the ‘draft’”
TV21 was granted access to the draft (English version, which reportedly is in three languages) that the Serbian government is expected to submit to Tirana and Skopje soon. The “parties”, as the draft memorandum describes Albania, Serbia and Macedonia, aim at removing all obstacles to the “progressive growth” of trade. Kosovo is not mentioned in the draft.
Pristina has reacted strongly to Tirana for engaging in such relations with Serbia, since Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo as a state, nor its borders. Kosovo leaders have boycotted meetings held in Tirana and Skopje. The draft outlines simplified procedures for “cross-border” co-operation, including the exchange of information and data from specialized offices for food, veterinary and phytosanitary. Serbia, through this draft, foresees that Tirana and Skopje, in addition to trade, will also cooperate and “exchange classified information by border authorities”, including customs.
Deputy Prime Minister Abazi meets with OSCE Ambassador Jan Braathu
Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister, Haki Abazi, met with Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador Jan Braathu and his adviser, Senad Sabovic. The meeting had an informational purpose where both sides expressed their readiness to continue the cooperation.
Ambassador Braathu congratulated Abazi on the new post, while Abazi expressed readiness of the Kosovo Government for further cooperation with the OSCE Mission.
Minister proposes Kosovo give up application for Interpol membership this year
(TV stations, portals)
Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Glauk Konjufca, asked the Government to suspend plans on joying Interpol this year. Konjufca said that based on internal analysis Kosovo lacks support to become full-fledged member of this international police organisation.
Kosovo withdrew its application to join the International Criminal Police Organization, Interpol, in 2019 due to lack of support at the General Assembly of this organisation. Kosovo’s Interpol membership bid failed in 2018 due to a lack of support after Serbia’s aggressive campaign against Kosovo’s application, GazetaExpress reports.
“A prompt action is needed because Kosovo’s bid to join Interpol will be soon activated. Based on internal analysis of the Ministry I represent, current situation is not optimistic comparing with previous years,” Konjufca said during Government’s meeting on Wednesday.
He also said the Ministry of Internal Affairs would make all the preparations to reapply for Interpol membership next year. Prime Minister Albin Kurti has promised to address this proposal with high priority.
Reopening of War Crimes Institute announced
Almost two years after closing down of the Institute for War Crime Investigation, the new Government has announced to reopen it.
Former Director Ismet Salihu believes that re-functionalization of a war crime institute is indispensable. Salihu criticized the previous Government, which, according to him, was never committed to empowering the Institute.
Former Justice Minister Abelard Tahiri, justifying closing down of the Institute, accused Vetëvendosje of the possibility to use opening of the Institute for employment of the political party militants.
However, the current Justice Minister Albulena Haxhiu, calling on Tahiri not to be hasty with such statements, said that preliminarily they will assess the current situation, and subsequently they will act in line with the Government commitments.
On the other hand, representatives of the Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) in Kosovo, say that the War Crime Institute needs to have a clear mission, in order to be applied into practice.
Bekim Blakaj of HLC, mentioning many initiatives taken investigation and documentation of war crimes but that were not implemented, says that the Institute would make sense only if it does not interfere in the work of the Prosecution Office.
Twenty-one after the war, Kosovo still has no archive and official data about the war crimes and damage.
Returnee interviewed by Special Prosecutor’s Office, denied to be arrested
A returnee from the village of Ljubozda, Zarko Zaric, who was taken today in front of the village’s church for an interview with Special Prosecutor’s Office in Pristina has been released in the course of the same day.
The news was finally confirmed by Zaric himself to RTK2, after a Zvecan based Kosovo online portal published that he was arrested over war crimes charges, to be followed then by harsh reactions from Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Srpska Lista.
In the meantime, more Kosovo Serb media reported on the arrest citing their sources, while Kosovo police spokesman Daut Hoxha confirmed to KoSSev the detention of a Serb male for a hearing, as per the authorization of Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office, but he gave no further information. The Special Prosecutor’s Office remains silent on the case.
Zaric has been living as a returnee in the village of Ljubozda for the past three years. He did not have any similar problems with the law so far, Radio Gorazdevac reported earlier today. Some media outlets claim Zaric worked as a police officer before the Kosovo conflict.
Assembly session on voting of committees to be held on Thursday
The Assembly of Kosovo Press Office has announced that a plenary session on the formation of Assembly committees will be held on Thursday.
The session will start at 10:00 am, Koha.net reports.
Kurti says tax on Serbian goods to be replaced with reciprocity measures
(Summary of KTV’s Rubikon show)
Talking about the call of the US special envoy for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Richard Grenell, for rescinding the tariff on Serbian goods, the Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that although Grenell has a lot of energy and no bad intention, the Balkans issues and Kosovo-Serbia relations are a little sensitive. In this regard, Kurti claimed to have shown willingness to revoke the tariff.
“I have shown willingness to revoke the 100 per cent tariff, and that should be done once the principle of reciprocity is applied,” he said.
“I do not believe that both tariff and reciprocity are needed at the same time. We (and the US) listen to each other a lot, but that does not mean that we agree on everything. We will elaborate the principle of reciprocity. Kosovo can implement reciprocity but it is not doing so. For instance, Serbia does not recognize Kosovo vehicle number plates; the Republic of Kosovo could reject Serbia’s vehicle number plates, too, and this would be reciprocity.
“We have the right to prevent Serbian trucks from entering Kosovo, because we have no agreement on road transport. We are moving slowly, wisely, safely, and we will elaborate exactly what reciprocity is,” Kurti added.
Speaking about the dialogue with Serbia, Kurti said, “We are not close to negotiations; many things need to be clarified. Just because we meet at the Berlin Process, it does not mean that I am negotiating. I should have been on a panel with Vucic, but he did not come. I have expressed readiness to such discussions, but they have not come. These conditions should be discussed during preparations for the dialogue. There will be a dialogue for dialogue.”
He added that the current Serbian government has no legitimacy to resume the dialogue. “There can be no real dialogue without the legitimacy of the Government in Serbia, because elections are to be held there,” he said.
Prime Minister Kurti said he has accepted the current flag of Kosovo, but he has not concealed his desire to change it.
“I have accepted this flag. The big change happened in 2010, when we decided to enter elections. That is the essence of our change, which, I believe, is not an essential change. We have a lot of other work to do. Would I like to have a different flag? Yes, I would,” Kurti stated.
He added that Kosovo does not need an independence on paper.
“Since 2006, we have warned that we do not need an independence on paper. I have said that even Vojvodina has a flag, but that does not mean that you are a state. The flag of Kosovo was decided based on the idea: more independence from Albania than from Serbia. During our term, the state committee will be working and it will convene sometimes in Prishtinë/Pristina, and other times in Tirana. We do not rule out a referendum, if one day we get closer,” Kurti said.