Albanian Language Media:
- Greek PM: Resumption of dialogue strengthens European perspective (Koha)
- Surroi: Thaci-Rasmussen letter exchange is an international agreement (Telegrafi)
- Gazeta Express: Kurti told U.S. he will not lift tax (RTK)
- In Washington, Thaci meets DFC chief executive, Adam Boehler (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Vucic: “They will give even more… but will seek from us de facto or de jure Kosovo’s recognition” (O2, RTS, KoSSev)
- Raskovic-Ivic: Vucic never presented proposal on resolving Kosovo issue to citizens or MPs (N1, KoSSev)
- Djuric: Kurti threatens Serbia again (Kosovo-online, RTS)
- BIRODI says President Vucic dominates prime news programme on Serbian TV stations (N1)
- US to Kosovo: We expect lifting of taxes as step toward resumption of dialogue (Beta, N1)
- Albanian attacked Serbs in Grizime village, Office for KiM condemns incident (RTV Puls, Radio KIM)
- Kosovo Leaders Trade Angry Words Over ‘Secret’ NATO Deal (Balkan Insight)
- NATO contradict Haradinaj’s KSF claims (Prishtina Insight)
- S. Reiterates Commitment To Kosovo Independence, Urges Dropping Tariffs On Serbian Goods (RFE)
- Moravcsik: EU enlargement in the Western Balkans is in the interest of member states (EWB)
- Serbs, Albanians protest together against small hydropower plants in Kosovo (FoNet, N1)
- Mitrovica Rock School unites young Albanians and Serbs in a segregated Kosovo city (globalvoices.org)
- Appeals Court Upholds Nine-Month Sentence For Kosovo Soccer Chief (RFE)
- Rallies for clean air to be held on Friday in nine Balkan cities (balkangreenenergynews.com)
Albanian Language Media
Greek PM: Resumption of dialogue strengthens European perspective (Koha)
Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti received a letter from the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis congratulating him on his election and wishing him success in the new post.
Mitsotakis underlined in the letter that Greece supports European perspective of the Western Balkans and will continue to actively support Kosovo people’s European aspirations.
“I am convinced that the implementation by Pristina of the necessary reforms, in line with the EU recommendations, the resumption of the EU facilitated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade and the avoidance of acts that run counter to good neighbourly relations would strengthen your European perspective,” Greek prime minister said.
Surroi: Thaci-Rasmussen letter exchange is an international agreement (Telegrafi)
Publicist Veton Surroi said that the exchange of letters between then prime minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaci and former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen where Thaci provides assurances that Kosovo Security Force (KSF) would not deploy to the north of Kosovo without KFOR’s prior consent has an international contracting character and as such constitutes an international agreement.
“International agreements, as constitutional obligation, need to be ratified in the Assembly. The Constitution guarantees that no individual can take over obligations on behalf of Kosovo without parliamentary approval and the violation of this guarantee is a constitutional violation,” Surroi said.
He also noted that the Constitution of Kosovo has to a large extent been drafted thanks to NATO intervention.
“Upholding of the country’s Constitution is also a sign of great respect to NATO. And vice-versa: ignoring constitutional procedures or its direct violation is a significant damage to the character of Atlantic countries, to the rule of law.”
Gazeta Express: Kurti told U.S. he will not lift tax (RTK)
RTK carries reports from Gazeta Express saying that Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti has replied negatively to the U.S. concerning the lifting of the import tax on Serbia.
According to Gazeta Express report, this is expected to carry serious repercussions for Kosovo.
Unnamed sources are quoted as saying that by the end of the week, the U.S. special envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Richard Grenell, is expected to review the situation.
In Washington, Thaci meets DFC chief executive, Adam Boehler (media)
President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, currently on a visit to the U.S., met the chief executive officer of the International Development Financial Corporation, Adam Boehler, and discussed investment opportunities in Kosovo.
According to a press release issued by the President’s Office, Thaci is quoted as saying that Kosovo is committed to conclude a final peace agreement with Serbia.
“By closing of the war chapter, we enable the turning towards the future, towards economic development, investments and prosperity,” he said.
Serbian Language Media
Vucic: “They will give even more… but will seek from us de facto or de jure Kosovo’s recognition“ (O2, RTS, KoSSev)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told the Belgrade based television O2 that only 10 to 12 percent of people expect a solution for Kosovo. Still, he will ask the people about the solution for Kosovo, but before that he will give his opinion. He reiterated that he expects pressure on Serbia if Pristina abolishes taxes without reciprocity.
“Nobody expects, 10 to 12 percent, everyone else would like it if it can last like this for another 300 years, they just don’t wonder if it’s realistic and possible,” Vucic says when it comes to resolving Kosovo’s status.
The Atisaari ++ plan became a daily topic of Serbian media after Vucic’s statement last week about the plan of 2007, with a supervised independence, which was rejected by Serbs at the time, and which was included in the Kosovo constitution.
The O2 TV asked the same question last night regarding the plan, whereby he replied: “It never said that Serbia must recognize Kosovo.”
Asked if he would ask the people to declare themselves in exchange for joining the EU for the fulfilment of the conditions from Ahtisaari ++, Vucic said that he would ask the people, but before that he would state his position.
“Certainly, the people will be asked, but before that I will say what my opinion is. But since you have speculated now, it is not difficult to guess what the basic elements will be of what they are going to suggest, and no matter how many politicians pretend that they are not skilled and talk about some kind of spinning, they will give more than that, but the bottom line will be that they will seek de facto or de jure recognition from Serbia, because their goal is to get Kosovo into the UN, that’s the point of everything, that’s what we should expect. And do not pretend that this will not come as a request, the question is when it will happen, whether it will be in 3 months or in 6 months or a year, it does not matter, it will happen. And then there will be tremendous pressures, I did not accidentally say that something that you cannot accept and on the other hand you cannot refuse,” Vucic concludes.
The O2 asked and what if Serbia refuses?
“I do not know what I would say to you what would be the opposite, I am not a fatalist. For eight years I have been listening to how I will not know what will happen, so nothing quite fatal will happen, but we will certainly be exposed to great pressures, which will not be easy to refuse. Do not forget that I was there in Brussels when they wanted us to accept Kosovo’s entry into the UN, the regional police in the north with 30 percent of Serbs, 70 percent of Albanians, along with South Mitrovica, Srbica, or Skenderaj joining, that is how they call it now in Albanian and Vucitrn, which is Vushtri in Albanian. Almost all officials accepted it, apart from Djuric and Vulin, although we were in the minority, in the end I refused it, and that is why Kosovo is not part of the UN today. Everyone else who were present there accepted it. And I can’t blame them because I know how terrible the pressure was in those days and those nights and what all the threats were made about it. Only about those few nights and days I can write a book,” Vucic explains.
Raskovic-Ivic: Vucic never presented proposal on resolving Kosovo issue to citizens or MPs (N1, KoSSev)
Serbian opposition Peoples’ Party (NS) deputy leader Sanda Raskovic-Ivic taking to Belgrade-based TV N1 broadcast “Dan uzivo” noted that President Aleksandar Vucic said earlier his proposal to resolve the Kosovo issue was not accepted, but in fact he never presented this proposal to the citizens or the members of the parliament.
“Vucic always creates a psychodrama out of everything, there you are you did not want my proposal, but he did not present that proposal either. It was his (job) to present the proposal before the citizens, before the members of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia,” Raskovic-Ivic said.
She recalled that Vucic spoke about delimitation, but did not say what delimitation is about, while on the other hand, his associates, “went all over the world and draw some borders, which municipalities should leave, Mitrovica is in, then Mitrovica is out, only Leposavic and Lesak are in,” Raskovic-Ivic explained.
Responding to a journalist’s question whether she has seen those maps, Raskovic-Ivic responded she has not seen them, but did see the people who spoke about that, without providing further details.
“At the end, it simply stopped, because Aleksndar Vucic realized it won’t go through, and it did not go through, because people opposed it, the Serbian Orthodox Church opposed it as well. He did not want and did not have the strength to go against the church (…),” she added.
She also pointed out that Serbian public was never told what exactly had been offered. There was constant talking – it could be this way, or it could be that way.
“While Albanians were absolutely against any sort of delimitation, Serbian side has discussed it.”
Asked if she could assume what does the offer for resolving the Kosovo issue contain, that President Vucic mentioned earlier “we shall receive the offer we mustn’t decline, but we can’t accept it either,” Raskovic-Ivic responded that she cannot speculate, because, as she said it, she is tired of speculations.
“Whether it is half of Kosovo or this what came at the end, two municipalities in the north of Kosovo as it was at the end, then stopped?” she wondered.
“Let Aleksandar Vucic come forward before the new Assembly composition, let him present it, and then to see how these people, who are his own people, who depend upon him because he brought them there and gave them positions, how they will react and then how citizens of Serbia will react,” Raskovic-Ivic said.
Once I hear the proposal, I will react, she concluded.
Djuric: Kurti threatens Serbia again (Kosovo-online, RTS)
Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric told Kosovo-online portal that Albin Kurti uses tendentious issue of illegally formed Kosovo army to threaten Serbia and Serbian population in Kosovo.
Djuric added these threats culminated by announcing compulsory military service, and now Kurti uses this topic also for a political conflict with opposition political parties in Pristina.
“Without wanting to be involved in inter-Albanian political struggles for power and influence, I would only recall that Serbia considers KFOR as the only legal armed force in our southern province, in line with the UN SC Resolution 1244. Therefore, guarantees of KFOR and NATO that the so-called Kosovo army will have no access to the Serb-majority municipalities in the north of the province is the only possible rational stance on this issue,” Djuric said.
According to Djuric, any different stance would consequently have drastic deterioration of the security circumstances in the region, RTS reported.
BIRODI says President Vucic dominates prime news programme on Serbian TV stations (N1)
The Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI) analysed the main news programme of TVs channels in Serbia with national frequencies – public broadcaster RTS1, four private TV stations – Prva TV, Pink, O2, Happy TV and TV N1 cable channel and found out that President Aleksandar Vucic consumed 55 hours and 54 minutes of news prime time in five months, N1 reports on Wednesday.
The results were compared to 2017 and showed a rise in time dedicated to domestic politics, while three years ago nearly 60 percent of news programmes were about the economy.
“What is not good is that the so-called positive reporting is on the rise. And that means that the participants talk without being asked, analysed… On the other hand, the neutral and negative reports decline, i.e. there is a lack of analysis and criticism. Besides, and that is very important, in 2012 when we had a model called ‘equal and more equal’, we had two electoral lists and two presidential candidates presented in the media, while now we have ‘one and unequal.’ Or, we have Aleksandar Vucic’s dominance on one side and other politicians somewhere on the side. And when they are presented, it’s mostly in a negative way,” BIRODI’s Zoran Gavrilovic said, N1 reports.
US to Kosovo: We expect lifting of taxes as step toward resumption of dialogue (Beta, N1)
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci that Washington expected Pristina to annul the 100 percent import duties on goods from Serbia as a step toward the continuation of the dialogue on the normalisation of relations with Belgrade, the Beta news agency reported on Thursday.
Pompeo confirmed a strong friendship between his country and Kosovo, “rooted in a dedication to shared values and the US support of the sovereign and independent Kosovo,” Morgan Ortagus, a State Department spokesperson said after Pompeo – Thaci meeting.
She added that the Secretary of State encouraged Kosovo to urgently use the signed letters of intent for the renewal of air, railway and road connections between Pristina and Belgrade.
Pompeo also said his country expected Kosovo to abolish taxes and enable both nations to economically and commercially benefit, as an essential step toward the resumption of talks about a comprehensive normalisation.
Thaci’s cabinet quoted him as telling Pompeo that “the final peace agreement” between Kosovo and Serbia would mean peace for the whole of South-Eastern Europe, facing the future, development and prosperity. Thaci also met the US Deputy Defence Minister David Norquist who tweeted the Defence Ministry supported Kosovo’s Security Forces development.
See at: https://bit.ly/32uuKiq
Albanian attacked Serbs in Grizime village, Office for KiM condemns incident (RTV Puls, Radio KIM)
Kosovo police brought in an Albanian from the village of Grizime, Kamenica municipality, over yesterday’s attack against Djokic family from the same village, Radio KIM reports.
As RTV Puls reports, citing local sources, 45 years old Dejan Djokic due to injuries on his back caused by a shovel received urgent medical treatment in the health house in Kamenica and advised to stay home.
“I was attacked in the middle of the street, and Albanian beat me up all the way to the yard’s gate, where I lost consciences,” Dejan said, Radio KIM reports.
His father Dobrosav Djokic, 65 years old, was also attacked, sustaining slighter injuries caused by several slapping.
The conflict allegedly occurred due to the dispute related to the water well.
Until the 1999 conflict, around 30 Serb families lived in the village of Grizime. Now there are 13 Serb and three Albanian families living there.
Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija in the strongest terms condemned the incident, in which an Albanian has beaten up with a shovel Dejan Djokic because he did not permit him to use the water source located on Djokic’s private property, for the cattle, the statement said.
The statement added that such incidents are “consequence of the fact that private properties belonging to the Serbs have been systematically usurped and used as public goods over the last two decades, although the right to private property is inviolable in a civilized world. Those who without permission and compensation usurp Serbian houses and properties, cut forests must be finally prevented from grabbing and stealing.”
The Office also said that the international community must guarantee the Serbs inviolability of their properties, same as it is done elsewhere in Europe.
Kosovo Leaders Trade Angry Words Over ‘Secret’ NATO Deal (Balkan Insight)
Kosovo politicians continued to trade accusations on Wednesday over a reported secret agreement in 2013 with NATO, which imposed limits on the security forces’ freedom of action, especially in the Serb-dominated north.
Former prime minister Ramush Haradinaj on Wednesday insisted he had observed no such limits when he headed the government, saying the Kosovo Security Force, KSF, had “a full mandate throughout the entire territory of Kosovo, with no limitations”.
Haradinaj’s claim was in response to a letter sent by new Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, to the speaker that detailed a “secret agreement” allegedly made in April 2013 by then prime minister Hashim Thaci, now the President of Kosovo, to the then NATO General Secretary, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
See at: https://bit.ly/395rDQE
NATO contradict Haradinaj’s KSF claims (Prishtina Insight)
A NATO official has told Prishtina Insight that KFOR’s mandate remains unchanged following former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s claims that legislation passed under his government had extended the powers of the Kosovo Security Forces.
A NATO official has told Prishtina Insight that the mandate of its KFOR peacekeeping mission remains unchanged, and that any operations undertaken by the Kosovo Security Forces, KSF, in the north of the country must be agreed with KFOR.
“Our mission remains unchanged, based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244,” the NATO official said. “Any movement by the KSF to the northern part of Kosovo requires prior notification to and agreement by the KFOR Commander.”
Prishtina Insight contacted NATO after former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj claimed in a Facebook post that the KSF “has a full mandate throughout the entire territory of Kosovo, with no limitations.”
See at: https://bit.ly/39711Pk
U.S. Reiterates Commitment To Kosovo Independence, Urges Dropping Tariffs On Serbian Goods (RFE)
Top U.S. officials have told visiting Kosovar President Hashim Thaci that the United States remains committed to the Balkan country’s sovereignty and independence, but also insisted that Washington expects Kosovo to lift its 100 percent tariffs on Serbian imports.
During his meeting with Thaci in Washington on February 26, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “reaffirmed the strong partnership between the United States and Kosovo, rooted in continued commitment to shared values and our support for a sovereign, independent Kosovo,” according to State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
See at: https://bit.ly/3ae6WlL
Moravcsik: EU enlargement in the Western Balkans is in the interest of member states (EWB)
Is the European Union in crisis, what will be the effects of Brexit and will all of this have an influence on EU enlargement in the Western Balkans? These are some of the topics we have discussed with Andrew Moravcsik, professor of politics and director of the European Union Program at Princeton University, and a renowned expert on EU integration. The conversation took place at the Munich Security Conference 2020 on 14 February in the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, a historic venue of the Munich Security Conference, one of the most renowned international conferences in the world in which Moravcsik was a participant.
See at: https://bit.ly/2vnoAo9
Serbs, Albanians protest together against small hydropower plants in Kosovo (FoNet, N1)
People from Strpce, a north-western town in Kosovo, both the Serbs and Albanians protest the construction of small hydropower plants in their neighbourhood, while the new Environment Ministry said it would assess the situation on the ground, the FoNet news agency reported on Thursday.
Strpce residents submitted a request for suspension of building the plants to the Minister of Infrastructure and Environment Protection Lumir Abdixhiku.
Over 20 small hydropower plants are being built in Kosovo, and the new Government decided to temporarily suspend the works and ban the issuing of construction permits.
See at: https://bit.ly/2HZJxZ1
Mitrovica Rock School unites young Albanians and Serbs in a segregated Kosovo city (globalvoices.org)
Music helps youth bridge the divide between Kosovo ethnic communities
This story by Jose Carpintero Molina was originally published on Balkan Diskurs, a project of the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC). An edited version is republished by Global Voices as part of a content-sharing agreement.
See at: https://bit.ly/2T40l7v
Appeals Court Upholds Nine-Month Sentence For Kosovo Soccer Chief (RFE)
The Kosovo Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling to sentence the head of the country’s soccer governing body to nine months in prison in a case dating back to 2012.
A lower court in Pristina, the capital, issued the verdict in July to Agim Ademi, 58, president of the Kosovo Soccer Federation.
A friend of his, Muharrem Rama, received a one-year prison sentence.
Both were accused of forcing a business associate in July 2012 to pay 30,000 euros ($32,600) — or a BMW X5 luxury vehicle — to a city official in Pristina in exchange for falsified documents relating to a real estate transaction.
See at: https://bit.ly/2Vr7G2x
Rallies for clean air to be held on Friday in nine Balkan cities (balkangreenenergynews.com)
Organizers invited people to gatherings for clean air that are scheduled for 18:00 in Skopje, Belgrade, Prishtina, Prizren, Podujevo, Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Zenica and Podgorica.
Activists from several countries in former Yugoslavia said demonstrations and other public actions are planned to demand measures for clean air. The gatherings are set for 18:00 on Friday, February 28. The campaign’s tags on social networks are: #BalkansDemandCleanAir, #BalkanZahtijevaČistVazduh, #BallkaniKërkonAjërTëPastër, #BalkanZahtevaČistVazduh and #БалканотБараЧистВоздух.
See at: https://bit.ly/3cnkvkK