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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 11, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, March 11, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Thaci: Statements about withdrawal of US troops, serious messages (media)
• Haradinaj calls leaders to meet: Let’s unite on important topics (media)
• Haxhiu: Kosovo will never damage relations with U.S. (media)
• KFOR commander: KSF needs permission to go to the north, police don’t (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

• “Vucic goes to Berlin to reiterate his clear position to Chancellor Merkel” (Novosti, Tanjug, B92)
• Dacic requests urgent and unconditional revocation of tariffs (N1)
• Confirmed for B92.net: Vucic canceled all SNS election rallies (media)
• Dacic: We continue work on retracting recognitions of Kosovo (Dnevnik, FoNet)
• Djukanovic: United States resolved to unblock Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (RTS)

International:

• Donald Trump Junior Urges US Troop Withdrawal from Kosovo (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovo government approves delayed 2020 budget (Reuters)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Kurti: Fighting poverty and inequality remains a priority on which we must work together
• Remarks of SRSG Zahir Tanin at UNKT Strategic Prioritisation Retreat
• Balkan Countries Tighten Security as Coronavirus Cases Surge (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovo Prosecutors Accuse Serbian Company of Wrecking Medieval Fortress (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Thaci: Statements about withdrawal of US troops, serious messages (media)
  • Haradinaj calls leaders to meet: Let’s unite on important topics (media)
  • Haxhiu: Kosovo will never damage relations with U.S. (media)
  • KFOR commander: KSF needs permission to go to the north, police don’t (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

  • “Vucic goes to Berlin to reiterate his clear position to Chancellor Merkel” (Novosti, Tanjug, B92)
  • Dacic requests urgent and unconditional revocation of tariffs (N1)
  • Confirmed for B92.net: Vucic canceled all SNS election rallies (media)
  • Dacic: We continue work on retracting recognitions of Kosovo (Dnevnik, FoNet)
  • Djukanovic: United States resolved to unblock Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (RTS)

International: 

  • Donald Trump Junior Urges US Troop Withdrawal from Kosovo (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovo government approves delayed 2020 budget (Reuters)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Kurti: Fighting poverty and inequality remains a priority on which we must work together
  • Remarks of SRSG Zahir Tanin at UNKT Strategic Prioritisation Retreat
  • Balkan Countries Tighten Security as Coronavirus Cases Surge (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovo Prosecutors Accuse Serbian Company of Wrecking Medieval Fortress (Balkan Insight)   

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Thaci: Statements about withdrawal of US troops, serious messages (media)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said statements by senior US officials about the possibility of reconsidering their military presence in Kosovo are not individual positions and should be taken seriously.

“I don’t think the positions of US officials, congressmen, senators and people close to Trump are individual positions. I think we need to be very cautious and responsible. We need to think about future generations. The US wants to see Kosovo moving forward. These are serious messages and they should be taken seriously,” Thaci said.

Haradinaj calls leaders to meet: Let’s unite on important topics (media)

Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) leader Ramush Haradinaj has called on leaders of political parties to a meeting on Thursday.

Haradinaj said Kosovo needs unity on two very important issues “move forward with the US or wait for Europe” and that the import tariff on Serbia should remain in force until Serbia recognizes Kosovo’s independence in its current borders.

“I hope the effort for unification and unity will not be rejected at this crucial time for the country,” Haradinaj said.

Haxhiu: Kosovo will never damage relations with U.S. (media)

Vetevendosje’s Albulena Haxhiu who is Kosovo’s Minister of Justice said that Kosovo will not impair relations with the U.S. while Prime Minister Albin Kurti will be the factor of cooperation.

“The tariff, which they mistakenly thought of as being a tax, was introduced precisely by the PAN government,” Haxhiu wrote in reference to the previous government led by the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), and the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA).

“The unequal dialogue in Brussels where the normalized Serbia by improving its image, was launched by no other than Hashim Thaci.”

Haxhiu said that the Kurti-led government is the only one that has presented a plan for lifting of the tax based on U.S. requests. “Instead of uniting in support of this proposal and in support of Kosovo, Thaci and PAN are continuing the same policy, by admitting that Kosovo is worth less than Serbia.” 

KFOR commander: KSF needs permission to go to the north, police don’t (Koha)

KFOR Commander Michele Risi said that the Kosovo Police does not need prior consent from KFOR to operate in the northern part of Kosovo but that the Kosovo Security Force does.

Risi told FoNet news agency that the Kosovo Police has been present in the north for many years now.

“The level of trust between KFOR and the ministries of interior and of justice in Kosovo, as well as other institutions, enables us to know beforehand when they plan on undertaking operations that could cause ethnic or international incidents,” Risi said.

“Deployment of KSF is another matter. It cannot go to the north of Kosovo without my approval.” 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

“Vucic goes to Berlin to reiterate his clear position to Chancellor Merkel” (Novosti, Tanjug, B92)

Serbian President Alexander Vucic goes to Berlin on Sunday to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Vucic will reiterate his position at the upcoming meeting that there will be no dialogue with Kosovo until Pristina completely abolishes tariffs on goods from central Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti reports.

According to the daily, Vucic will also emphasize that “it would not be disputable for Belgrade to suspend the ‘derecognition’ of Kosovo independence if, at the same time, Kosovo authorities introduce a moratorium on the requirements for the so-called ‘Kosovo’ to be admitted to the international organizations”.

President Vucic arrives in Berlin on Sunday, but, according to “Novosti”, it is not yet known when he will meet Merkel during the two-day visit.

“As agreed last months, Vucic will meet with Merkel under the circumstances where it is obvious that the Prime Minister in Pristina, Albin Kurti, has a reliable stronghold for his tariffs maintenance policy in Berlin, as well as in Paris,” the daily noted.

While, on the other hand, (Kurti) has come under attack from the US administration, which demands a complete and unconditional abolition of tariffs and which, according to the Pristina media, has taken the first economic ‘punitive’ steps towards the government in Pristina, the newspaper said.

See at: https://bit.ly/33952jM

Dacic requests urgent and unconditional revocation of tariffs (N1)

Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic appealed on Tuesday for immediate and unconditional revocation of the tariffs imposed by Pristina on Serbian goods, adding that unilateral acts disable establishing and advancing regional cooperation, N1 reports.

Dacic told the Berlin Process meeting in the North Macedonia capital Skopje that the tariffs are an obstacle to the regional cooperation. He underlined that Serbia is committed to regional cooperation but with strict respect for agreements reached by everyone in the region as a clear condition for success.

“That is why I once again strongly appeal for the urgent and unconditional revocation of the unilaterally imposed tariffs which are an existential danger to a large number of people,” Dacic noted. 

He also said that official Belgrade did not reciprocate Pristina’s measure because it opposes unilateral steps that inflict damage to efforts to find a compromise. 

Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader and former prime minister Isa Mustafa also said that tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina should be revoked, because of what he called a very delicate and critical stage in Pristina’s relations with Washington. Writing on his Facebook profile, Mustafa said that the tariffs must be revoked, and that reciprocity has to be agreed with the US and European Union, depending on Serbia’s action.

Another LDK official (and former foreign affairs minister) Skender Hiseni wrote on his Facebook profile that he met with US special envoy Ambassador Richard Grenell as Mustafa’s emissary and was told that Washington can’t protect Kosovo from the irresponsible behaviour of its government and leaders, N1 reports.

Confirmed for B92.net: Vucic canceled all SNS election rallies (media)

Due to the appearance of the first coronavirus patients in Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic decided to postpone all SNS election activities until April 1st. The news was confirmed to B92 from the top of the SNS. 

A campaign is underway in Serbia for parliamentary, local and provincial elections, scheduled for April 26.

Furthermore, according to the Ministry of Health, up till now, 12 people that were tested, out of 100 of them, are positive for coronavirus, which is why today Serbian state leadership met with the representatives of all health services engaged in suppression of the spread of the virus.

Yesterday, Serbian Government decided to temporarily ban people from the coronavirus hotspot countries from entering Serbia.

See at: https://bit.ly/3cQVbn9

Dacic: We continue work on retracting recognitions of Kosovo (Dnevnik, FoNet)

Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic said today that Serbia will continue its work on retracting recognitions of Kosovo until an agreement or compromise are reached, FoNet news agency reports.

Dacic told TV Happy that Belgrade could accept a moratorium or some provisional time, during which neither Serbia would work on retracting recognitions, nor Kosovo would submit candidacy to join the international organizations.

He also said the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic would travel to Berlin on Sunday and meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel there. She would meet Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti two days later.

Commenting on the announcements that Kosovo would sue Serbia for genocide, Dacic said that Kosovo is not a state and it is impossible for it to address the International Court of Justice.

Djukanovic: United States resolved to unblock Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (RTS)

Centre for Foreign Policy Director Dragan Djukanovic told RTS today that many more diplomatic efforts would be made on Pristina until tariffs on goods from central Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are suspended.

Talking for RTS morning news edition Djukanovic noted that possible withdrawal of US troops from Kosovo shows that the US is resolved to unblock the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue process and for the tariffs to be abolished as soon as possible.

“I do not see the political will, above all of the incumbent prime minister Kurti, to do so. I think that a lot of diplomatic efforts on Pristina will be made until tariffs are suspended”, Djukanovic said.

Commenting on the EU stance vis-à-vis Kosovo, he pointed out there was no progress with visa liberalization, and that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci himself was not satisfied with the meeting with envoys of French President and the German Chancellor.

“I am afraid that there is no synchronization of activities between the EU and the US, which can prolong the entire process”, Djukanovic said, adding that “obviously there is support reflected from the EU to the Kosovo government”.

Commenting on the blockade of the US funds to Kosovo, Djukanovic opined that the attempt to discipline Pristina was more symbolic than essential.

Speaking about the upcoming meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Djukanovic said that several things could be expected.

“To finally have the clarification of Germany’s stance on the continuation of the dialogue and to see in what direction Germany sees the dialogue moving. It will be a dominant theme, but also a continuation of economic cooperation”, he noted.

 

 

 International 

 

Donald Trump Junior Urges US Troop Withdrawal from Kosovo (Balkan Insight)

President Donald Trump’s son said he supported calls for US troops to be withdrawn from Kosovo, adding to pressure on the Pristina authorities to agree to Washington’s demand for tariffs on Serbian imports to be lifted.

Donald Trump Jr wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that he agrees with a suggestion by Republican senator David Perdue that the US should “reconsider its presence” in Kosovo if Pristina does not agree to fully revoke its 100 per cent tariffs on imports from Serbia.

“There are 650 US troops in Kosovo. Time to get them home,” said Trump Jr, who holds no official position in the US administration but is executive vice-president of his father’s Trump Organisation.

See at: https://bit.ly/2vckY8B

Kosovo government approves delayed 2020 budget (Reuters)

Kosovo’s government approved the 2020 budget on Tuesday after the small Balkan country held a snap election in October and elected the government after months of negotiations.

The budget for this year will be 2.35 billion euros ($2.67 billion), 12.7 percent higher than last year.

See at: https://tmsnrt.rs/2IzNiF1

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Kurti: Fighting poverty and inequality remains a priority on which we must work together

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti spoke at a strategic retreat organised by the United Nations Kosovo Team (UNKT) on the topic of UN Sustainable Development Goals for this decade.

Kurti said in his word that priorities of the Kosovo government are aligned with strategic priorities of the United Nations.

He noted that the government programme includes two major priorities which reflect the ambitions of the citizens for a better life.

“These two priorities are Labour and Justice. Labour because Kosovo is a poor country and justice because Kosovo is a robbed country. “Unemployment and corruption are the two issues that most concern citizens, and this is why they have voted for a government that wants to get them out of the crisis through investment-focused economic development and through fighting corruption by independence of the justice system.”

“We have already started work on both,” he declared.

He said that the 5Ps of the Sustainable Development Goals are the Planet, Peace, Prosperity, Partnership and People who know and place the citizen at the center. “Because it is the citizen who makes the change but also for whom we must make the change.”

Kurti underlined that unemployment level in Kosovo is at 30% while 80% of women are out of the labor market and of those 20% active in the market, almost half are unemployed. “Of those employed, 25% have long-term contracts and the rest have temporary contracts living in uncertainty and stress, but also without access to finance, with 18% living in extreme poverty.”

“Fighting poverty and inequality remains a priority on which we must work together,” Kurti said.

He said that the UNKT cooperation framework represents a good coordination opportunity to accelerate progress on socio-economic and environmental issues: “In all of these initiatives we will work closely with your programme.”

Although we cannot report on the achievements to the United Nations, we can report these achievements to our citizens for whom we work for and serve,” he stressed.

Remarks of SRSG Zahir Tanin at UNKT Strategic Prioritisation Retreat

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Zahir Tanin spoke today at the United Nations Kosovo Team strategic prioritisation retreat on the topic of UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) for the 2021-2025 period.

SRSG Tanin said that for the United Nations, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of its foundation.

“The United Nations was established 75 years ago, after the end of the Second World War, the most devastating and disastrous page in human history.  Nothing is more essential for a better and reliable future than peace, and exactly for this reason we should celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations as a critical moment in a threatening and difficult time. This is also is an opportunity to look to the past and think about the future. To mark that occasion, the Secretary-General has launched a global conversation about how all of us, TOGETHER, can build the future we hope for and how we can bring about the change we expect.”

“Here in Kosovo, clearly reflected in last year’s election results, the hope of the people – for change and for new beginnings – lies firmly with their government.”

Congratulating Kurti on his premiership and wishing him success in implementation of the government’s reform agenda, particularly in the areas of rule of law and economic development, Tanin underlined: “The success of these efforts will require political will and commitment as well as the support of the international community. The United Nations stands ready to support you in all appropriate ways.”

“For the United Nations in Kosovo 2020 is the year to define its priorities for the coming five years.”

“Nearly two years ago, the United Nations convened the Kosovo Trust-Building Forum in Ljubljana. 120 community representatives developed 135 recommendations, which we call ‘the trust-building agenda.’ So far, nearly 300 initiatives have been launched based on those recommendations, by Kosovo civil society, by central and local-level institutions, media professionals and all relevant parts of the society, supported by the UN family and also other international partners,” SRSG Tanin said further.

He said that building trust is a critical step towards lasting reconciliation and also lays the foundations of an enduring peace and a sustained, inclusive and stable society in Kosovo. “Going forward, we are determined to continue supporting the people of Kosovo, the institutions and civil society in these endeavours.”

Balkan Countries Tighten Security as Coronavirus Cases Surge (Balkan Insight)

With the number of new coronavirus cases rising, countries in the region are restricting public gatherings, imposing travel bans to and from outbreak hotspots and closing schools.

As the number of new coronavirus cases in the Balkan region continues to grow, many governments have introduced tough measures aimed at preventing their spread.

See at: https://bit.ly/3aJXF56

Kosovo Prosecutors Accuse Serbian Company of Wrecking Medieval Fortress (Balkan Insight)

An indictment claims the Serbia-based Koto company damaged the medieval Novo Brdo fortress during botched restoration work conducted last year.

Kosovo prosecutors have indicted a Serbian company for damaging one of the country’s most famous monuments in what it calls faulty restoration work.

The indictment obtained by BIRN charges the Belgrade-based Koto company with using excavators that were not appropriate to restore the walls of the medieval fortress of Novo Brdo between July and September 2019.

It says the botched restoration work created “deep cracks in the outside walls which have endangered its stability and sustainability”.

See at: https://bit.ly/39F1YP6

 

 

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