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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 03, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Kurti: We cannot allow our good will be undermined by Serbia (media)
• Konjufca reacts to reports that Sierra Leone has revoked recognition of Kosovo (media)
• Thaci plans to address Kosovo Assembly tomorrow (Telegrafi)
• Grenell reacts to Judah concerning Thaci-Vucic meeting (Klan)
• Kurti: Reciprocity will happen (Klan Kosova/RTK)
• Kosovo, Albania, Croatia form initiative to deepen tripartite relations (Zeri/Klan)

Serbian Language Media:

• Dacic: Sierra Leone 18th state to withdraw Kosovo’s recognition; Pristina: We have nothing to confirm (KoSSev)
• Successful discussion followed by a great dinner with bacon from Wisconsin (B92, Tanjug)
• Vucic and Thaci met at the White House; “I only asked Albanians one thing” (VoA, Tanjug, B92)
• Gerxhaliu: Pristina’s decision to abolish tariffs by the end of this or next week (nova.rs, Tanjug)
• Rama: “I’ve highly appreciated Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. However, he is a big liar” (Kosovo Online, B92, Gazeta Express)
• Djuric: Withdrawal of recognition is a confirmation of Serbia’s persistence (RTS)

International:

• Kosovar, Serbian Presidents Hold ‘Goodwill’ Meeting At White House (RFE)
• Kosovo Lays Out Prospect of Tariff Cut on Serb Goods (AP/NYT)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Kosovo’s new government includes most women since independence (Al Jazeera)
• Advice To My Younger Self: Women From The Balkans (RFE)
• ‘Balkan route’ countries pledge to stop asylum seekers (euobserver.com)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Kurti: We cannot allow our good will be undermined by Serbia (media)
  • Konjufca reacts to reports that Sierra Leone has revoked recognition of Kosovo (media)
  • Thaci plans to address Kosovo Assembly tomorrow (Telegrafi)
  • Grenell reacts to Judah concerning Thaci-Vucic meeting (Klan)
  • Kurti: Reciprocity will happen (Klan Kosova/RTK)
  • Kosovo, Albania, Croatia form initiative to deepen tripartite relations (Zeri/Klan)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Dacic: Sierra Leone 18th state to withdraw Kosovo’s recognition; Pristina: We have nothing to confirm (KoSSev)
  • Successful discussion followed by a great dinner with bacon from Wisconsin (B92, Tanjug)
  • Vucic and Thaci met at the White House; “I only asked Albanians one thing” (VoA, Tanjug, B92)
  • Gerxhaliu: Pristina’s decision to abolish tariffs by the end of this or next week (nova.rs, Tanjug)
  • Rama: “I’ve highly appreciated Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. However, he is a big liar” (Kosovo Online, B92, Gazeta Express)
  • Djuric: Withdrawal of recognition is a confirmation of Serbia’s persistence (RTS) 

International:

  • Kosovar, Serbian Presidents Hold ‘Goodwill’ Meeting At White House (RFE)
  • Kosovo Lays Out Prospect of Tariff Cut on Serb Goods (AP/NYT)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Kosovo’s new government includes most women since independence (Al Jazeera)
  • Advice To My Younger Self: Women From The Balkans (RFE) 
  • ‘Balkan route’ countries pledge to stop asylum seekers (euobserver.com)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Kurti: We cannot allow our good will be undermined by Serbia (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti said today that his good will gesture for partially removing the tariff on Serbia is being met by the Serbian government with an intensification of campaign against recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

“I call on authorities in Serbia to stop this offensive and renounce destructive policies towards Kosovo and its statehood. In addition, I call on relevant international factors, primarily the U.S. and EU, as facilitators of the dialogue process, to increase pressure on Serbia to stop its hostile politics against Kosovo.

“We have demonstrated clearly that we have the will for correct and normal relations with Serbia. However, we cannot allow this will of ours to be undermined.

“As prime minister of Kosovo I will review carefully the created situation and act in line with interests of the Republic and its citizens,” Kurti wrote on Facebook.

Konjufca reacts to reports that Sierra Leone has revoked recognition of Kosovo (media)

Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Glauk Konjufca has reacted to statements from the Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic that Sierra Leone has derecognised independent Kosovo. 

Speaking at an event in Pristina today, Konjufca said the reports were untrue. “With regards to the case at hand, we have nothing confirmed. These are allegations of Mr. Dacic,” he said.

At the same time, Telegrafi quotes sources from the Kosovo’s Foreign Ministry saying that so far no country has notified authorities that it was derecognising Kosovo. 

“Solomon Islands is the only country that has sent a letter announcing freezing of relations with Kosovo until the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue is concluded. No other country, despite Serbia’s propaganda, has sent a notification for the so-called derecognition of Kosovo,” an unnamed official said. 

Thaci plans to address Kosovo Assembly tomorrow (Telegrafi)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci has written to the Assembly’s Secretary Office asking it to make all necessary preparations for calling a session on 4 March.

The letter, signed by president of Kosovo’s chief of staff Bekim Collaku, states that Thaci will address the Assembly of Kosovo on 4 March to speak about his recent visit to the United States. 

Grenell reacts to Judah concerning Thaci-Vucic meeting (Klan)

The U.S. special envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations Richard Grenell has rejected an analysis of The Economist Balkans correspondent Tim Judah concerning the recent meeting at the White House between presidents of Kosovo and Serbia, Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic.

Judah said that Kosovo-Serbia dialogue could be approaching a ‘crunch point’ as the U.S. administration would like to move quickly to what he said is a ‘grand deal’.

“Problem is that Thaci is a lame duck president who cannot deliver anything – unless he can lure the LDK to jump ship and bring down @albinkurti’s government. Land swap was discussed plus of course instant lifting of tariffs without reciprocity. No Serbian recognition of Kosovo but Serbia would not prevent UN accession and if that is the case then it is not expected Russia (or China) would veto. Not sure that would help with Vucic’s election campaign but still. No discussion of Association of Serbian Municipalities but then no one will care about Serbs in KS if there is a land swap even if majority remain in Kosovo. Thaci would like to hurry because his time is trickling to an end and I guess there might be some people in the PDK who want this & an end to @albinkurti admin before any anti-corruption investigations kick in and even, because if they have reason to fear the Specialist Chambers, then they might hope that cooperating on this with the Americans would give them some measure of protection. I am just speculating of course! Watch this space,” Judah wrote on Twitter.

Grenell responded saying: “Wrong. You don’t know what you are talking about. No one is trying to move quickly and there is no grand deal. You are making stuff up.”

Kurti: Reciprocity will happen (Klan Kosova/RTK)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti said at a workshop organised by the Chamber of Doing Business in Kosovo that Kosovo will introduce reciprocity measures. 

“Kosovo has a negative trade balance with all CEFTA countries. Reciprocity will happen – not because we have decided to act differently but because we have decided to act as an independent country,” Kurti said. 

He noted that reciprocity is a value of equality not confrontation. “We should support the local businesses to increase employment, production, development, and average salary in the private sector.”

Kosovo, Albania, Croatia form initiative to deepen tripartite relations (Zeri/Klan)

Albania’s acting Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj announced that together with Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Glauk Konjufca and Croatia’s Goran Grlic-Radman they have decided to establish a tripartite initiative whose goal will be to deepen relations and implement joint strategic objectives.

“The aim of this initiative is holding regular meetings at the level of foreign ministers to create joint political platforms and develop projects based on common interests,” Cakaj wrote on social media.

Serbian Language Media

 

Dacic: Sierra Leone 18th state to withdraw Kosovo’s recognition; Pristina: We have nothing to confirm (KoSSev)

”It is my immense pleasure to show a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that Sierra Leone is withdrawing recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. The country will respect the results obtained from the EU-UN mediated dialogue,” Minister Dacic said.

The Serbian diplomacy chief says that currently, out of 193 UN member states, 92 countries recognize Kosovo as an independent country, 96 countries do not recognize Kosovo, while five countries are in a fluid stance – they mostly recognize Kosovo, but no longer vote for it.

”This means that Kosovo no longer has a majority in the UN,” Dacic said.

He stressed that this ”withdrawal ” of Kosovo’s independence was of particular importance to Belgrade and recalled that Sierra Leone was among the first countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence back in 2008.

Dacic said that he had had successful talks with the President of the Republic in Freetown and that they agreed that bilateral relations, which had been at a standstill for years, should be improved.

”The president has instructed the Foreign Ministry to reconsider its position on Kosovo recognition,” said Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, adding that President of Sierra Leone’s visit is expected in June, and the Foreign Minister of this country will also come to Serbia to prepare for the visit.

https://bit.ly/2ThLR40

Successful discussion followed by a great dinner with bacon from Wisconsin (B92, Tanjug)

Serbia’s President has a great conversation at the White House with National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien at the end of his two-day visit to Washington DC.

Aleksandar Vucic also said that he also had a great conversation with Special Advisor to the President of the United States Jared Kushner and Special Envoy for the Dialogue of Belgrade and Pristina Richard Grenell.

Vucic wrote it on his official Instagram account, along with photos from the meeting.

After the meetings, a dinner was organized, from which a picture on Buducnostsrbija’s Instagram was published by Vucic.

“After a busy and successful day, a great dinner with Wisconsin bacon served. It resembles ours,” Vucic wrote.

https://bit.ly/3arSaId

Vucic and Thaci met at the White House; “I only asked Albanians one thing” (VoA, Tanjug, B92)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his counterpart Hashim Thaci met at the White House, as Voice of America in Albanian reports

It is not yet clear in what format they met, but earlier it was announced that the President of Serbia would be hosted by the U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

The two presidents are in the United States on separate visits.

On separate occasions, Vucic and Thaci met with senior US officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer in Washington on separate occasions.

The President of the so-called Kosovo and the President of Serbia are major negotiators of the two sides of the EU-led dialogue that has been frozen since November 2018, when former Kosovo authorities led by then Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj imposed 100 percent tariffs on imported products from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti on Friday announced a proposal to gradually abolish the 100% tariffs introduced in November 2018 on products from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a countermeasure on Serbia’s campaign to withdraw recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

US officials, however, urges the so-called Kosovo to unconditionally abolish customs duties introduced in November 2018 on Serbian goods, while Belgrade is urged to end its campaign of derecognition of Kosovo’s independence.

In less than a month, the United States secured two agreements between the parties to establish an airline, a railroad, and build a highway between the two countries.

According to Tanjug news agency, besides Vucic and Thaci, the meeting was attended by the US President Donald Trump’s special envoy to Belgrade and Pristina Richard Grenell and Trump’s security advisor Robert O’Brien.

The agency said all four agreed on the necessity of the removal of taxes and said they wished that Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations resumed immediately after the tariffs were revoked.

Earlier on Monday Vucic said his meeting with the State Secretary Mike Pompeo was sincere and meaningful and that he was grateful to the US officials for listening to Belgrade and understanding its problems, the Beta news agency reported.

“I’m grateful to all American officials for their clear view. I have said several times that with some in the international community, you never know what they think, while with the Americans, you know everything. I’m aware that we have a different opinion about Kosovo but thank them for listening to Serbia and understanding our problems,” Vucic told reporters after the talks with Pompeo.

“Then I listened on the other side about how important it was. I said no problem, but for that, all the time I asked the Albanians only one thing, and I said it 500 times in Brussels: ‘People, you don’t run for different international organizations and institutions, do not force us to engage all our capacities, let us not, as we speak, go for additional recognitions and additional nominations to Interpol, UNESCO, to all other international organizations and institutions, so to agree on we will stop it, at least temporarily”, Vucic said.

But, he stated, they never wanted it because they would immediately ask “who are we to prevent the meaning of their existence from lobbying for these international organizations and institutions”. “They never wanted an agreement on the matter. That is the essence, that without such an agreement Serbia cannot agree to it,” Vucic said.

https://bit.ly/2TvDmkZ

Gerxhaliu: Pristina’s decision to abolish tariffs by the end of this or next week (nova.rs, Tanjug)

Secretary-General of the region’s Chamber Investment Forum, Safet Gerxhaliu states that he expects Pristina to decide to abolish taxes on goods from Serbia at the end of this or next week. By March 15 taxes on raw material will be abolished, and by April 1 completely.

He said to Belgrade based news agency Tanjug that the best thing about the moment was that a discussion began that focused on the abolition of taxes on imports of goods from Serbia and BiH.

“There was a good discussion in the Kosovo Assembly today and most MPs supported the idea of solving this problem. There are several dates here – until March 15, the tax on imports of raw materials to be abolished, which, if you analyse the import structure, is 80 percent of goods. In that context, the whole package of 100 percent will be abolished from April 1,” he said.

As he said, the most important thing is that Albin Kurti conducted heated discussions with all the actors involved in the process.

“He received positive feedback and based on that he made such an attitude. However, one should know that this is not a decision, that is one position, and we hope that next Sunday, or perhaps at the end of this week, it will be a topic of good discussion in the Kosovo government and we expect it to be voted on. And that the tax will belong to the past,” Gerxhaliu stressed.

Kosovo Chamber of Commerce President Berat Rukiqi previously told at a Kopaonik business forum that he expects Pristina to make a “positive decision” this week on the tax it introduced on goods from Serbia and BiH.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti recently announced that taxes on imports of raw materials from Bosnia and Herzegovina and central Serbia will be abolished from March 15th.

“I expect the Serbian government to respond by ending the campaign on withdrawal of Kosovo’s independence and by removing other non-tariff barriers,” Kurti said, adding that Pristina will abolish all fees for a 90-day period from April 1 “if the Serbian side shows good will.”

Taxes on goods from Serbia were introduced in November 2018.

”Sierra Leone has withdrawn the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state,” said Serbian Foreign Minister, Ivica Dacic, who is on an official visit to this country, said today. Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic also announced new withdrawals of Kosovo’s recognition from Washington last night. On the other hand, Kosovo Foreign Minister, Glauk Konjufca denied Dacic’s allegations, Pristina media reported.

Rama: “I’ve highly appreciated Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. However, he is a big liar” (Kosovo Online, B92, Gazeta Express)

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama says that thanks to former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, Kosovo still has not achieved visa liberalization.

According to the writing of Pristina based “Gazeta Express”, as Kosovo online reports, Rama stated for “Pressing” TV show, aired on T7, that he had advised Haradinaj to suspend the 100 percent tariffs on Serbian products, after French President Emmanuel Macron promised visa liberalization to Kosovo citizens.

“You would not have had a visa regime now if Haradinaj had suspended the taxes … But he does not understand it. They would have been without a visa for over a year now,” the Albanian Prime Minister said.

According to him, Haradinaj did all this because of the votes. “Ramush sacrificed Kosovo for his votes. However, he did not win elections,” Rama said, adding that because of Haradinaj, “Kosovo has lost its international reputation.”

Referring to Haradinaj’s statement that he did not take Rana as a point of reference on major topics, Rama emphasized that he did not even classify him as a person who counts as a reference for major topics at all.

“What had Ramush Haradinaj done for Kosovo’s sake – excluding imposing fees? I highly respected Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. However, he proved to be such a big liar when appearing in public. He addressed the public by lying in the most scandalous way, saying that I allegedly pressured him to suspend the tax. He made the most harmful decision for Kosovo”, Rama underlined.

According to him, Haradinaj is a folklore politician.

“I sued him in Kosovo, not in front of the Tribunal. What do I get from Kosovo? I get nothing, not even in election-wise, but I have to talk about Kosovo because I have an obligation to do so. Because Kosovo interests me. Whether you want to or not. I get nothing either way”, Rama concluded.

https://bit.ly/2Tyy3RB

Djuric: Withdrawal of recognition is a confirmation of Serbia’s persistence (RTS) 

Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric said that the withdrawal of recognition of Kosovo’s independence by the state of Sierra Leone occurred at an important time, during the visit of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to Washington, and added that Serbia has shown that it was persisting in its policy of protection of national and state interests.

”Thanks to the action, which was launched by President Vucic, the number of states that recognize Kosovo and Metohija’s independence has fallen below half of UN members. I will remind you that the so-called Kosovo was recognized by more than 110 countries,” Djuric told Belgrade based TV Happy.

He added that four-fifths of humanity today does not recognize the independence of Kosovo and Metohija, but that it was no consolation, because there were politicians in Pristina who were not ready for a compromise, reasonable solution that would satisfy the interests of Serbian and Albanian sides.

”That is why the President’s visit to the US is important for Serbia. Relations with the country, which has played a very significant role in the Balkans in the past decades, must be improved,” Djuric said. 

He said that during his visit, Vucic directly reiterated Serbia’s position to Pristina’s top representatives and the US administration – that they should not expect Serbia to make concessions to anyone for anything and to stop protecting its interests.

”Don’t ask Serbia to accept things like Kosovo’s membership in UNESCO, because for Serbs Decani, Bogorodica Ljeviska, the Patriarchate of Pec and Banjska are the foundations of identity and culture,” Djuric said. 

He stressed that Pristina wanted membership in UNESCO to affirm its position as an independent state in the UN Security Council, but that Serbia should not be expected to adopt unilateral acts.

”I think that in Washington, President Vucic, with full responsibility, in a tactful, diplomatic manner, presented to the most influential people in the world the arguments of Serbia. Kosovo is not the only sensitive topic; I am sure there have also been talks regarding Serbia’s military neutrality and strengthening of our security,” Djuric said. 

Commenting on disagreements between Albanian leaders in Kosovo, but also between Pristina and Tirana, Djuric said he has repeatedly witnessed very direct clashes between the leadership of Albania and the Albanians from Kosovo, as well as conflicts between Thaci, Kurti and Haradinaj.

Djuric said that it was no longer important for Albanian politicians in Kosovo to pursue any major national goals, but to fight only to be in power.

”They started repeating some of our mistakes we made 20-30 years ago. I am not saying that we should rejoice especially because of this, we should rejoice because we have started to act more infinitely more responsibly, to build our country and strengthen our economy,” Djuric said. 

 

International

 

Kosovar, Serbian Presidents Hold ‘Goodwill’ Meeting At White House (RFE)

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci says he has met with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, at the While House to discuss ways to reach a “final agreement” between the two Balkan countries.

In a telephone interview with RFE/RL, Thaci said that there were no specific topics discussed during the March 2 talks, which he described as “a goodwill meeting, a message of peace sent to Kosovo, Serbia, and the Western Balkans.”

He also said that both sides welcomed the “leading role” of U.S. President Donald Trump and the “dynamism and leadership” of his special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo, Richard Grenell.

https://bit.ly/2x8xgzz

Kosovo Lays Out Prospect of Tariff Cut on Serb Goods (AP/NYT)

Kosovo’s prime minister on Monday sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump informing him that his country will gradually lift a 100% tariff on Serb and Bosnian goods as a goodwill gesture ahead of resuming discussions with Serbia.

In the letter, which was also addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Albin Kurti said the phasing out will begin on March 15. In return, he wants Serbia to stop blocking Kosovo’s recognition and from joining international organisations.

https://nyti.ms/2TlOqCt

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Kosovo’s new government includes most women since independence (Al Jazeera)

Vjosa Osmani has a clear vision for how she and her government will run the country.

“Every single law that comes to the assembly should be seen through the gender lens,” Osmani said in an interview with Al Jazeera, less than a month after being elected as the first woman to serve as Kosovo’s speaker of the Assembly.

Osmani is among a new generation of politicians who have entered the political scene in Europe’s youngest nation, instilling hope that was lost during previous governments led by former Kosovo Liberation Army commanders and where corruption and nepotism ruled.

https://bit.ly/39udKvH

 

Advice To My Younger Self: Women From The Balkans (RFE) 

To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty asked successful women what advice they would give themselves when they were young. In this segment, women from Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, and Bulgaria offer their thoughts. 

See the video here: https://bit.ly/32JSW0k

‘Balkan route’ countries pledge to stop asylum seekers (euobserver.com)

Countries along the so-called ‘Balkan route’, where hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers crossed in 2015-2016, are pledging not to allow migrants to cross this time.

In an political climate that has turned to the right in the EU – with prime ministers from Hungary and Austria both pursuing a hardline anti-migration policy – many countries are eager to demonstrate that migrants will not cross the EU’s borders this time.

Along with Greece, Hungary also announced over the weekend that it is suspending admitting asylum seekers at the two entrances at the transit zone on its southern border.

Greece pointed to the new influx of asylum seekers from Turkey, while Hungarian officials cited a possible link between the coronavirus and migration.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2VIgPnt

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