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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, March 11

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• Thaci calls on government to accept U.S. requests: Clashes are dangerous (media)
• Kurti: Differences of opinions should not become contradictions (Koha)
• Isa Mustafa: I have sent an envoy to meet Grenell (media)
• Veseli to Kurti: You triggered most dangerous debate in Kosovo-US relations (media)
• Trump Jr: There are 650 troops in Kosovo. Time to bring them home (media)
• PM Kurti meets Franco-German delegation (Zeri)
• Haradinaj meets Veseli, Limaj; discuss plans for a “Unity Conference” (media)
• Kosovo government approves €10 million action plan to face coronavirus (media)
• Ministry: Kosovo schools to remain open until further notice (media)
• Pristina municipality takes first preventive measures against coronavirus (Telegrafi)
• Serbian man wanted for war crimes arrested in Budapest (Koha)

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  • Thaci calls on government to accept U.S. requests: Clashes are dangerous (media)
  • Kurti: Differences of opinions should not become contradictions (Koha)
  • Isa Mustafa: I have sent an envoy to meet Grenell (media)
  • Veseli to Kurti: You triggered most dangerous debate in Kosovo-US relations (media)
  • Trump Jr: There are 650 troops in Kosovo. Time to bring them home (media)
  • PM Kurti meets Franco-German delegation (Zeri)
  • Haradinaj meets Veseli, Limaj; discuss plans for a “Unity Conference” (media)
  • Kosovo government approves €10 million action plan to face coronavirus (media)
  • Ministry: Kosovo schools to remain open until further notice (media)
  • Pristina municipality takes first preventive measures against coronavirus (Telegrafi)
  • Serbian man wanted for war crimes arrested in Budapest (Koha)

Kosovo Media Highlights

Thaci calls on government to accept U.S. requests: Clashes are dangerous (media)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci reacted on Tuesday after remarks by U.S. Senator David Perdue that the U.S. could reconsider their military presence in Kosovo if the government does not lift the import tariff on Serbia.

Thaci said: “As President of the Republic of Kosovo, I urgently call on the Government of the Republic of Kosovo to meet and decide in line with the official requests of the United States of America. You have gone too far in threatening our special ties with the U.S., without whom we would not have our freedom, state or future. With this approach, you are questioning the very future of our state. All of us, heads of institutions, political leaders and the government, are replaceable. Crucial and irreplaceable for the Republic of Kosovo are the relations with the U.S. Confrontation with the U.S. is very detrimental and an unmistakable mistake for Kosovo’s modern history”.

Kurti: Differences of opinions should not become contradictions (Koha)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti commented on reports that the U.S. could impose sanctions on Kosovo because of its refusal to fully lift the import tariff on Serbia saying that he has no such information.

He added that the government of Kosovo wants to have good relations with the U.S. and that differences should not become contradictions. “We want better relations with the U.S. than before. They are our irreplaceable ally and partners in the economic, political, cultural, military, and other aspects,” he said.

Kurti admitted however that there are disagreements with his coalition partner, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), over the future steps regarding the import tariff.

“When I presented my position as prime minister on gradual replacement of the tariff, it seems it did not go well with some LDK exponents. I don’t want government decisions to be taken through simple majority. The foreign policy needs harmonisation with all state institutions, especially the government. Until we reach such consensus, I would not prefer to present my proposal to the Government for decision-making,” Kurti said.

“I don’t think the U.S. KFOR should pull out of Kosovo. On the contrary, I think it will not do so. We have seen a wish from the son of the United States president, but this is unrelated to the 100 percent tariff. Even if this wish becomes the decision of the U.S. president, it will still not be related to the 100 percent tariff. It has to do with downsizing of troops which the U.S. undertook also in Afghanistan and Syria,” Kurti said at a mayoral election rally in Podujeve yesterday.

Isa Mustafa: I have sent an envoy to meet Grenell (media)

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa reacted on Tuesday after remarks by senior U.S. officials that Washington could reconsider its military presence in Kosovo if the latter does not lift the import tariff on Serbia.

Mustafa said relations between Kosovo and the United States are at a very delicate and critical point and that remarks by U.S. Senator Perdue are proof of this.

Mustafa reiterated the position of the LDK that the tariff should be lifted in line with Washington’s request and added that he has dispatched a senior party member to talk directly to U.S. Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell to get information about what President Thaci discussed during his recent stay in Washington.

Mustafa also said he will discuss with Prime Minister Albin Kurti to come up with a joint position that does not threaten relations between Kosovo and the United States.

Veseli to Kurti: You triggered most dangerous debate in Kosovo-US relations (media)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Kadri Veseli said on Tuesday that at a time when support for Kosovo from the United States is crucial and highly necessary, the current government unlike any other previous government, has triggered the most dangerous and damaging debate in relations between Kosovo and the U.S, most news websites report.

Veseli took to Facebook to say that the remarks by U.S. Senator David Perdue for reviewing the U.S. military presence in Kosovo are very serious. “Kurti government’s questioning the role of the U.S. and our unwavering alliance with the American state is the biggest damage an elected political representative of Kosovo has managed to inflict upon our country. Putting Kosovo at a dangerous national crossroad, not from a foreign threat but by the Prime Minister’s acts, is a bad omen for our country,” Veseli wrote.

Trump Jr: There are 650 troops in Kosovo. Time to bring them home (media)

Most news websites report that Donald Trump Jr., the son of U.S. President Donald Trump, has supported remarks by U.S. Senator David Perdue who called on Kosovo to lift the import tariff on Serbia warning that the U.S. could as a response reconsider its military presence in Kosovo.

“For over two decades, US forces have helped keep the peace between Kosovo & Serbia. Now, with historic progress in sight, Kosovo must do its part & abolish all duties imposed on Serbia. If Kosovo is not fully committed to peace, then the US should reconsider its presence there,” Perdue wrote on Twitter.

Trump Jr retweeted Perdue’s message, adding “I agree. There are 650 troops in Kosovo. Time to bring them home”.

Meanwhile, former commander of U.S. forces in Europe, Ben Hodges, opposed the idea of withdrawing troops from Kosovo.

“This would be a mistake…KFOR is the lone anchor of stability in the region.  Pulling them out now, before agreements have been implemented, would be like pulling all your starters in the middle of a comeback in the 4th quarter, just before you take the lead,” he wrote on Twitter.

PM Kurti meets Franco-German delegation (Zeri)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti met yesterday a delegation headed by the advisor to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Jan Hecker, and the advisor to the French President Emmanuel Macron, Emmanuel Bonne.

“We discussed several topics. One of them was the issue of European integration, of reforms we have begun as a new government and the visa liberalisation and on the other hand the dialogue with Serbia [and] how the new dialogue for normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia would have to look like,” Kurti said after the meeting.

Speaking about visa liberalisation, Kurti said that no timeline as to when the process will end can be given but noted that France’s position has moved in a positive direction.

“From the Munich Security Conference onwards, there is an evolved position of President Macron and if we have a softening of position from the Netherlands then we can move forward. Our rational objective is to have liberalisation before the Zagreb summit but no one can promise this.”

Haradinaj meets Veseli, Limaj; discuss plans for a “Unity Conference” (media)

Leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj met yesterday the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) Kadri Veseli and that of the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA) Fatmir Limaj to discuss organising what he called a “Unity Conference”.

“It was a joint conclusion that Kosovo, now more than ever, needs internal political unity at the final stage of dialogue with Serbia. Consultative meetings with leaders of parliamentary parties will continue in the coming days,” Haradinaj wrote on Facebook.

He also said that yesterday he sent letters to Vetevendosje Leader Albin Kurti, Democratic League of Kosovo leader Isa Mustafa, leader of the Serbian List Goran Rakic, and representatives of the 6 Plus parliamentary group.

Kosovo government approves €10 million action plan to face coronavirus (media)

The Kosovo Government adopted on Tuesday a request by the Minister of Healthcare Arben Vitia to approve a €10 million action plan to respond to the coronavirus. Vitia said at the government meeting that the Ministry of Healthcare has raised the readiness to tackle the eventual spread of the virus.

“In order to manage the situation, the Ministry of Health has raised the level of readiness to deal with this virus. To date, 62 suspected cases all tested negative. Now we are waiting for the results of new cases as well,” said Vitia.

Ministry: Kosovo schools to remain open until further notice (media)

The Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Hykmete Bajrami, said at a news conference yesterday that schools throughout Kosovo will remain open as there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus infections.

Bajrami said after a meeting with municipal education directors and the head of the National Institute for Public Health that they have prepared an action plan and that level of preparedness has been stepped up.

Pristina municipality takes first preventive measures against coronavirus (Telegrafi)

The Municipality of Pristina has announced first preventive measures against the coronavirus.

The measures, coming into effect as of today, will include the temporary closure of the social centres for the elderly and disinfecting all urban traffic buses.

Mayor Shpend Ahmeti said further measures will be discussed in the coming days.

Serbian man wanted for war crimes arrested in Budapest (Koha)

Koha reports quoting the Daily News Hungary news website that the Budapest municipal court ordered the pre-extradition arrest of a Serbian national suspected of war crimes committed against civilians during the 1999 Kosovo war.

The international arrest warrant for the suspect was issued by Kosovo authorities, the court said. The court will assess conditions for the man’s extradition once it receives the full extradition request, it said.

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