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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, February 14, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, February 14, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on motorway and railway signed (media)
• Thaci: Railway agreement, a message of peace (media)
• Who signed the agreement for the railway between Kosovo and Serbia? (Express)
• Grenell calls today’s signed agreements historic (Express)
• Haradinaj applauds agreement between Kosovo and Serbia (media)
• LDK’s Hyseni: Agreement in Munich, a step in the right direction (Zeri)

Serbian Language Media:

• Vucic met Grenell in Munich (B92, Tanjug)
• Vucic happy to see progress, thanks Trump for support (Tanjug)
• Djuric on railway agreement: We took care everything to be in line with Constitution (BETA, N1)
• Rakic: Better communication, faster transport of goods and services (Radio KIM)
• Blakaj: To identify 400 bodies that are still in Pristina (N1)

International:

• France, US, Pile Pressure on Kosovo to Scrap Tariffs (Balkan Insight)
• Further transport agreements reached between Kosovo and Serbia (Prishtina Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• BIRN Launches ‘If You Were Here’ Missing Persons Campaign (Balkan Insight)
• Kurti: There never was a more education-dedicated government (Koha)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on motorway and railway signed (media)
  • Thaci: Railway agreement, a message of peace (media)
  • Who signed the agreement for the railway between Kosovo and Serbia? (Express)
  • Grenell calls today’s signed agreements historic (Express)
  • Haradinaj applauds agreement between Kosovo and Serbia (media)
  • LDK’s Hyseni: Agreement in Munich, a step in the right direction (Zeri)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Vucic met Grenell in Munich (B92, Tanjug)
  • Vucic happy to see progress, thanks Trump for support (Tanjug)
  • Djuric on railway agreement: We took care everything to be in line with Constitution (BETA, N1)
  • Rakic: Better communication, faster transport of goods and services (Radio KIM)
  • Blakaj: To identify 400 bodies that are still in Pristina (N1)

International:

  • France, US, Pile Pressure on Kosovo to Scrap Tariffs (Balkan Insight)
  • Further transport agreements reached between Kosovo and Serbia (Prishtina Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • BIRN Launches ‘If You Were Here’ Missing Persons Campaign (Balkan Insight)
  • Kurti: There never was a more education-dedicated government (Koha)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on motorway and railway signed (media)

The online news portals report that “the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on railway and motorway which connects the two countries is signed.”

The signing of the agreement took place in the presence of the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell, presidents Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic.

The U.S. Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett and Serbia’s Director of the Office for Kosovo Marko Djuric also participated at the ceremony.  

Thaci: Railway agreement, a message of peace (media)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci hailed the signing of the agreement for establishing a railway line between Pristina and Belgrade saying it is a message of peace.

He thanked the U.S. administration and Special Envoy Richard Grenell for contributing to the agreement. 

“It is another milestone after the agreement on Pristina-Belgrade flights. Today’s agreement on railways and highways is the best message that the region wants to have peace, economic development, prosperity, jobs. This is what the people in Kosovo and the Western Balkans need,” Thaci said. 

Who signed the agreement for the railway between Kosovo and Serbia? (Express)

The agreement for the railway and motorway between Kosovo and Serbia was signed today in Munich, Germany.

Kosovo delegation that signed this agreement was comprised by Xheme Veseli, Director of Road Transport and Rame Qupeva, Director of Road Infrastructure.

Marko Djuric, Director of the Office for Kosovo at Serbian government signed the document on behalf of Serbia.  

Through these documents, Kosovo and Serbia express readiness to reopen roads that are part of the railway and motorway corridor as well building of new roads that connect the two capitals with each other as well as with Europe.

In January Kosovo and Serbia signed the agreement for reopening of the airline between Pristina and Belgrade. 

Grenell calls today’s signed agreements historic (Express)

The U.S. Embassy in Berlin came up with a statement after the signing of the agreements for railway and highway between Kosovo and Serbia, in Munich Germany.

 “The Ambassador Grenell opened the Munich Security Conference with the historic signing of railway and highway agreements between Serbia and Kosovo, following last month’s agreement to restore direct flights between Belgrade and Pristina,” the U.S. Embassy in Germany tweeted. 

Haradinaj applauds agreement between Kosovo and Serbia (media)

Former prime minister of Kosovo and leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj commented on the railway agreement signed today in Munich between Kosovo and Serbia.

He commended the U.S. Special Envoy Richard Grenell and President Donald Trump for “vision and leadership in effectively facilitating the functional normalisation of the rail and highways connecting Kosovo and Serbia.”

Haradinaj added on Twitter: “Now the Grand Finale is needed: Mutual Recognition” which he said is something highlighted by President Trump in his letters.

LDK’s Hyseni: Agreement in Munich, a step in the right direction (Zeri)

Skender Hyseni, member of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) presidency, hailed the agreement signed by representatives of Kosovo and Serbia in Munich today.

“The letter of the U.S. Secretary Mike Pompeo is very clear. The Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, in essence, involves mutual recognition between these two countries. Close coordination with the U.S. and the EU is crucial.

“The signing today at MSC [Munich Security Conference] of the two letters of intent, that on railway and highway, is another step in the right direction,” Hyseni wrote on social media.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Vucic met Grenell in Munich (B92, Tanjug)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic attended the Munich Security Conference yesterday and afterwards met with US President Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina talks Richard Grenell, Serbian media report.

“We had a difficult, but open and honest conversation with U.S. Special Envoy Richard Grenell, and I am pleased to hear his support for dropping the tariffs. These are not easy talks for us, and our people do understand that, but we are committed to maintaining peace and stability, ensuring economic progress and preserving our national interests. When taxes are abolished, we will be ready to sit down at the table. Tomorrow will be one of the busiest and most important days for me. Through 16 hours of meetings and two important panels, including one with German investors, I will have the great honour and an important opportunity of representing Serbia in Munich. We remain focused on bringing investors to Serbia, opening up our borders and strengthening our economy further.” – President Vucic wrote yesterday on his Instagram profile.

Following the meeting with Grenell, Vucic also answered the questions in a press conference.

“Washington wants Kosovo authorities to revoke 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia, and they insist on its immediate and urgent suspension, so that Belgrade and Pristina can resume dialogue”, Vucic said. When it comes to negotiations with Pristina, he said it all depends on the abolition of tariffs, he noted.

“We sat with them in various venues, but formal negotiations depend on the abolition of tariffs”, Vucic emphasized, adding it has nothing to do with the election campaign (in Serbia).

“My idea is that when you go to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania, you have no borders, but that requires political stability,” Vucic said. He expressed concern about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the crisis broke out because of the Constitutional decision court that land in Republika Srpska belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Vucic told reporters that in his conversation with Grenell, he also expressed his belief that we would “all have the strength together to preserve peace and stability”.

“I spoke with Milorad Dodik over the phone, he conveyed his position to me and I saw that everything that had happened hit him hard. We agreed to discuss this in more detail on Saturday”, Vucic said. He added that in his conversation with Dodik, regarding the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he sensed worry and concern, but also shared that concern with Dodik. He hopes that we will have enough strength to understand Bosniaks and everyone else, given that peace is a priority interest of all of us.

“Anyone who thinks otherwise, counting people, heads, potential weapons, makes a terrible mistake. We don’t need that. I hope we can avoid bad scenarios, and at the same time be able to strengthen the economy further”, Vucic concluded.

Vucic happy to see progress, thanks Trump for support (Tanjug)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said today in Munich he is very happy over the progress in relations with Pristina regarding restoring the traffic links, which enables free flow of capital, people, goods and services, and thanked the US President Donald Trump for the support, Tanjug news agency reported.

“This is not something linked with politics. It was not easy to negotiate with Pristina, but I am very happy to see the progress today. Once again I want to thank Grenell and President Trump for these initiatives, that are the only path to Serbia and we will all feel much better in the future and we will be able to stabilize the region and ensure the peace for the coming decades in the Western Balkans,” Vucic is quoted as saying.

Vucic made these remarks following the signing of the letter of intent to restore the railway line between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as build a highway.

Djuric on railway agreement: We took care everything to be in line with Constitution (BETA, N1)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director, Marko Djuric said a letter of intent to restore the railway line between Belgrade and Pristina will be signed in Munich, BETA news agency reports.

“Once it is realized one day, a railway line between Pristina, Podujevo, Merdare and further towards Nis will be restored. The goods from central Serbia would be transported faster to Kosovo, as well as passengers,” Djuric told Prva TV.

He added the letter of intent will not be a legal act “but an expression of a political willingness to restore the railway line.”

“We took care very much that our interests are maximally protected, and that everything is in line with the Constitution and Serbia’s laws,” Djuric said.

Commenting on Vucic-Grenell meeting in Munich, in which he also took part, Djuric said that Serbian delegation in Munich tries to present to the international community interlocutors “what the situation is like that Serbs in Kosovo are facing and what sort of mistreatments they are exposed to.”

Rakic: Better communication, faster transport of goods and services (Radio KIM)

Serbian List President Goran Rakic welcomed signing of the letter of intent to restore a railway line between Belgrade and Pristina as well as build a highway between central Serbia and Kosovo, Radio KIM reports.

Rakic said the greatest benefits from the railway agreement would have Serbs from central Kosovo and Pomoravlje region.

“This would ease their communication with central Serbia, but also create conditions for faster transport of goods and service, opening of new jobs and improving the economy,” Rakic said.

He also expects that the new government in Pristina will revoke the tariffs. This would impact reducing the tensions, and these agreements would become fully meaningful.  

Blakaj: To identify 400 bodies that are still in Pristina (N1)

Kosovo Humanitarian Law Centre Director Bekim Blakaj said it is important to identify mortal remains of more than 400 persons, which are still kept in a morgue of the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Pristina, N1 reports.

“If those bodies would be identified, the number of missing persons would reduce by 25 percent, and it is very important for the families. It seems that responsible institutions, for example Government Missing Persons Commission, but also other institutions, should be much more decisive in the process of identification of these bodies,” Blakaj said.

A debate on missing persons was organized in Gracanica yesterday. The participants requested stronger cooperation between Serbian and Kosovo commissions for missing persons, in order to shed the light on the fate of 1653 persons, who are still missing.

“The governments have changed, prime ministers and presidents of the states changed, everybody was promising but did nothing,” Coordinator of the Association of Missing and Kidnapped Serbs Milorad Trifunovic said.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission preparatory team also agreed that representatives of Pristina and Belgrade authorities did not do enough to shed the lights on the cases of missing persons, Nora Ahmetaj said adding that they will also deal with this issue.

 

 

International

 

France, US, Pile Pressure on Kosovo to Scrap Tariffs (Balkan Insight)

French President Emmanuel Macron and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have both written to Albin Kurti, urging Kosovo’s new PM to rescind the import taxes imposed on Serbian and Bosnian goods.

Within less than 24 hours, Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, has received two high-level letters calling on him to abolish the tariffs imposed on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to help restart the stalled dialogue with Serbia.

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

Further transport agreements reached between Kosovo and Serbia (Prishtina Insight)

Letters of interest signed in Munich on Friday between delegations from Kosovo and Serbia under US mediation express a willingness to open up road and railway connections between the two countries.

Two letters of interest, one relating to highways and the other to rail travel were signed by a Kosovo and Serbian delegation in Munich on Friday. The agreements express a willingness to reopen existing networks between the two countries, as well to open the possibilities for road and rail connections linking the two states with the Western Balkans region and the EU.

The letters of interest were signed under the auspices of US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, who is also the newly appointed US special envoy to the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, while Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and his Kosovar counterpart Hashim Thaci headed the two delegations.

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

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

BIRN Launches ‘If You Were Here’ Missing Persons Campaign (Balkan Insight)

BIRN has launched a new campaign entitled If You Were Here, which will tell the stories of family members of missing persons from the Balkan wars who are still waiting to discover the fate of their loved ones.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network is launching its new missing persons campaign on Valentine’s Day to emphasise how people across the Balkans lost their loved ones during the wars, and that more than two decades afterwards, some are still waiting for information about their partners and other relatives.

As part of the If You Were Here campaign, BIRN will interview family members of missing persons who are still searching for their parents, children, spouses and siblings to raise public awareness about the issue.

“This campaign aims to show that even today there are people who are affected by the war and that their needs have never been properly addressed,” said Jovana Prusina, programme coordinator for BIRN’s Balkan Transitional Justice project.

“We want to give a human dimension to the issue of missing persons and to highlight spouses, parents, children and siblings of those who are still missing. We chose to start on Valentine’s Day because all the women we interviewed would probably have spent this day with their husbands, but instead, they still know nothing about their whereabouts,” Prusina added.

See at: https://bit.ly/38rf6GF

Kurti: There never was a more education-dedicated government (Koha)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti said in his remarks at the ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the University of Pristina establishment that there never was a more committed government on the issues relating to education.

“I believe we all agree that at the moment things are not that good. There is a need for change, a need for a reform, which prepares the University to face the challenges of time,” Kurti said.

Minister of Education, Science, and Technology, Hykmete Bajrami, meanwhile noted that the new government will review the Law on Higher Education to ensure it addresses the needs of further development and guarantees greater independence and funding for education institutions.

Head of the EU Office in Kosovo, Nataliya Apostolova, said the University of Prishtina should be the engine of change. “We plan to invest €31 million in the field of education. We know figures are not important but the EU Office has so far invested over €80 million in Kosovo on education only,” she said. 

 

 

 

 

 

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