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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, February 13, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, February 13, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Pompeo writes to Kurti: Lift the tariff for Kosovo and Serbia dialogue to resume (Express)
• Albin Kurti defers a bit to Thaci: Invites him for consultation (Express)
• Thaci travels to Germany to participate at Munich Security Conference (RTK)
• Kurti nominates Jusuf Thaci as Deputy Minister for education (RTK)
• Swiss president congratulates Kurti on election (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Dacic: Compromise is our greatest concession towards Kosovo (Danas)
• “Moscow will find a solution if Belgrade calls on Russia” (Sputnik, B92)
• Carpenter: No progress on Kosovo issue before elections in Serbia (VoA, N1)
• Brnabic: The situation is unstable; Vucic was forced to react promptly (B92)
• Djuric discussed with Falconi security situation in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
• Returnee interviewed by Special Prosecutor’s Office, denied being arrested (KoSSev, Kosovo-online)
• Serbian media: Another country to withdraw recognition of Kosovo (B92, Sputnik)

Opinion:

• Why 2019 was Year Kosovo will Want to Forget (Balkan Insight)

International:

• Kosovo’s new PM, cabinet accept halving of their salaries (Reuters)
• Kurti’s Ambitious Promises Will Test Kosovo Govt’s Resolve (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovo Detains Serb Ex-Policeman as War Crime Witness (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Pompeo writes to Kurti: Lift the tariff for Kosovo and Serbia dialogue to resume (Express)
  • Albin Kurti defers a bit to Thaci: Invites him for consultation (Express)
  • Thaci travels to Germany to participate at Munich Security Conference (RTK)
  • Kurti nominates Jusuf Thaci as Deputy Minister for education (RTK)
  • Swiss president congratulates Kurti on election (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Dacic: Compromise is our greatest concession towards Kosovo (Danas)
  • “Moscow will find a solution if Belgrade calls on Russia” (Sputnik, B92)
  • Carpenter: No progress on Kosovo issue before elections in Serbia (VoA, N1)
  • Brnabic: The situation is unstable; Vucic was forced to react promptly (B92)
  • Djuric discussed with Falconi security situation in Kosovo (Radio KIM)
  • Returnee interviewed by Special Prosecutor’s Office, denied being arrested (KoSSev, Kosovo-online)
  • Serbian media: Another country to withdraw recognition of Kosovo (B92, Sputnik)

Opinion:

  • Why 2019 was Year Kosovo will Want to Forget (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • Kosovo’s new PM, cabinet accept halving of their salaries (Reuters)
  • Kurti’s Ambitious Promises Will Test Kosovo Govt’s Resolve (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovo Detains Serb Ex-Policeman as War Crime Witness (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Pompeo writes to Kurti: Lift the tariff for Kosovo and Serbia dialogue to resume (Express)

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has written to the Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti, a week after he took over his duty as head of the government.

I congratulate the citizens of Kosovo for successful and democratic elections. We welcome the formation of the government of Kosovo and expect to work together, in order to proceed with our joint aims on economic growth, rule of law and normalization of relations with Serbia,” Secretary Pompeo writes.

“We welcome your pledge to combat corruption while struggling to support aspirations of the Kosovo people, including their will for greater transparency and economic opportunities. Now is the time for you to understand that comprehensive normalization of the relations with Serbia, focused on mutual recognition, is essential for complete international integration of Kosovo. The United States will stand by you, in support of this process,” he noted.

“Conclusion of the tariff on Serbian and Bosnian products would help the parties to return at the negotiating table. We hope and expect that this will be your priority and that you will use the created momentum from the letters which aim to establish the airline and railway between Pristina and Belgrade.”

“We expect to work closely with your new government in order to ensure prosperity of a multiethnic and democratic Kosovo,” Pompeo reportedly wrote.  

Albin Kurti defers a bit to Thaci: Invites him for consultation (Express)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti invited today through an official letter the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci to coordinate position on foreign policy on the verge of the Security Conference in Munich, Germany.

He has requested from Thaci to meet today, letting several schedules available for the meeting.

“Foreign policy is the one that should unite us. The most dignified presentation of our Republic goes beyond all of us. Let us give the entire intellectual and patriotic capacity in the presentations and meetings that we will have. I invite you today at 12:00, 16:00 or 17:30 hours or even in the evening to meet and coordinate together on our issues and position,” Kurti wrote.

Thaci travels to Germany to participate at Munich Security Conference (RTK)

The President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci travelled today to Germany to participate at the Munich Security Conference.

“At the margins of the Munich Security Conference, President Thaci will be conducting various bilateral meetings, among others with US Senators Ron Johnson and Chris Murphy, State Department Assistant Secretary Phillip Reeker, Political Director of the UK Foreign Ministry Richard Moore and with the Foreign Minister of Slovakia, Miroslav Lajcak.

Under the auspices of this conference, President Thaçi will also be meeting with President Trump’s special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Ambassador Richard Grenell,” informs the Office of the President. 

Kurti nominates Jusuf Thaci as Deputy Minister for education (RTK)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti nominated today Jusuf Thaci as Deputy Minister for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.

Wishing him good work, PM Kurti said that Mr. Thaci’s professional experience will be a great asset to the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, and that his contribution in this institution is more than required.  

Swiss president congratulates Kurti on election (media)

President of the Swiss Federation, Simonetta Sommaruga, congratulated Albin Kurti on becoming prime minister of Kosovo. 

“It is my pleasure to convey to you my sincere congratulations on your appointment as Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo,” Sommaruga said. 

“Switzerland and Kosovo have close human ties and enjoy friendly relations. In addition, our two countries have joint interests, in particularly with regards to stability and prosperity of the Western Balkans. Switzerland is engaged in achieving these important objectives.”

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Dacic: Compromise is our greatest concession towards Kosovo (Danas)

Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic said today the greatest concession Serbia could make towards Kosovo is a compromise, FoNet news agency reports. Asked to comment on information that yet another state is set to retract recognition of Kosovo, Dacic responded it is being worked on that.

“We are working on that, but we do not announce it in advance. If we say so, then it certainly won’t happen because they (Pristina) would immediately go there,” Dacic told Happy TV.

Dacic added he has asked Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic a few days ago should they continue the campaign to retract recognitions of Kosovo, and Vucic said they go ahead. According to him Pristina’s request is unreasonable, because it requests Serbia to end its campaign to retract recognitions and they would in return lift tariffs on the goods from central Serbia.

Dacic also opined it would take time between signing the agreement on Belgrade-Pristina airline and its actual realization, adding the agreement is positive, Belgrade supports it and thinks it could have a positive effect. Commenting on Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Dacic said that he wants “Great Albania” and that he is “a provisional prime minister of the Kosovo Government.”

Dacic further said that Albania works on erasing the border with Kosovo, however it is criticized over it, while at the same time they work on “mini-Schengen” with Serbia and are hailed for that, adding that “mini-Schengen” means that borders are erased.

Asked if Serbia would be exposed to pressure to recognize Kosovo, Dacic underlined it is unrealistic if anyone expects that.

“Moscow will find a solution if Belgrade calls on Russia” (Sputnik, B92)

Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko reiterated that Russia is ready to help with Belgrade-Pristina dialogue if Belgrade asks for its assistance. He also said that there is nothing new in Western efforts to find a compromise in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.

As he told Sputnik portal, all efforts so far are reminiscent of running on conveyor belt track – a lot of energy is consumed, but there is no real movement forward and so far he hasn’t heard anything encouraging from Albin Kurti. According to him, what he heard does not encourage or give any impetus to establish dialogue.

“The most important thing is the unconditional removal of tariffs. That is the first and most important task. We have heard something, but under some conditions, which is not clear. Anyway, nothing new that would provide an opportunity for compromise, and a solution is only possible on the basis of compromise. That is clear to everyone”, Botsan-Kharchenko said.

He pointed out that Russia’s position on Kosovo has not changed and that Russia does not see Resolution 1244 as part of existing efforts and discussions, and it must be involved, as it is, as he said, “the basis for regulating Kosovo problem and reaching solution.”

Asked if the involvement of additional international mediators will bring something new, Botsan-Kharchenko pointed out that he has heard a lot of calls for a solution as quickly as possible.

“The timeframe is the enemy of compromise. Compromise is possible only in an open dialogue, without restriction, with the help of mediators who are dedicated, devoted and in no way inclined to one side. Balance is necessary here, but above all pressure on Pristina. I started with urging Pristina to at least suspend tariffs”, he said.

Talking if Russia is considering appointing its mediator, Botsan-Kharchenko says that the most important signal for Moscow is Belgrade’s attitude and reiterated Moscow’s readiness to help resolve the Kosovo issue if Belgrade asks for its assistance.

“Russia is not staying out of the situation. Russia is a member of the UN Security Council and there can be no solution without the Security Council,” he noted, adding that UN SC Resolution 1244 is there to serve as a guideline until a new resolution is introduced.

Asked if this means that Russia is ready to appoint its mediator on Belgrade’s request, the Russian Ambassador says he cannot envisage future moves, but that Moscow will find a solution if Belgrade calls on Russia to do that.

See at: https://bit.ly/2HlS4oY

Carpenter: No progress on Kosovo issue before elections in Serbia (VoA, N1)

Former senior Pentagon official Michael Carpenter told Voice of America on Wednesday it would be difficult to achieve any progress in Belgrade-Pristina relations before elections in Serbia, due in April. He also urged to form a stabilization fund for both sides.

“Do I think it’s possible, certainly it is. I think a lot more efforts and resources have to be invested but I will say this in defence of (the US President’s envoy) Ambassador (Richard) Grenell – I think he achieved a lot in talks to renew direct flights,” Carpenter, who is now Senior Director of the Penn Biden Centre for Diplomacy and Global Engagement said. He also served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence and advisor to the-then US Vice-President Joe Biden.

Carpenter further opined that a decision of the Kosovo government to revoke 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia would be a very positive signal.

“If he (Grenell) manages to achieve that, I think he will at least be able to achieve greater progress in the near future. I think he has to resolve some of the reasons for the dispute and animosity between the two sides, including the tariffs, before he can really get to work on an agreement. That is the road that Grenell is on now,” he said.

According to Carpenter, the difficult part will be putting something on the table that is acceptable to most Serbs and most Albanians. He said that was never realistic without significant funds and investments, especially a stabilization fund. Carpenter recalled that he has been urging the European Union and US to put the stabilization fund option on the table and show the two sides that they will see reconstruction, jobs, economic growth and infrastructure once an agreement is reached.

Carpenter also thinks the solution to the conflict can’t be complete unless Serbia recognizes Kosovo. He said the US has interest in the stability and security of the Balkans because it enables countries of the region to join Euro-Atlantic institutions.

Brnabic: The situation is unstable; Vucic was forced to react promptly (B92)

Situation in the region is turbulent, which is least in favour of Serbia, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said, pointing out that President Vucic reacted promptly, B92 reports.

Brnabic said that Vucic invited Serbs from Montenegro and Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herezgovina) to come to Belgrade on Saturday to discuss the situation, adding that the state of Serbia would strive to continue calling for peace and stability.

“Vucic will talk to them on Saturday on how best to help and support them, but also how we can try to further calm the situation in the region, this is least appropriate for us,” Brnabic said, answering a journalist’s question about how she sees the situation in Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and pertaining to the rising tensions in the region.

See at: https://bit.ly/38p0mrV

Djuric discussed with Falconi security situation in Kosovo (Radio KIM)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric met yesterday French Ambassador to Serbia Jean-Louis Falconi and discussed security and political situation in Kosovo as well as problems Serbs face there on a daily basis, Radio KIM reports.

According to the Office for KiM statement, Djuric said Belgrade is ready to continue the dialogue with Pristina, as soon as conditions are created, adding the international community can provide valuable contribution to move the process of normalization of relations out of the stalemate.

Djuric added Belgrade insists that Pristina revokes the tariffs unconditionally, in order to create conditions to continue the dialogue on normalization of relations.  

“It is necessary to exert pressure on Pristina to give up blocking the dialogue and finally implement what has been agreed in Brussels, foremost enable establishment of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities with essential authorities and instruments for effective protection of the position and interests of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija,” Djuric said in a statement.

Returnee interviewed by Special Prosecutor’s Office, denied being arrested (KoSSev, Kosovo-online)

A returnee from the village of Ljubozda, Istok municipality, Zarko Zaric who was taken yesterday 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, KoSSev portal reports.

The news was confirmed by Zaric himself to RTK2, after Zvecan-based Kosovo-online portal reported that he was arrested over alleged war crimes. 

Meanwhile, in a statement to the Kosovo-online portal Zaric said that he was brought in on Wednesday but returned to his village of Ljubozda near Istok after the questioning. He said that two inspectors in civilian clothes and one Kosovo police officer came to take him at the church in Ljubozda yesterday morning and, as he described it, brashly pushed him into the car.

“A Kosovo policeman pushed me into the car, they did not show me the summons/invitation, I was afraid that this was an arrest”, Zaric told the portal. 

He stated that he was interrogated at the Special Prosecutor’s Office of Kosovo as a witness about the events during 1998 and 1999 in the village of Dobrusa near Istok. “I made a statement, there was no mistreatment, they behaved appropriately, I signed the statement”, Zaric said.

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, precising no other information. The Special Prosecutor’s Office remains silent on the case, KoSSev portal reported. 

 

Serbian media: Another country to withdraw recognition of Kosovo (B92, Sputnik)

Another country should revoke recognition of Kosovo by the end of the week, Sputnik portal reports saying it has learnt from diplomatic sources. Unless unforeseen changes occur, it will be the 18th country to revoke recognition of Kosovo, B92 said.

The Serbian state leadership was under pressure in recent weeks by the Western power centres to give up lobbying activities for de-recognition of Kosovo, while Pristina is pressured to revoke 100 percent tariffs on goods from central Serbia, B92 recalled.  

However, the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that this political swap was unacceptable and that it was an unfair exchange.

Since declaration of independence of Kosovo (in 2008) until 2012, 84 countries recognized Kosovo, and since 2014, when Ivica Dacic assumed the role of foreign minister, 17 countries have withdrawn recognition, while seven have recognized Kosovo, B92 said.

 

Opinion 

 

Why 2019 was Year Kosovo will Want to Forget (Balkan Insight)

As a new government finally takes office, things can only get better for Kosovo after a year of economic stagnation, diplomatic setbacks, educational mismanagement – and worse pollution than ever, Visar Xhambazi writes for Balkan Insight.

The year 2019 was one for Kosovo to forget. None of the “big issues” were tackled effectively and many problems were inherited from previous years. As 2020 unfolds, and Kosovo celebrates its 12th birthday, there is not much to celebrate after a year of stagnation and many scandals.

See at: https://bit.ly/3bDdlIO

International

 

Kosovo’s new PM, cabinet accept halving of their salaries (Reuters)

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti and cabinet ministers will accept a halving of their salaries in an attempt to demonstrate that the new government plans to tackle wage inequality.

Kurti’s predecessor, Ramush Haradinaj, doubled his salary two years ago from 1,500 euros ($1,637) to 2,950 euros, a move that drew strong criticism in a country where one third of the population is unemployed. His ministers also got big pay increases.

See at: https://reut.rs/38q3J1P

Kurti’s Ambitious Promises Will Test Kosovo Govt’s Resolve (Balkan Insight)

Kosovo’s new government under Albin Kurti has pledged to carry out a long list of social and economic reforms, which many observers say will be hard to pull off.

Kosovo’s new government under Prime Minister Albin Kurti and his Vetevendosje party have pledged to oversee deep changes in the country – which is only fitting for the first government that this party has ever led, after years spent in opposition.

At the first government session on Tuesday, Kurti urged ministers to start working immediately, claiming that “the first 100 days will be busy days with maximum commitment and dedication”. They didn’t waste any time. A little more than a week after, in the second government meeting, Kurti asked his cabinet to withdraw the decision of the former government to increase ministerial salaries by almost 100 per cent, and restore wages to their previous level.

Kurti has pledged, among other things, to shrink the state administration and make it more efficient, starting with his own cabinet, so that they become true public “servants”.

See at: https://bit.ly/31PbHz7

Kosovo Detains Serb Ex-Policeman as War Crime Witness (Balkan Insight)

Kosovo police detained a former Serb policeman, Zarko Zaric, for interview as a witness in a war crimes case, sparking an angry reaction from the authorities in Belgrade.

Police on Wednesday detained Zarko Zaric, who was a policeman in Kosovo before the war, for questioning as a witness in a war crime case.

Media reported that Zaric, a Serb who left Kosovo after the war but returned to live there again three years ago, was held in the village of Ljubozda in the Istog/Istok municipality and then taken to the capital Pristina to be interviewed.

“The Kosovo police, with the authorisation of the Special Prosecution of Kosovo, accompanied a person of Serb nationality to interview him,” police confirmed to BIRN.

No details of the war crime to which Zaric was allegedly a witness have been made public so far.

See at: https://bit.ly/3byexgd

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