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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 04, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• In absence of Assembly session, Thaci to hold press conference (media)
• Osmani: Request for Assembly session should be made days in advance (media)
• Thaci says meeting with Vucic was ‘encouraging’ (media)
• Hoti: Kosovo government’s agenda only successful with U.S. and EU coordination (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• Vucic: ”News on Belgrade-Pristina deal being reached is false” (B92)
• Grenell resigns as ambassador to Germany: White House announced his resignation (Serbian media)
• An unannounced guest at a meeting with Vucic, Grenell retweeted (Tanjug, B92, Blic)
• Judah: We could be approaching a crunch point in KOS-SRB dialogue, land swap talks without recognition (KoSSev)

Opinion:

• Wolves In The Woods: Liberal Democracy And Its Enemies (Balkan Insight)

International:

• Serbian President Sets Election Date as Boycott Threat Fades (news.yahoo.com, bloomberg.com)
• Field Missing: Discrepancies and Gaps Plague Kosovo’s Public Data (Balkan Insight)
• Serbia Keeps Pressure on Kosovo Despite Western Push for Thaw (Bloomberg)
• Territory, Energy, Politics: Serbia’s Long-Running Border Disputes (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • In absence of Assembly session, Thaci to hold press conference (media)
  • Osmani: Request for Assembly session should be made days in advance (media)
  • Thaci says meeting with Vucic was ‘encouraging’ (media)
  • Hoti: Kosovo government’s agenda only successful with U.S. and EU coordination (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Vucic: ”News on Belgrade-Pristina deal being reached is false” (B92)
  • Grenell resigns as ambassador to Germany: White House announced his resignation (Serbian media)
  • An unannounced guest at a meeting with Vucic, Grenell retweeted (Tanjug, B92, Blic)
  • Judah: We could be approaching a crunch point in KOS-SRB dialogue, land swap talks without recognition (KoSSev)

Opinion: 

  • Wolves In The Woods: Liberal Democracy And Its Enemies (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • Serbian President Sets Election Date as Boycott Threat Fades (news.yahoo.com, bloomberg.com)
  • Field Missing: Discrepancies and Gaps Plague Kosovo’s Public Data (Balkan Insight)
  • Serbia Keeps Pressure on Kosovo Despite Western Push for Thaw (Bloomberg)
  • Territory, Energy, Politics: Serbia’s Long-Running Border Disputes (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

In absence of Assembly session, Thaci to hold press conference (media)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci announced that he will hold a press conference today at 4 p.m. after his request to have a session of the Assembly today was rejected by Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani.

“If my reporting at the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo is not made possible, I will make other arrangements because the Assembly is of Kosovo, of the people of Kosovo, no one owns the Assembly of Kosovo and no one can usurp it,” Thaci said earlier.

He also said that he will invite leaders of all political parties and that his meetings in the U.S. removed any enigma about the U.S.’s role for Kosovo.

Osmani: Request for Assembly session should be made days in advance (media)

Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani has responded to President Hashim Thaci’s request made yesterday to call a session of the Assembly today so that he could address MPs about his recent visit to the U.S.

Osmani said that as per standard practice, the request to call a session needs to be made several days in advance so that the Assembly can make the necessary preparations. 

“Furthermore, I would like to inform you that the Assembly of Kosovo and the majority of legislators will be engaged in activities organised to mark the Kosovo Liberation Army Epopee which will take place throughout 5, 6 and 7 March. At the same time, on 9 March the Assembly will organise a thematic session aimed at awareness raising for the victims of sexual violence during the last war in Kosovo,” Osmani said in her response. 

She however said that Thaci’s request will be addressed in the next meeting of the Assembly presidency which will take place right after 9 March. “As the address you requested to make before the MPs has not been treated as an urgent matter in you letter, we will inform you very soon about the date when you will be able to address the Assembly.”

Thaci says meeting with Vucic was ‘encouraging’ (media)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci spoke about his recent meeting with President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic at the White House saying it was ‘encouraging’ and that it marked a positive turning point in efforts to reach a final agreement with Serbia.  

“We are engaged in reaching an agreement for Kosovo and Serbia, an agreement that would bring about mutual recognition between our countries and a speedier journey of Kosovo towards NATO, and of both countries towards the EU. The meeting in Washington, two days ago, I believe will be a critical and positive turning point,” Thaci is quoted to have said today at a public debate titled “Road to Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Kosovo”.

Thaci added that under the U.S. leadership, an agreement can be reached in the near future and that the two sides need to seize the opportunity presented by the U.S. “The meeting in Washington is encouraging for both sides,” he said.  

Hoti: Kosovo government’s agenda only successful with U.S. and EU coordination (media)

Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said that Serbia’s efforts to undermine statehood of Kosovo is systematic and not new.

“What is new is the political context in Kosovo, where new institutions that have full citizen legitimacy now take over the agenda of dialogue and foreign policy,” Hoti wrote on Facebook.

He said that it was evident that the agenda of the new government can only be successfully through coordination with the U.S. and the EU.

“Possible parallelism of new Kosovo institutions in face of these issues because of pseudo political causes, like the tariff, leads us to ghettoization.

“We will not allow ghettoization of Kosovo because this gives Serbia room to damage our international standing.” 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Vucic: ”News on Belgrade-Pristina deal being reached is false” (B92)

Addressing the public, following his visit to Washington DC, the President of Serbia said that news on Belgrade-Pristina deal being reached is false.

“My interlocutors in Washington have shown a good will to listen to us, and I am not someone who bases politics on dreams and imagination, especially when it comes to Serbia, but I think the door to our politics will be at least open,” Aleksandar Vucic said.

He also said that in recent days there was a lot of fake news that a big agreement was reached between Belgrade and Pristina, and that a plan was made. “No, it has not been discussed and it does not exist. If it did, I would be the first to tell you, because I never hid the smallest things from my people,” Vucic said.

“Grenell was right in saying that there was no big deal. I said there were no substantive discussions until the fees were abolished,” Vucic said.

He also noted that a “mini-Schengen” was also being discussed in Washington, which is of the utmost importance because it would accelerate the faster flow of people, goods and capital. Vucic also says he is going to Berlin in the next 10 days, where he will have an important meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Kosovo will be one of the topics.

Commenting on statements from Pristina, after Sierra Leone withdrew recognition of Kosovo’s independence, stating that Kosovo made a sign of goodwill by partially abolishing tariffs and Serbia “giving them this in return”, Vucic said it was as if someone had hit you, then he comes and says now I will stop hitting you, I will only slap you a little. In doing so, the following does not allow you to change the lock to protect yourself.

Serbia’s stance on resuming dialogue with Pristina is clear and all that I have said to the former EU administration three years ago didn’t change.

“You cannot tell us not to do our job. The moment you sign that you will not seek admission to Interpol, UNESCO and other international organizations before the end of the dialogue, we are ready to say that we will ‘pause’ the diplomatic offensive aimed at withdrawing independence of the so-called Kosovo”, he noted.

He said that if a deal is made, it must be a compromise. “Nothing has changed in our politics,” he said, pointing out that it is crucial for us to maintain peace and stability.

“To those who think it’s time for war calls on all sides, I want to say that they would yell that way one evening and the other day would say that we have destroyed Serbia and the future of our children. I do not want to participate in such political turmoil”. I will keep the country from destabilization, we will protect our national interests that they could not guard from 2000 to 2012, or from the 1990s to 2000 neither,” he stressed.

Grenell resigns: White House announced his resignation (Serbian media)

US National Intelligence Director Richard Grenell has informed the White House that he is resigning from the post of US Ambassador to Germany.

The Daily Wire’s information was shared by Donald Trump Junior, and in line with the modern proliferation of official announcements and endorsements – Grenell “approved of it” by retweeting it.

John Ratcliffe arrives at Grenell’s place. Grenell had planned to return home in the spring, but agreed to remain in administration, pending the official position of the head of intelligence.

Trump supporters have praised U.S. President for appointing Grenell, who holds a Harvard master’s degree in public administration.

Grenell is also considered Trump’s favorite ambassador due to his aggressive approaches to advocating for Trump’s interests overseas.

https://bit.ly/38rJU9P

An unannounced guest at a meeting with Vucic, Grenell retweeted (Tanjug, B92, Blic)

The White House meeting, apart from Richard Grenell and Aleksandar Vucic, was also attended by Jared Kushner.

“Ending a two-day visit to Washington, DC with excellent talks at the White House with US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Special Advisor to the US President and his

son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Special Envoy for the Belgrade-Priština dialogue Richard Grenell”.

Vucic wrote this on his official Twitter account with photos of the meeting, and his tweet was retweeted by Grenell.

According to Blic, that conversation was not announced, and Kushner was invited to the meeting by Richard Grenell.

“Blic” source said the conversation lasted more than an hour and was “very successful”.

“They have shown a lot of understanding in solving the Kosovo problem, they know that it is a very difficult issue for Serbia, but also that everyone has to gain, or lose, that both sides have to be dissatisfied,” the source said.

Grenell also tweeted a tweet from the US National Security Council (NSC) saying that relations between Kosovo and Serbia are of great importance to the administration of US President Donald Trump.

The NSC, a body that advises the US President on national security and foreign policy, has included in a Twitter post a photo from a meeting of National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and US Presidential Special Envoy for the Belgrade/Pristina Dialogue Richard Grenell with the Presidents of Kosovo and Serbia, Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic.

https://bit.ly/2wwOkyz

Judah: We could be approaching a crunch point in KOS-SRB dialogue, land swap talks without recognition (KoSSev)

We could be approaching a crunch point in Kosovo – Serbia dialogue following the meeting yesterday in DC between Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic. Land swap was discussed plus of course the 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 – a world-renowned journalist and publicist, Tim Judah said today, citing a well-informed source. In a similar tone, Pristina journalist Jeta Xharra posed several questions to Hashim Thaci, while different messages arrive from the two presidents currently staying in Washington.

A grand deal is on the horizon, but Thaci cannot deliver it?

”We could be approaching a crunch point in Kosovo – Serbia dialogue following the meeting yesterday in DC between Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic. Richard Grenell and Trump’s people would like to move quickly to a grand deal. The 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 Albin Kurti’s government,” Judah tweeted his findings on the alleged subject of the talks between the two presidents.

”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,” he said.

Judah revealed that he is not sure that this would help with Vucic’s election campaign.

”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 the majority remain in Kosovo,” he added.

Tim Judah confirmed for KoSSev that his tweets were based on ”a good briefing from a very knowledgeable source”.

”I think this is all the stuff they talked about and it is what they want to happen but whether it will, is another thing,” he said, adding that he does not know when such an agreement might possibly take place.

According to Judah, Thaci would ”like to hurry” because ”his time is trickling to an end”. He said that he believes there might be some people in the PDK ”who want this and an end to Albin Kurti’s admin before any anti-corruption investigations kick in”.

”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,” he concluded.

The US Special Envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Richard Grenell soon denied Judah’s allegations.

”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,” Grenell responded to Judah via Twitter.

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

 

Opinion

 

Wolves In The Woods: Liberal Democracy And Its Enemies (Balkan Insight)

The challenges facing liberal democracies today are serious enough to recall Europe’s descent into tyranny in the 1930s.

When the German playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote that, “All power comes from the people,” he went on to ask the rather important question, “But where does it go?”

Liberal democracy’s signal achievement in the half-century after World War II was to answer that question in a way that promoted social consensus and solidarity. Although governments were chosen by majorities of equal citizens, they worked within a constitutional order based on the rule of law, democratic institutions, and accepted values and rights. And they governed with the consent of a minority that they respected.

https://bit.ly/32Q5qUv

 

International

 

Serbian President Sets Election Date as Boycott Threat Fades (news.yahoo.com, bloomberg.com)

Serbia’s president set elections for next month, ignoring the fading threat of a boycott by opposition groups that complain he’s stifling free speech.

The vote will be held on April 26, Aleksandar Vucic announced Wednesday following months of squabbling with his critics and after the European Union encouraged his opponents to participate.

“There’ll be more than 50 days for campaigning — enough time for everyone to present their programs,” Vucic said, urging “peaceful and democratic elections.”

The proposed boycott has been something of an embarrassment for Vucic as he seeks to steer the biggest former Yugoslav republic toward membership of the EU. But despite the threats from the umbrella opposition group Alliance for Serbia delaying elections, the initiative has begun to unravel of late.

https://yhoo.it/32ST7qu

Field Missing: Discrepancies and Gaps Plague Kosovo’s Public Data (Balkan Insight)

Inaccurate and out-of-date public statistics are hurting Kosovo’s businesses and the country’s economic development, experts warn.

Roughly a decade ago, institutions in Kosovo dealing with state statistics such as the Central Bank, the Agency of Statistics and the Customs service agreed standardised procedures for gathering and processing data.

The aim was to increase accuracy and eliminate confusion for policymakers, researchers and the public.

Experts, however, say discrepancies remain rife and public data records are out of date.

https://bit.ly/38iz6dP

Serbia Keeps Pressure on Kosovo Despite Western Push for Thaw (Bloomberg)

Serbia maintained pressure over international recognition of its former province of Kosovo, even as the U.S. and the European Union step up efforts to bring about a lasting peace between the wartime foes.

https://bloom.bg/2IjwEcA

Territory, Energy, Politics: Serbia’s Long-Running Border Disputes (Balkan Insight)

Kosovo aside, Serbia has border disputes with three other countries that emerged from the ashes of federal Yugoslavia.

That Serbia does not recognise its southern border with Kosovo as a border at all is well known.

Less well known is that the country has border disputes with three fellow former Yugoslav republics – Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina – despite decades of negotiations since the collapse of their joint state.

https://bit.ly/3arQTka

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