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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, March 12

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• Kosovo MPs discuss relations with the U.S. (media)
• In a Facebook post, Thaci calls Kurti ‘coward’ and ‘devilish’ (media)
• Osmani: Tariff and president to be removed simultaneously (KP/Telegrafi)
• Government adopts 11 preventive measures from coronavirus (media)
• Kurti speaks after government’s preventive steps against coronavirus (media)
• NATO remains committed to mission in Kosovo (Gazeta Express)
• Kosovo Government opposes Lajcak’s appointment (media)
• State Department: Corrupt officials in Kosovo are not punished (Epoka)

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  • Kosovo MPs discuss relations with the U.S. (media)
  • In a Facebook post, Thaci calls Kurti ‘coward’ and ‘devilish’ (media)
  • Osmani: Tariff and president to be removed simultaneously (KP/Telegrafi)
  • Government adopts 11 preventive measures from coronavirus (media)
  • Kurti speaks after government’s preventive steps against coronavirus (media)
  • NATO remains committed to mission in Kosovo (Gazeta Express)
  • Kosovo Government opposes Lajcak’s appointment (media)
  • State Department: Corrupt officials in Kosovo are not punished (Epoka)

Kosovo MPs discuss relations with the U.S. (media)

Kosovo Assembly held an extraordinary session yesterday on the initiative of the opposition to discuss relations with the United States. The eight-hour session did not result in any document being endorsed while the draft resolution proposed jointly by the Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) and the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) on the government leading the dialogue with Serbia was not put to vote due to lack of quorum.

Opposition MPs accused the Kurti-led government for not heeding U.S. requests for lifting the import tariff on Serbia saying that no government of Kosovo should dare to damage relations with the U.S., Koha Ditore writes. It adds that the debate also displayed differences of positions amongst coalition partners with LVV MPs arguing that the tariffs should be replaced with reciprocity while LDK insisting on unconditional withdrawal.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti meanwhile said that the tariff will be dropped but that reciprocity should not be abandoned. “I am convinced there is a normal stance which is replacing the tariff with reciprocity and there is a sublime normal stance which is gradual replacement and during this time measures of trust for dialogue would be set out.”

He said the discussion is not taking place about the lifting of the tariff but about abandoning the principle of reciprocity which Kurti said derives from equality.

“You need to understand one thing and that is that dignity comes from the inside, not the outside,” he said further adding that the United States would not want to see a ‘servile’ Kosovo.

Kurti said he was convinced there was an agreement between Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Serbia’s Aleksandar Vucic and that what is now being tried is to break the government of Kosovo so that Thaci takes the power to speak on behalf of Kosovo.

In a Facebook post, Thaci calls Kurti ‘coward’ and ‘devilish’ (media)

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci took to Facebook to accuse Prime Minister Albin Kurti of dividing institutions of Kosovo and for “ridiculing and sabotaging Kosovo.”

“Frustrated, he continues lies and deceits. Coward and devilish, he is dividing Kosovo politics and institutions. He ridicules and sabotages the country. He has no courage to either drop the tax or impose reciprocity. He has no dignity. He is engaging in destroying historic alliances. He paranoidly speaks about a secret Kosovo-Serbia agreement,” Thaci wrote.

Thaci said that Kurti’s ‘anti-American sentiments’ began at the time when the Rambouillet Peace conference was taking place and continued with the Vienna status talks and the demarcation with Montenegro. “Now when there is another opportunity from the President Trump’s administration for mutual recognition, Kurti is again against.”

Osmani: Tariff and president to be removed simultaneously (KP/Telegrafi)

Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani said that there are no anti-Americans in the government of Kosovo and noted that Kosovo was never successful without having the U.S. at its side.

In her remarks at the Assembly session, Osmani said that the dialogue with Serbia would be based on two main principles: to protect the interests of Kosovo and protect alliance with Western countries.

“The President who should be a symbol of unity, and for whom I would really not like to talk about had he not usurped and kidnapped the dialogue process in an unconstitutional manner, today calls the prime minister of the country frustrated, liar, deceiver, devilish, divisive, saboteur etc. An institution that would have to represent the unity of the people addresses another institution in this way.”

Osmani said that the lack of faith in the president is an ‘unsurmountable’ problem in the dialogue. “If the president were to respect his constitutional role and the government were to lead the dialogue, as required by the Constitutional Court ruling, we would have every guarantee that neither the territorial integrity nor the unitarity of the country would be affected,” she said.

On the tariff on Serbia, Osmani said the measure should be removed at the same time as President Hashim Thaci is from his ‘usurped role’. “The moment he is gone, so will the threat of dangerous agreements.”

Government adopts 11 preventive measures from coronavirus (media)

All media report that the Kosovo Government adopted on Wednesday 11 preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus, including stopping classes in all educational public and private institutions until March 27. Preventive measures also include suspending air and land travel from countries with high and medium risk, the control of all travelers from epidemic zones by medical staff and with the support of the police.

Kurti speaks after government’s preventive steps against coronavirus (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti spoke to reporters after the government’s meeting where it was decided to suspend schools for a period of two weeks as a preventive measure against coronavirus infections.

Kurti said that as a precautionary measure, he will not be shaking anyone’s hand and announced that participation of Kosovo officials in several international conferences has been cancelled.

NATO remains committed to mission in Kosovo (Gazeta Express)

A NATO official told Gazeta Express on Wednesday that they remain fully committed to their mission in Kosovo – KFOR, which under a UN mandate continues to provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo.

“Security and stability in the Western Balkans is important for NATO and for peace and stability in Europe. NATO remains fully committed to our KFOR mission, which under a UN mandate continues to provide a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo,” a NATO official said.

He also said that NATO fully supports the resumption of the EU-facilitated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.

“This is critical for Belgrade and Pristina but also for regional peace and security. We count on both parties to show commitment and moderation and support any effort that leads to the normalization of the security situation and defuses tensions,” a NATO official concluded.

Kosovo Government opposes Lajcak’s appointment (media)

Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Glauk Konjufca has objected to the appointment of Miroslav Lajcak as the European Union Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia dialogue and for Bosnia and Herzegovina, several news websites report.

“We are against mixing Kosovo and Bosnia because there are reports that Miroslav Lajcak will be appointed as Borrell’s envoy and this is unacceptable for us. We have made this clear to Lajcak. We don’t want to be like Bosnia in terms of internal arrangements. Another concerning fact is that he comes from a non-recognizing country,” Konjufca said.

State Department: Corrupt officials in Kosovo are not punished (Epoka)

The U.S. Department of State published on Wednesday the 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and in the part on Kosovo it notes that public officials are sometimes involved in corruptive affairs and that they remain unpunished. It also notes that the government has failed to effectively implement the law that foresees sentences for corrupt officials.

“Many in the government, the opposition, civil society, and the media reported instances of senior officials engaging in corruption and acting with impunity. The government and justice sector sometimes took steps to prosecute and punish those officials who committed past abuses, offenses, and crimes, but many continued to occupy public sector positions. The Police Inspectorate of Kosovo (PIK) took steps to investigate abuses and prosecute those responsible. Security forces have also participated in training to increase respect for human rights,” the report notes.

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