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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, February 26, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Secret letter surfaces concerning Thaci’s assurances not to have KSF go to the north (Kallxo)
• Prime Minister’s Legal Office: Sufficient basis to conclude Thaci violated Constitution (Koha)
• Hoti: Agreement with Serbia can be achieved through a government-led dialogue (media)
• Veseli: Kurti needs to clarify himself, not avoid responsibility (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Botsan-Kharchenko: Strategic partnership between Russia and Serbia on rise (BETA, N1)
• EU, US State Department comment on Serbia’s acquisition of ‘Pantsir S1’ system (VoA, N1)
• KIM radio: Mysterious dismissal of Tanja Ivic (VoA)
• Diplomats have forgotten fair play in Kosovo, some receive support, some face bans (Kosovo Online)
• Rakic met EULEX chief Wigemark (Radio Mitrovica sever)
• Detention of Rosic and Spasojevic extended for two more months (Tanjug, Dnevnik)

International:

• Kosovo: 2nd Former Fighter Refuses War Crimes Court Summons (AP/NYT)
• Kurti calls for Thaci’s dismissal over ‘secret agreement’ (Prishtina Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Croatia Confirms Coronavirus Case as Balkan States Boost Precautions (Balkan Insight)
• Balkan cities united in struggle for clean air and environmental protection (BETA, N1)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Secret letter surfaces concerning Thaci’s assurances not to have KSF go to the north (Kallxo)
  • Prime Minister’s Legal Office: Sufficient basis to conclude Thaci violated Constitution (Koha)
  • Hoti: Agreement with Serbia can be achieved through a government-led dialogue (media)
  • Veseli: Kurti needs to clarify himself, not avoid responsibility (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Botsan-Kharchenko: Strategic partnership between Russia and Serbia on rise (BETA, N1)
  • EU, US State Department comment on Serbia’s acquisition of ‘Pantsir S1’ system (VoA, N1)
  • KIM radio: Mysterious dismissal of Tanja Ivic (VoA)
  • Diplomats have forgotten fair play in Kosovo, some receive support, some face bans (Kosovo Online)
  • Rakic met EULEX chief Wigemark (Radio Mitrovica sever)
  • Detention of Rosic and Spasojevic extended for two more months (Tanjug, Dnevnik)

International:

  • Kosovo: 2nd Former Fighter Refuses War Crimes Court Summons (AP/NYT)
  • Kurti calls for Thaci’s dismissal over ‘secret agreement’ (Prishtina Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Croatia Confirms Coronavirus Case as Balkan States Boost Precautions (Balkan Insight)
  • Balkan cities united in struggle for clean air and environmental protection (BETA, N1)

 

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Secret letter surfaces concerning Thaci’s assurances not to have KSF go to the north (Kallxo)

PM Albin Kurti published the content of a letter then Prime Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaci sent to former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2013 providing assurances that the Kosovo Security Force would not undertake any missions in the northern Kosovo without KFOR’s prior approval.

“On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, I hereby provide assurances that the Kosovo Security Force would only undertake a mission in northern Kosovo with prior concurrence from KFOR. This is fully in line with Kosovo’s standing obligations vis-a-vis NATO, with which the Government of Kosovo complies and regards with utmost seriousness. It is also the understanding of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo that KFOR, in keeping with its mandate, may engage with legitimate representatives of the local community in northern Kosovo as part of this concurrence process,” Thaci wrote on the letter dated 19 April 2013.

In a statement issued by the Government of Kosovo, Kurti is said to have formally notified Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani about what it said were constitutional implications regarding the letter exchange between Thaci and then NATO secretary general.

“Through this agreement prime minister Thaci on behalf of the Republic of Kosovo, transferred to KFOR absolute right of veto on all KSF future missions in the north of Kosovo, for an indefinite period.

“Prime Minister Kurti in the notification sent to Speaker Osmani highlighted the fact that following the official assumption of the post of Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, has asked the staff of the Office of the Prime Minister to, without delay, analyse the contents of this secret agreement, including its constitutional implications, namely with regards to those set out in Article 20 (Delegation of Sovereignty), article 18 (Ratification of International Agreements) and article 91 (Dismissal of the President),” the statement reads.

Kurti said in his letter to Osmani: “To avoid any possible misunderstanding, I want to be very clear: As prime minister I am not expressing any position for or against the secret agreement, with regards to its content. As prime minister, I understand and deeply appreciate the importance of cooperation between the Republic of Kosovo and NATO for fully securing territorial integrity of the Republic and its citizens. As prime minister I guarantee the Assembly and all the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo that I will not undertake any measure that would jeopardise this necessary alliance for the safety of our country.” 

“”However when the country’s president, while he was prime minister, transfers sovereign competencies of the Republic of Kosovo to an international organisation through a secret agreement, without notifying the Assembly and in full disregard of clear requirements of the Constitution, this is something I cannot tolerate neither as prime minister nor as citizen of the Republic of Kosovo,” Kurti said in the letter calling on all MPs to treat this issue with the seriousness it requires. 

A copy of the notification about the letter was forwarded to President Thaci and Kosovo’s chief prosecutor Aleksander Lumezi.

Prime Minister’s Legal Office: Sufficient basis to conclude Thaci violated Constitution (Koha)

According to an opinion issued by Kosovo Prime Minister’s Legal Office, president of Kosovo Hashim Thaci has committed a serious violation of the Constitution of Kosovo when, while prime minister, he sent a letter to then NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen providing assurances that the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) would not go to the north of Kosovo without KFOR’s prior concurrence. 

The legal office considers that the letter contains sufficient elements to launch procedures for Thaci’s dismissal. 

“Taking into consideration the evidence at the disposal of the Office of the Prime Minister, and relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, there is sufficient basis to conclude ‘prima facie’ that president Thaci, while prime minister, committed serious violations of the Constitution and that these justify the initiation of the constitutional procedure for his dismissal from the post of the president of the Republic of Kosovo,” the legal office said. 

Hoti: Agreement with Serbia can be achieved through a government-led dialogue (media)

Kosovo’s First Deputy Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said today that Kosovo is facing a challenging process of reaching a peace agreement with Serbia.

“Facing this process is a necessity for us but is also a request of our allies that have supported us,” Hoti wrote on Facebook.

“This agreement can only be achieved through a dynamic dialogue process LED by the Government of the Republic of Kosovo,” he underlined.

Hoti said that the government of Kosovo has full citizen legitimacy and as such will be part of the solution. “Self-imposed obstacles that exclude us from this process are not helpful, on the contrary. The time is running out for us to become part of protecting and advancing our country’s sovereignty.”

Veseli: Kurti needs to clarify himself, not avoid responsibility (media)

Leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Kadri Veseli said in a social media post that for several days now the issue of the tariff on Serbia and the meetings of Prime Minister Albin Kurti with Serbian government officials is being seriously problematized. “Prejudices on these two topics, actually, are part of the standard that he himself has set up once.”

Veseli said that Kosovo does not need such a public debate but that the one who does is Kurti “to manipulate and avoid decision-making and state responsibility.”

Veseli further said that “the game with complaints and requests to internationals to tone down the opposition’s reaction on issues such as lifting of the tax and dialogue, is a low point for Kurti.”

“The Prime Minister needs to clarify himself, not to run away and manipulate.”

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Botsan-Kharchenko: Strategic partnership between Russia and Serbia on rise (BETA, N1)

The Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said that the strategic partnership between Moscow and Belgrade is rising to the highest level and that military cooperation between the two countries contributes to the preservation of Serbia’s independence, BETA news agency reports.

“The development of the military and military-technical cooperation, under the two presidents’ supervision, aims to keep Serbia independent, to autonomously decides about its fate and exists in a stable region,” the Ambassador said at the ceremony marking the Fatherland Defender Day, the Russian state holiday.

His words came after the US and European Union expressed concern about the increasingly close link between Belgrade and Moscow, especially after Serbia purchased the Russian-made anti-aircraft defence ‘Pantsir S1’ system.

Botsan-Kharchenko added that last week’s meeting of the Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin gave a new incentive to the cooperation between the two countries.

“The modern Russian army carefully nourishes the tradition of the country’s military; it’s equipped in a most modern way and ready to help its friends,” Botsan-Kharchenko noted. 

The ceremony was attended by President Vucic and other Serbia’s top officials.

See at: https://bit.ly/2Tk5EPh

EU, US State Department comment on Serbia’s acquisition of ‘Pantsir S1’ system (VoA, N1)

To advance in the European integration Serbia needs to adjust its foreign policy with the European Union’s one as stipulated by the negotiating framework, the Voice of America (VOA) reported on Tuesday, quoting Peter Stano, a spokesperson of the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Joseph Borrell.

Asked by VOA about the recent Serbia’s purchase of the anti-aircraft defence ‘Pantsir S1’ system, Stano said that “Serbia defines the integration into the EU as its strategic priority. We expect Serbia to act following the obligations it undertook.”

Earlier, Lieutenant General Frederick Ben Hodges III, a former commander in chief of the US ground forces, told VOA he did not see the point that defence system would have in Serbia.

Meanwhile, VoA reported that US State Department commenting on Serbia’s purchase of ‘Pantsir S1’ system said that “we call on all our allies and partners to give up the transactions with Russia which could lead to the sanctions under ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’ (CAATSA).

KIM radio: Mysterious dismissal of Tanja Ivic (VoA)

The Voice of America report on footballer Ilija Ivic and his mother, Tanja, who was fired the day after it was announced that her son Ilija had been invited to play for the Kosovo national team, has sparked numerous public reactions. However, it is not yet completely clear why Tanja Ivic was fired and by whom, writes KIM radio. 

Tanja Ivic, who was fired at the Cultural and Educational Center in Gracanica, with an explanation that she is technologically redundant, said in a recent interview with Voice of America that she was told unofficially that “she lost her job because her son Ilija received an offer to play for the football national team of Kosovo”

Voice of America tried to check these allegations with the director of the Cultural and Educational Center Radica Inic, who signed the decision to dismiss Tanja Ivic. However, there was no one in the center’s premises – door was locked in the middle of business hours. 

In a telephone interview, Director Inic said she was at a meeting without other workers being present.

For the Voice of America, she did not want to talk about the decision on Tanja Ivic’s dismissal,  saying that the Assembly of the City of Pristina (located in Gracanica) should be contacted in written, which is the founder of the Cultural Education Center and which operates under the system of Republic of Serbia in Kosovo.

The Voice of America followed the director’s advice and contacted the temporary body of the Pristina City Assembly in writing, seeking an interview with the President, Ljubinko Karadzic. As KIM radio reports, quoting VoA, no answer was received and attempts were made to get the information verbally, but, as KIM radio quotes,” Karadzic said he had no time”. 

KIM radio reports that it is still unknown what connection Ljubinko Karadzic has with the Tanja Ivic’s dismissal. 

The radio recalls that Karadzic meantime is receiving two salaries, one from the Serbian budget, the other from the Kosovo budget. By the way, since December last year he has been a member of the Council of the Faculty of Law of the University of Pristina, based in North Mitrovica. While Ljubinko Karadzic uses the benefits of two systems – the Serbian and the Kosovo one, or the two constitutions – the Constitution of Serbia and the Constitution of Kosovo, lawyer Zivorad Lazic believes that Karadzic thereby violated moral and many legal norms. According to him, without Karadzic’s consent, Tanja Ivic certainly did not get fired. He adds that with it, Karadzic violated the oath he gave in the Kosovo parliament.

“Let’s see, the moment Mr. Karadzic had agreed to be in the institutions of Kosovo, he should automatically have nothing with the institutions of Serbia, given the parliamentary statement he made and signed in the Assembly of Kosovo, in a sense that he would safeguard Kosovo’s sovereignty, that he will defend human rights and freedoms of citizens. I think he should defend the human rights and freedoms of the lady who is the mother of this boy, the lady who got fired and the boy who plays football, because that is in the description of his job and in accordance with the oath given by Mr. Karadzic,” he told Voice of America. 

KIM radio reports, quoting VoA, that Ljubinko Karadzic is not the only Serbian politician in Kosovo who holds several public functions. His colleague Slavko Simic, the Vice President of the Assembly of Kosovo, for example, is at the same time the head of the Kosovo-Mitrovica district, which operates within the Republic of Serbia system.

”There are still at least two dozen Serbian List officials in dual positions and with double salaries in Kosovo. In addition to the Serbian List, they are also members of the Serbian Progressive Party,” reports KIM radio, quoting VoA report.

Diplomats have forgotten fair play in Kosovo, some receive support, some face bans (Kosovo Online)

Portal Kosovo Online reported that conflicting reactions were provoked by the news that a young Serbian footballer from Gracanica, who accepted to play for the Kosovo national team, which has shown once more double standards in Kosovo, including sports.

Decision of a young boy particularly was well received among the Albanian population, and those who condemned the move received a message, even from representatives of the US Embassy in Pristina, that one should not mix politics and sports and that every individual was entitled to the fulfilment of their own dreams.

This portal comments that this was exactly what almost all Serbian sport clubs in Kosovo have been in favour of, and which are, for a long time, prevented from hosting their sports opponents coming from central Serbia.

According to the President of the Football Association of Kosovo and Metohija Igor Uljarevic, prevention of entry for the sports teams at administrative crossings was directly related to politics and directed against Serbian teams from Kosovo.

“We are asking that they allow our children to play sports because they have been prevented from doing so in recent years. We are pleased that international representatives have come forward on this issue and therefore we urge them to influence their favourites in Pristina to stop halting Serbian athletes. I think such behaviour is unacceptable in the 21st century,” Uljarevic told this portal. 

President of the Volleyball Federation of Kosovo and Metohija, Nikola Radomirovic, reminded that the last who were turned back from Brnjak crossing were the players from Pozega, who failed to play a match against their peers from Mokra Gora in Zubin Potok.

“On the other hand, we have an example of a young footballer Ivic who plays for the Kosovo national team and who has received the support of the international community. We also have the US Embassy’s view that politics and sports should not be confused, so we urge them and other international representatives to show the same care  and allow us to play our matches in Mitrovica, Zubin Potok, Leposavic, Gracanica, Strpce and that, as is the case now, politics does not interfere with sports,” Radomirović said.

The ramp at the crossings several times prevented basketball teams, and the first man of the Basketball Club Trepca Djordje Vucicevic pointed out that in addition to tariffs, Pristina authorities have introduced the ban on sports.

“We have big problems because we play matches as hosts on the courts in Raska, Novi Pazar. We ask for our children the same things which everyone in the world has, and that is to play matches in their city where parents, friends and peers can watch them. We also have a new sports hall where, because of these problems at the crossings, not many matches were played,” Vucicevic said.

Rakic met EULEX chief Wigemark (Radio Mitrovica sever)

Head of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) Lars-Gunnar Wigemark held a first introductory meeting with Mitrovica North Mayor Goran Rakic today and discussed issues pertaining to the rule of law as well as overall security situation in the municipality and northern Kosovo.

During the meeting mayor Rakic noted that ensuring a functioning justice system and maintaining security was in everyone’s interest and praised the continued presence of EULEX, including in northern Kosovo.

EULEX chief Wigemark said that EULEX would continue to provide support, facilitating cooperation between police, prosecutors and the courts. The Mission also promotes the implementation of the Agreement on the Integration of the Judiciary, as well as other agreements initiated by the EU, such as freedom of movement and integrated crossings. 

Wigemark also highlighted the role of EULEX in the establishment of an EU-based police unit in Mitrovica, which are responsible for security in Kosovo.

Detention of Rosic and Spasojevic extended for two more months (Tanjug, Dnevnik)

Detention of Marko Rosic and Nedeljko Spasojevic, suspected of involvement in the murder of Oliver Ivanovic has been extended for two more months, Special Court in Pristina decided, Tanjug news agency reports.

Rosic’s defence lawyer Mahmut Halimi told Kosovo-online portal that decision to extend detention of his client, as all previous ones, was made without valid evidence.

“Several times already, I have informed the court that there is not a single evidence based on which my client should remain in detention this long. I have repeated that the piece of paper allegedly found at late Oliver Ivanovic, with Rosic’s car registration number, is not valid evidence, because the brother of Oliver Ivanovic said that it was not Oliver’s handwriting,” Halimi said.

He also said the decision to extend detention was not delivered to Rosic in his mother tongue, which represents violations of the Constitution, The Criminal Code and Convention on Human Rights.

International

 

Kosovo: 2nd Former Fighter Refuses War Crimes Court Summons (AP/NYT)

A former independence fighter in Kosovo said Tuesday that he would not submit to questioning by a Netherlands-based court investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the country’s 1998-99 war.

Faik Zogaj is the second former fighter out of 270 summoned so far to refuse to appear at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague, according to Hysni Gucati, head of the Organization of War Veterans.

See at: https://nyti.ms/2HYkWUo

Kurti calls for Thaci’s dismissal over ‘secret agreement’ (Prishtina Insight)

A ‘secret agreement’ made in April 2013 between NATO and then-Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has been made public by current Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who considers it a breach of the country’s constitution and grounds for Thaci’s removal as Kosovo President.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti has made public a letter sent by Kosovo President Hashim Thaci to the former Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in April 2013, during Thaci’s mandate as prime minister.

The letter, made public on Wednesday, contains assurances that the Kosovo Security Force, KSF, would only undertake a mission in northern Kosovo “with prior concurrence” from the NATO-led international peacekeeping force, KFOR. It also states that, to reach this concurrence, KFOR may engage with representatives of the local community in northern Kosovo.

See at: https://bit.ly/2Tc3v8c

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Croatia Confirms Coronavirus Case as Balkan States Boost Precautions (Balkan Insight)

Croatian officials announced on Tuesday that a man who recently returned from Milan in Italy has become the first confirmed coronavirus case in the country.

“Today at 11.50 we got test results for a Croat who was staying in Milan. He shows milder signs of the illness,” Health Minister Vili Beros told a press conference.

“It is a disease that is similar to the flu and no bigger complications are expected than in the case of the flu,” Beros said.

“The health system is ready,” he added.

Meanwhile nine Croatians who were working at a factory in Italy where 20 people were infected were admitted to hospital in the city of Rijeka overnight and placed in precautionary isolation because they might have been exposed to the virus.

See at: https://bit.ly/39Y5K5Q

Balkan cities united in struggle for clean air and environmental protection (BETA, N1)

The people from nine Balkan’s cities will hold gatherings on February 28 at the same time to send a message that they are united in fighting for clean air and a healthy environment, the Belgrade ‘Don’t Let Belgrade Drown’ Initiative said on Tuesday, BETA news agency reports.

The gatherings would be organized in Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Montenegro.

They will start at 6 pm in Belgrade, Sarajevo, Pristina, Banja Luka, Skopje, Prizren, Zenica, Podujevo and Podgorica.

“Clean air is a fundamental human right, and we demand from all individuals and institutions to immediately act to prevent unforeseeable long-lasting consequences to the health of the Balkan people,” the message from all rallies will read.

See at: https://bit.ly/32q0Rjt 

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