Vucic: Kurti is right (Tanjug/Beta/B92)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday that he fully agrees with Albin Kurti‘s statement that decisions brought under pressure are worthless. However, he reminded Kosovo Prime Minister that everything that results from mere force is even less worth, as was the case with Kosovo’s seizure from Serbia by NATO aggression. In a text to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Kurti said that signing something under pressure or consenting to something through threats or coercion cannot be valid and lacks validity, legitimacy, and Vucic adds: “This is the only thing I agree with Kurti.” He said that he would repeat Kurti’s statement everywhere, because, as he explained, it implies that, everything obtained by force is even less worth: “Kurti must take into account that everything that has been achieved by force, and by aggression against Serbia, by the terrible aggression of 19 countries against Serbia, which is more than a threat and is a direct coercion,” Vucic said. He said that Serbia would wait for Pristina to abolish taxes on Serbian goods, adding that Serbia would not thank them then. “We will not say thank you when they suspend taxes, but we will tell them how much damage they have done to us, unlawfully, what they have done against our country and our people, and we will continue to work, to try to make this damage incomparably less in the future,” Vucic said to reporters in the village of Mala Remeta near Fruska Gora when visiting “Deuric” winery. He stated that he doesn’t intend to thank “the ones who ruined our economy”. Vucic quoted Kurti saying that signing something under pressure or consenting to something through threats or coercion cannot be valid and lacks validity and legitimacy. Vucic stated that he was “very pleased” by this statement and added that he would quote it “on any occasion and the meetings he attended in the world” and would “ask” everyone to appreciate Kurti’s argument, because, as he stated, “all that is obtained in Kosovo by force and aggression cannot be respected”. Vucic said that the US had taken a very rational and principled approach to the abolition of taxes by Pristina. “When we are asked by individual European partners to praise the partial abolition of taxes, it is like when you have a bully in the house, who is beating a woman with his fists and feet, but says one day ‘Starting from today, I will no longer use my fists and feet but, as a sign of goodwill, I’m just going to slap you”. And then this woman should say, “I’m just happy about that, it’s a wonderful sign of attention and we’re now much better off”, Vucic concluded.
Dacic: Kosovo issue poses greatest political and security challenge (Tanjug/RTS/RTV/Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stated on Friday that joint work on the further intensification of bilateral cooperation and the cherishing of good relations with the United States is one of the most important tasks of the Serbian diplomacy. “As I have underlined early on, promoting the relations with the United States has been one of Serbia’s foreign policy priorities, as a token of respect for the important role played by the US in the global world order and towards the vision of our region as a stable one, in terms of both security and economy, and an integral part of the united European family of nations based on democratic values. This was also demonstrated by the recent visit by President Vucic to Washington, D.C., when he had important meetings with top US officials, on which occasion the unequivocal and unconditional support to the continuation of dialogue with Pristina was reaffirmed to us including to the immediate revocation of taxes illegally imposed by Pristina against Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, for which we are particularly grateful. The issue of Kosovo and Metohija, which is of vital national interest to Serbia and poses the greatest political and security challenge, is also an important topic of our political dialogue. Despite divergent positions, Serbia remains fully open to further discussions on both a technical and political level with the US as one of the key partners in the process of reaching a lasting and sustainable solution. We hope that the US Special Envoys Grenell and Palmer will continue to have a constructive approach and remain to be actively involved in overcoming the stalemate in the dialogue and assist in finding a mutually acceptable, fair and sustainable solution. We also hope that immediately after the illegally imposed taxes on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been lifted, the dialogue will continue in good faith and without no further conditions on reciprocal measures. Serbia highly values the support that the US is continuously providing to us in the pursuit of full EU membership, as our strategic goal. Maintaining a positive dynamic in the European integration process is crucial to the stability and development of Serbia and the entire region. In this regard, I hope that the US will continue to actively support our country in achieving this goal. In its relations with the United States, as well as in its overall activities internationally, Serbia seeks to establish itself as an active, responsible and reliable partner which is at the same time the pillar of regional stability. Starting with strengthening regional relations, stabilizing the Western Balkans and addressing outstanding issues as prerequisites for the development of the entire region, through addressing issues in a proper manner such as the migrant crisis, the continuation of successful bilateral cooperation in the fight against organized crime and international terrorism, participation in peacekeeping missions, to military cooperation with the US, where programs within the State Partnership of the Republic of Serbia and the Ohio National Guard occupy a special place, which are already being utilized even in the sphere of civil relations – Serbia is showing its willingness to take its share of responsibility on international level.
In this regard, we are grateful for the understanding and support shown by the US regarding our initiatives such as “mini-Schengen” that should help achieve the goals aimed at the well-being of the entire region. In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that working together to further intensify bilateral cooperation and foster good relations with the US is one of the most important tasks of Serbian diplomacy and the Ministry I am at the helm of. Fostering our relations is not only a necessity because of the current challenges and complex geopolitical circumstances around the world and the many current security threats that are indivisible in the modern age, but also because of the same values we share and the historical heritage that bonds us together.
Therefore, I see today’s gathering as a significant step towards a better grasp of Serbia-US relations and alliances, which can only help achieve a common goal to overcome the negative legacy and perception and build the foundations for better relations in the future,” said Dacic in his address.
Jeremic: Vucic agreed to Kosovo getting a seat in UN (VoA/N1)
Head of the People’s Party (NS) Vuk Jeremic stayed in Washington where he met with US State Department officials, congressmen and senators. In an interview with Voice of America (VoA), he stated that they discussed the upcoming elections in Serbia. The US administration is against the boycott of the election, and Jeremic claims they have now accepted it (the boycott), VoA reports. “What was very important was that something we had been told before – that unless we took part in the election we would no longer be a credible interlocutor of the international community, was obviously taken off the table, and the Serbian opposition remains a credible interlocutor of the international community,” Jeremic told VoA. It was not difficult to conclude that the US has high expectations from Belgrade and Pristina immediately after the elections in Serbia, Jeremic said. “Before the election in Serbia – no, but after the election, there are high expectations. I expressed my concern regarding those expectations. I don’t think that what was presented is true. I also expressed my suspicion in the credibility of Vucic’s Washington interlocutor Hashim Thaci expressing doubt that he could deliver what they agreed on,” Jeremic said. Asked if he knew what they had agreed on and what will happen with Kosovo after the election, Jeremic said they did not tell him. “It would be wrong of me to convey even the insinuations which US officials may have conveyed to me. My expectation is that it is a comprehensive agreement to normalize relations between Belgrade and Pristina,” Jeremic said. My conclusion is that Ambassador Grenell and the top US administration expect Belgrade and Pristina to conclude their November agreement. When I spoke to my interlocutors in Washington, none of them said they disagreed with my analysis,” he added.
Constitutional Court’s decision on Law on Agricultural Land of RS published in Official Gazette of B&H (FTV)
The Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Constitutional Court’s decision, according to which the Article 53 of the Law on Agricultural Land of Republika Srpska (RS) has been ruled unconstitutional, was published in the Official Gazette of B&H. The Constitutional Court passed this decision at the beginning of February, ruling that the agricultural land in the RS is considered property of B&H rather than the property of the RS. The RS parliament recently adopted conclusion calling on the RS representatives in the B&H institutions to suspend participation in decision-making process until adoption of a new Law on the B&H CC, which would define the end of mandate of foreign judges in the CC.
Dodik: OHR and Constitutional Court of B&H are part of package against RS which aims to undermine constitutional and Dayton position of RS (RTRS)
An extended session of the SNSD Executive Committee took place in Banja Luka on Friday. One of the conclusions of the session was that SNSD wants to further emphasize that it supports the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and everything written in it. Following the session, SNSD leader Milorad Dodik told a press conference that it is visible the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H and the OHR are part of a package against RS which aims to undermine its constitutional position. Dodik further said that political situation in B&H is complex and that representatives of the international community are not contributing to resolving the situation. He noted that lack of support for SNSD and HDZ B&H’s proposal to adopt the law on the Constitutional Court of B&H represents direct support to Bosniak representatives and a clear message. “The OHR and the CC are part of a package against the RS that should degrade its constitutional and Dayton position and that is a policy that for many years can be seen as coordinated between these institutions, the OHR, the CC and the international community that supports such work of the CC and the OHR, as well as the Bosniak side,” Dodik explained. The SNSD Executive Committee also concluded that SNSD officials in the joint institutions of B&H should stick to the conclusions of the RS parliament adopted on 17 February regarding suspension of participation in decision-making processes. Dodik rejected SDA Vice-President Adil Osmanovic‘s call on SNSD to withdraw from the Council of Ministers (CoM) of B&H due to the blockade. Dodik stressed that SNSD has a clear policy, supports stances of the RS institutions and continues to implement them. After the session, Dodik said that representatives of the US Administration and the EU are against the adoption of law which would expel foreign judges from the Constitutional Court and appoint domestic judges in their place. The SNSD Executive Committee adopted the proposal to make changes to the Rules of Procedure aimed to prevent abuse of procedures and enable the possibility of introducing more order in the work of the RS parliament. The SNSD Executive Committee underlined that it is necessary to return to the original Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) and initiate discussion on the inter-entity boundary line.
PDP not to endorse Proposal of Law on Constitutional Court of B&H prepared by SNSD and HDZ B&H (BN TV)
Conclusions adopted at the most recent session of the Main Board of PDP were presented at the press conference on Saturday. Among other things, the Main Board concluded that current coalition at the level of B&H consisting of SNSD, HDZ B&H and SDA is not capable of solving a single problem important for the citizens. It also concluded that poor political decisions of SNSD led to situation where RS lost several positions in joint institutions of B&H. The Main Board of PDP also decided that this party will not support Proposal of the Law on the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H sent into the parliamentary procedure by SNSD and HDZ, because it stipulates that three foreign judges in the B&H CC will be replaced by three domestic judges appointed by the Presidency of B&H and by the House of Peoples (HoP) of the parliament of B&H. PDP insists on solution agreed during the recent meeting of representatives of political parties from the RS when it was concluded that proposed law will stipulate appointment of one judge from the RS and two from the Federation of B&H by authorities in these entities.
Only one Serb minister appointed in new government of Sarajevo Canton; Jelicic goes from Croat to Serb during intermission (RTRS)
After several months of stalling, the new Sarajevo Canton (SC) government has been formed. The new majority, made out of SDA, SBB B&H and DF, has chosen the new Prime Minister and ministers. RTRS underlines that the Constitution of the Federation of B&H was violated as in accordance to this document, three Serb ministers were supposed to sit in the new government convocation, but only one, DF member Drasko Jelicic, will sit in the SC Government. RTRS also notes that Jelicic previously stated he was a Croat, but “during intermission of the SC Assembly session, he became a Serb”, which was then presented as if one Serb was appointed to the government. DF also refused to comment the matter. “When the RS government is appointed, if the constitutional principle is not respected, then all immediately stand against the decision. But, when the Federation of B&H and the cantons are in question, then no one raises the question of constitutional principles. Not one embassy commented the SC government appointment, and the Office of the High Representative (OHR) remained silent,” said President of the Committee for Protection of Serbs in the Federation of B&H, Djordje Radanovic.
SDA will propose law on Mostar together with SBB and DF (Dnevni avaz)
After the meeting in Mostar several days ago, SDA and HDZ B&H leaders, Bakir Izetbegovic and Dragan Covic respectively, have both clearly said that elections in Mostar will take place in 2020. However, they have also confirmed that they are not exactly close to reaching an agreement. Daily learns that at least two meetings between local representatives of SDA and HDZ B&H will take place by the end of March; however, author concluded that even though the negotiation process has been intensified lately, one has to wonder if it is realistic to expect SDA and HDZ B&H to reach an agreement. In a short statement for the daily, Chairman of the SDA City Board in Mostar Salem Maric reiterated that “SDA will not accept changes to the Election Law (of B&H) without the adoption of changes to Statute of the City (of Mostar)”. “If we fail to reach an agreement by the end of March, SDA will – together with its coalition partners, SBB and DF, but also with other pro-Bosnian parties – submit proposal of the law on the City of Mostar to the Federation of B&H parliament,” said Maric. On the other hand, member of HDZ City Board’s negotiating team Damir Dzeba said that the issue of election rules needs to be resolved above all, because “the story about Statute does not imply holding of elections”. Dzeba told daily that the issue of the Statute of the City of Mostar should be dealt with by the future members of the Mostar City Assembly. Daily reminded that the Parliamentary Assembly of B&H has until the end of June to implement the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (in case ‘Irma Baralija vs. B&H’), and if it fails to do so, the Constitutional Court of B&H will be authorized to adopt some kind of temporary solution. Author reminded that back in 2010, the Constitutional Court annulled the rules set in 2004 by former High Representative Paddy Ashdown.
Ambassador Sabolic: It is necessary to change Election Law to prevent possibility for one people to elect representatives of other people (Dnevni avaz)
Croatian Ambassador to B&H Ivan Sabolic, said that the meeting between Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and Security Minister Fahrudin Radoncic is an example of good cooperation and the meeting resulted in establishing of better communication framework for resolving of the current situation with illegal migrants. Asked if Croatian policy towards B&H will change with election of President Zoran Milanovic, Sabolic said that relations with B&H are developed on principles of good-neighborly relations, respecting of sovereignty and territorial integrity. He stressed that relations with B&H are one of Croatia’s foreign-policy priorities. Ambassador stressed that Croatia strongly supports Euro-Atlantic path of B&H with the condition of fulfilled conditions and criteria. He underlined that none of EU member states provided that much assistance to B&H as Croatia did, especially in submitting of the membership application. Sabolic noted that Croatian Presidency advocates progress of B&H towards the status of the EU candidate and in this regard Croatia encourages B&H to carry out necessary reforms. “Zagreb Summit will be an opportunity for strengthening of accession processes of our neighbors and a new swing in dynamics of their accession to the EU in following years” said Sabolic. Commenting the issue of changes to Election Law, Sabolic said that equality of the peoples in B&H has been violated to the detriment of Croat people, which is a reason for concern. “Therefore, it is necessary to prevent one constituent people to elect other people’s representatives,” said Sabolic. He stressed that Croatia supports democratic agreement about just Election Law which would guarantee acceptance of European values, prevent abuse and secure equality of three constituent peoples and all citizens. Ambassador concluded that such change of the Election Law will be a key step towards political stability and progress, which are possible only with the mechanisms which strengthen mutual trust and which guarantee institutional and true equality of constituent peoples.
Dodik: Deployment of members of Armed Forces of B&H to border with Serbia and Montenegro is unacceptable (N1)
Serb member of the Presidency of B&H and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik said on Friday that deployment of members of the Armed Forces (AF) of B&H to the border with Serbia and Montenegro is unacceptable. Dodik reiterated that SNSD remains committed to previously established policy that there will be no establishment of centers for migrants in the RS. This topic was in the focus of Friday’s session of the SNSD Executive Committee, but also in the focus of the meeting between Dodik and Minister of Security of B&H Fahrudin Radoncic which took place in Banja Luka on Friday. “The Executive Committee rejects the possibility and deems as unacceptable to deploy the Armed Forces of B&H to the border towards Serbia and Montenegro. In that regard, that measure would not contribute to preventing the negative influence of the migrant crisis, rather it would only be a worthless manifestation in which border towards Serbia would be strengthened and one would try to demarcate it in a way in which certain circles in Sarajevo want,” said Dodik. Dodik stressed that the B&H AF will not be deployed to the border with Serbia and Montenegro, noting that this is not a measure to combat the migrant crisis, but a pure political manifestation from Sarajevo. “It is necessary to draft an operational plan of the government and all bodies of RS in order to confront this issue in the best possible way with primary goal to ensure the safety of our people,” Dodik underlined. “The biggest contribution to that was given by the EU which declared an open-door policy when it comes to migrants. That was a clear sign for a huge number of migrants to start moving, not only those affected by the war in Syria, but they most frequently come from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries,” Dodik underlined. Dodik said that B&H does not have the funding to resolve the migrant crisis in B&H, noting that this is a joint problem of all levels of authority in the country. He underlined that the Ministry of Security of B&H is not superordinate to any security agency, but rather a body which is in charge of coordination. Dodik underlined that it is important to put an end to practice from the past, when the Ministry of Security tried to impose certain solutions, while some people working in the Ministry presented lies about paramilitary and some other formations. SDA commented on Dodik’s statement that he does not want the Armed Forces of B&H at the border with Serbia. In their statement issued on Friday, SDA underlined that Dodik’s insisting not to engage B&H AF in protection of borders shows that he is prepared to sacrifice safety of citizens, primarily those in the RS, for his political adventures and blackmails. President of the RS Zeljka Cvijanovic said on Friday that the RS cannot be a collective center and parking lot for migrants and that this stance will not change. Cvijanovic stressed that the RS does not have the possibility to build capacities and cope with something which is primarily security, but also health, economic and social risk. “We are not changing our relation towards the EU but our message is that they cannot expect from us to open our borders if they do not open theirs” Cvijanovic underlined. Cvijanovic said that the situation in the RS would have been better had the RS formed the reserve police unit. She added that this idea was sabotaged by Sarajevo even though it would have helped everyone. Cvijanovic stressed that this would make it easier for the RS government to handle the migrant crisis in the RS.
Croatia willing to help refugee children on Greek islands (Hina)
Croatia is ready to take in some of the child refugees trapped in inhumane conditions in refugee camps on Greek islands, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Sunday. A great number of young refugees, who are not accompanied by parents or by some older relatives, are stuck in makeshift camps for refugees and migrants. Plenkovic confirmed that Croatia was ready to accept some of those unaccompanied minors who are staying in difficult conditions on those islands. The transfer of child refugees and migrants from those islands to other EU member states will be on the EU agenda after the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, visits the Greek islands swarmed with migrants next week. “Croatia has always shown a totally humanitarian approach. We used to be a country with dislocated people and refugees, notably those from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Children need additional protection,” said Plenkovic. Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said at a news conference on Sunday afternoon that Croatia had experience in providing care for child refugees and unaccompanied minors. Commissioner Johansson is tasked with checking the status of each unaccompanied minor who is likely to be transferred from Greek islands to EU member states. This measure has been ordered so as to prevent the abuse the status of “unaccompanied minors” by families that suddenly appear and seek asylum in the country that has received the child concerned, the Zagreb-based Vecernji List daily wrote on Sunday.
Markovic to Irinej: Scenario of a religious and national state is not acceptable in Montenegro (CDM)
Patriarch Irinej must understand and accept that Montenegro is a secular, civil and multinational state. In modern Montenegro, scenario of a religious and national country just can’t be accepted, said Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic. “I would like to ask Mr. Irinej to let go of Montenegrin values and its potential,” said deputy DPS leader. Markovic stated that policies of the bloody 1990s were revived in Montenegro. “Law on Freedom of Religion was just a motive for destruction of European and civil Montenegro,” Markovic pointed out. He stressed that nobody could pull Montenegro into conflicts and instability.
Government ensures environment for successful negotiation of expert teams (CDM)
In order to provide an environment for successful negotiations between the two expert teams, the government will not comment on certain media and political allegations in relation to the structure of our negotiation team. “Any attempt to challenge individuals or entire teams is also an attempt to break down the entire dialogue. It only confirms that many, through the disinformation campaign, seek to prevent the dialogue that should lead to a solution and compromise, to which the government has been committed,” the government stated. As they pointed out, bearing in mind that current research shows that two thirds of Montenegrin citizens believe that the solution to this issue is in dialogue, the govt will communicate with the expert team of the church with full respect, without any intention to address the issue of professional and/or personal credibility of its members. The meeting between the expert teams of the government and the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral will be held on Wednesday at the Villa Gorica in the capital, Podgorica.
Pazin: Argumentative dialogue can lead to solution (RTCG/VoA)
Dialogue between the Montenegrin government and the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral, which is to continue next week, will be focused, as we believe, on provisions of the religious freedom law that refer to land ownership issues, Deputy Prime Minister of the government of Montenegro, Zoran Pazin, told in an interview for Voice of America. “I would say that my visit to Washington was very successful and helpful. I had the opportunity to hear words of encouragement, support and understanding for the democratic needs of Montenegro’s development. I was assured by my interlocutors that the United States is ready to support Montenegro on its Euro-Atlantic path, as a partner, friend and an ally within the NATO alliance, and it is something really encouraging to us”. There’s a high degree of understanding in the United States for Montenegro’s need to have such a modern law, Pazin added. He continued: “Of course, we also discussed the issue of freedom of religion, that is, the application of the law on freedom of religion, or belief and legal status of religious communities in Montenegro. I reiterated the readiness of the Government of Montenegro to speak with representatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church through an open and argumentative dialogue about all the issues important for the relationship between the State and the Church.” Argumentative dialogue can lead to a mutually acceptable solution, especially if there’s a good will on both sides, according to Deputy PM Pazin.
Nuhodzic to Patriarch Irinej: There are no signs that conflict might erupt in Montenegro (MINA)
Internal affairs minister, Mevludin Nuhodzic, noted that there were no indications that a conflict or tensions might erupt, and especially not a bloodshed, as the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej, warned. According to Minister Nuhodzic, current events related to the religion law confirm that the Montenegrin society is democratically mature and that all differences in opinions and views, as well as challenges, will be resolved in a democratic and civilized manner. “Therefore, we can think differently, and these are certainly attainments of democracy, but we must not allow any violation of the principles of a civil, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. Neither by action nor by sparkling tensions. I am sure that citizens will not support, and state bodies will certainly not allow, to anyone, inside or out, to try to threaten peace and stability in Montenegro,” Nuhodzic told MINA news agency. He was adamant – the State of Montenegro will prevent any attempt of violence, spurring mayhem or any other kind of conflict in the country. Prime Minister Dusko Markovic also responded to Patriarch Irinej’s statement, saying that he (Irinej) should understand and accept that Montenegro is a secular, civic and multi-national state.
Zaev and Sekerinska to head MP lists (Republika)
SDSM leader Zoran Zaev and Radmila Sekerinska, current Minister of Defense and Vice-President of SDSM will head their lists of MP candidates, they announced at a joint press conference on Sunday. “We coordinate with coalition partners. Of course, we will have women that will head lists, here I can say that Radmila Sekerinska and I will be heading MP lists” Zaev said while answering journalist questions. They said that both men and women will head lists of MP candidates in each election district.
DUI completes candidate lists for MPs in upcoming elections (Alsat-M)
DUI has completed the list of candidates for MPs for the upcoming elections. According to Alsat-M, party leader Ali Ahmeti will be holder of the list in the sixth election district, Talat Xhaferi in the fifth election district. Former Economy Minister Bekim Neziri will be holder of the list in the third election district, Education Minister Arbr Ademi in the second, and Izet Medziti, the party’s vice president, in the first election district.
DPA to run alone at elections (Alsat-M)
The Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) will run alone at the coming parliamentary elections, decided the party’s presidency in Tetovo on Saturday. “At the session, the party president referred to the situation, a debate began and a decision was made. DPA will run alone at the coming parliamentary elections. We take this opportunity to urge all Albanians to support and vote for DPA as the only national party of the Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia” said party spokesman Luan Tresi,” Alsat-M reported.
Culev: Macedonia will close the southern border (Republika)
Minister of Interior Nake Culev said Saturday the southern border would be fully closed for the purpose of preventing a new migrant wave. “Macedonia is in constant communication with FRONTEX and our EU partners. Macedonia will definitely close the border. We have the capacity to deal as with the previous migrant crisis and now we are much better prepared, and we have partner police in joint patrols on the southern border where we currently have 131 policemen from 8 countries,” Culev said.
Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, CAA open letter to US President Trump (ADN)
Council of Albanian Ambassadors addressed an open letter to the US President Donald J. Trump over the ongoing dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. In the long letter CAA welcomes the engagement of your Administration to advance the EU-facilitated dialogue, adding that it will help for the normalization of the relations between Kosovo and Serbia offers a window of opportunity for both countries to finally turn a new page. The full letter below:
Dear Mr. President,
The Council of the Albanian Ambassadors would like to use this opportunity to heartily thank you and the United States of America for the continued support for Albanians in the Balkans.
A few weeks ago, on February 17, Kosovo celebrated the Twelfth anniversary of Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence. As you expressed in your congratulatory letter to the President of the Republic of Kosovo, the strong bonds between the United States and Kosovo have been forged by a shared commitment to Kosovo’s development as a sovereign, independent, multiethnic and democratic country. The people of Kosovo have struggled for freedom and independence for almost a century. Those objectives finally have been achieved with the determination and indispensable support of our Western friends and allies, primarily the United States of America. The consistent support of the U.S. for the legitimate aspirations of the people of Kosovo was truly fundamental. It further cemented the friendship existing between Albanians and Americans since the end of World War I. President Wilson’s administration defended the right of Albania proper to exist as an independent state. The Albanian people will never forget their debt of gratitude and are proud to be the most pro-American nation in Southeast Europe.
As an independent country, the Republic of Kosovo has made tremendous progress in its path to building viable democratic institutions and a vibrant democracy, in which human liberties and the rule of law prevail. Today in Kosovo, ethnic minorities enjoy unparalleled individual and collective rights in keeping with the highest international standards. In a region in which acute inter – and intra – state problems exist, the situation in Kosovo is stable and does not pose any threats to regional peace and security. The Republic of Kosovo constitutes a cornerstone for stability and security in this part of Europe.
Dear Mr. President, let us use this occasion to recall that Kosovo proclaimed its independence following a long and thorough process of UN-led negotiations, closely coordinated with the international community led by the USA. In its Advisory Opinion in 2010, the International Court of Justice found that the proclamation of independence of Kosovo was in full compliance with international law. The dialogue facilitated by the EU for the normalization of the relations between Kosovo and Serbia offers a window of opportunity for both countries to finally turn a new page. The Council of Albanian Ambassadors supports this process and hopes that it will be finalized with mutual diplomatic recognition as two independent and sovereign neighboring countries. The Council of Albanian Ambassadors also welcomes the engagement of your Administration to advance the EU-facilitated dialogue. We have already seen some promising results with the recent agreements on air and rail transportation brokered by your Special Envoy Ambassador Richard Grenell. The Council of Albanian Ambassadors firmly believes that the outcome of the EU-facilitated dialogue should comply with the agreed principles for the settlement of the final status of Kosovo, as enshrined in the documents of the Contact Group that monitored and supervised international policy in Kosovo, as well as the Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement, also known as “the Ahtisaari Plan.” Those guiding principles provide for the territorial integrity of the Republic of Kosovo within its internationally recognized borders and preservation of the multi-ethnic character of Kosovo. Alternative approaches based on the notion of re-drawing or shifting borderlines along ethnic principles have the potential to undermine the stability of Kosovo and other multi-ethnic countries in South-East Europe. Ensuring that these principles are honored throughout the process is the common responsibility of all actors involved. They are critically important for the long-term peace, stability and European perspective of the region.
Dear Mr. President, while we have greeted Kosovo on its celebration day, the Council of Albanian Ambassadors extended its deepest gratitude to all those who with numerous sacrifices turned the dream for a free and independent Kosovo into a beautiful reality. Gratitude goes also to all the international friends of Kosovo and, in particular, to the USA and Your leadership that have always supported and continue to do so for the incessant and further consolidation of the youngest state in Europe. Please, Mr. President, accept the assurances of our highest consideration.
Respectfully, Council of Albanian Ambassadors
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Erdogan holds Brussels talks as situation on Greek border gets nasty (EurActiv/AFP, 9 March 2020)
Migration crisis talks were set to be held between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and senior EU officials in Brussels on Monday (9 March), as Germany said the bloc was considering taking in 1,500 child refugees.
Tens of thousands of asylum-seekers have been trying to break through the land border from Turkey for a week after Ankara announced it would no longer prevent people from trying to cross into the European Union. Turkey, which hosts around four million mostly Syrian refugees, has repeatedly railed against what it describes as unfair burden-sharing. Erdoğan called on Greece to “open the gates” to the migrants after Greek police used tear gas and water cannon in skirmishes with crowds at the border. “I hope I will return from Belgium with different outcomes,” he said at a speech in Istanbul on Sunday as he announced the meeting. “Hey Greece! I appeal to you… open the gates as well and be free of this burden,” he said, adding: “Let them go to other European countries.” Early on Monday, Germany said the EU was considering taking in up to 1,500 migrant children who are currently housed in Greek camps.
“A humanitarian solution is being negotiated at the European level for a ‘coalition of the willing’ to take in these children,” the government said in a statement. Berlin was ready to take in an “appropriate” share, it added, saying the country wanted to support Greece in the “difficult” situation it is facing. Concern over the plight of the minors have grown as they either require urgent medical treatment or are unaccompanied by adults. On Friday, Erdoğan ordered the Turkish coastguard to prevent risky Aegean sea crossings after more than 1,700 migrants landed on Lesbos and four other Aegean islands from Turkey over the past week. The coastguard however said Turkey’s policy of allowing migrants and refugees to leave by land was untouched, and the instruction only affected sea crossings.
The Turkish president will meet European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at 6pm (1700 GMT) on Monday. They will “discuss EU-Turkey matters, including migration, security, stability in the region and the crisis in Syria,” Michel’s spokesman said on Twitter. In 2016, Turkey and the EU agreed a deal whereby Brussels would provide billions of euros in aid in exchange for Turkish authorities curbing the flow of migrants. But Ankara has repeatedly accused the bloc of not fulfilling promises that were made while Europe suffered its worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Over a million people fled to the continent in 2015. Erdoğan’s top press aide has said one of the unmet conditions was that the EU would take in refugees from Turkey. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Michel met Erdoğan in Ankara on Wednesday as Turkey demanded greater support over the conflict and migrants. After the talks, Borrell promised an additional €170 million in aid for vulnerable groups in Syria. Erdoğan has felt extra pressure as nearly a million people in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib fled towards the Turkish border during the recent Syrian regime assault backed by Russia and Iran. But the president and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed a ceasefire on Thursday after Turkey launched an offensive against Damascus following the deaths of 59 Turkish security personnel in attacks blamed on the regime.
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