- Only one new confirmed case of coronavirus in last 24 hours (media)
- Kosovo President Hashim Thaci’s interview to TV Dukagjini
- Borrell: No way around EU-facilitated dialogue (media)
- Palmer: U.S. does not take sides in Kosovo (media)
- Stano: Kosovo-Serbia agreement to be acceptable for the region (Telegrafi)
- Kurti speaks on the phone to Slovenian PM, Jansa (media)
- Abazi: Thaci’s statement, pure lie (Klan Kosova)
- Haxhiu: We will file charges against Thaci tomorrow (media)
- Konjufca to meet Austrian Minister for Europe at Pristina Airport (media)
- Swiss embassy believes authorities will continue to respect Constitution (media)
- Nagavci: Protest, result of people’s pressure (media)
- Quni: KSF has no limitations to go the north (media)
- Op-ed: There is only one Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (Prishtina Insight)
- Osmani: Participation of women in politics achieves sustainable development (Koha)
Kosovo Media Highlights
Only one new confirmed case of coronavirus in last 24 hours (media)
Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health confirmed one new case of coronavirus on Wednesday evening, all media report.
The new case is from the municipality of Vushtrri. The Institute in its statement called on Kosovo citizens to continue to respect the preventive measures.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci’s interview to TV Dukagjini
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said in an interview to Dukagjini TV on Wednesday evening that “Kosovo never had a weaker and less prepared Prime Minister than Albin Kurti”. “A Prime Minister that did not submit a single law to the Assembly, what do you expect from him? What has he done for small businesses or for international investors? He sent away the company that wanted to invest in the construction of the new power plant. His minister claims they have reduced the unemployment rate during the pandemic. This is ridiculous,” Thaci said.
“Kurti and his group will have to answer for illegal activities. Tens of millions of euros have been embezzled by Minister Vitia … the planned attack on Mr. Pacolli and his airplane, all these are activities of an organised and criminal structure. You should be happy that I am talking about this and not keeping silent. It would be irresponsible of me to keep silent. It is my obligation to safeguard the democratic institutions,” Thaci said.
Thaci further claimed that acting Prime Minister Kurti, Interior Minister Svecla and Kurti’s advisor Haki Abazi went to the surveillance room of the Kosovo Post and Telecom, turned off the cameras and stayed there for three days. “This is a penal act and they have to face justice for this,” he added. “Why did this group go to the surveillance room? What is a Prime Minister doing in the surveillance room?”
Thaci claimed that acting Prime Minister Kurti is using state institutions “for his own ideological revolution”. “How can a Prime Minister organise protests against institutions during a pandemic,” he asked.
Thaci said he will respect the upcoming decision of the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of his decree nominating the LDK’s candidate for Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti, to form a new government. Thaci said that he would even submit his resignation if the court asks this of him. “Even if they ask me to resign, it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” he said. Thaci also said that all parties must pledge to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court.
Borrell: No way around EU-facilitated dialogue (media)
EU High Representative Josep Borrell took to Twitter on Wednesday to react after recent remarks by Kosovo President Hashim Thaci who said that he would not take part in negotiations led by EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak.
Borrell tweeted: “The future of the #WesternBalkans, including both Kosovo and Serbia, is European. As EU we are committed to accompany them on every step of their path. But to make the European future a reality for their people, there is no way around the EU-facilitated Dialogue.”
Palmer: U.S. does not take sides in Kosovo (media)
The U.S. Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, said on Wednesday that he hopes Kosovo and Serbia will resume talks for the normalisation of relations, several news outlets report. Palmer said the normalisation of relations is crucial to pave the European paths of both countries but that a lot of work remains to be done.
“Kosovo needs a government. We are waiting for the decision of the Constitutional Court that would make way for the resolution of issues related to the formation of the government. I want to outline that the United States do not want to influence the process in any way; we don’t want to elect the new government of Kosovo, we don’t have a favorite, we don’t take sides. What we want to see is a process that is based on the Constitution of Kosovo and the legal framework, that results in a government that is representative and that has the power to engage in the process of talks,” Palmer said.
Palmer did not want to say if there are any timelines or if this is related to the upcoming presidential elections saying “we are trying to help the parties to come to an agreement”. “What we want to see is not only the suspension of tariffs but also the suspension of reciprocity measures. I hope we will see progress on these matters,” he added.
Commenting on the situation with the coronavirus pandemic, Palmer said he appreciates the spirit of cooperation and the fact that “Serbia and Kosovo set aside political differences and worked together to provide cross-border aid and facilitated the movement of medical staff and humanitarian aid and supplies, including food”.
Palmer said there are still challenges and tensions in the Western Balkans. “The United States remain committed to work in partnership with the countries of the region and our European partners and allies to support the development of the Western Balkans and its integration in the family of European nations”.
Stano: Kosovo-Serbia agreement to be acceptable for the region (Telegrafi)
Peter Stano, spokesperson for the EU High Representative Josep Borrell, told RTV Dukagjini that the continuation of the status-quo situation with regards to the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue is unsustainable and added that the process should resume as soon as possible, “once the situation with the pandemic is normalised.”
“Agreement between the parties should be in accordance to the EU legislation, EU values and in line with international law. To be sustainable the agreement also needs to be acceptable for the region and EU member states,” Stano added.
Kurti speaks on the phone to Slovenian PM, Jansa (media)
Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti had a telephone conversation with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and spoke about the management of the Covid-19 pandemic and economy recovery measures. The two also discussed dialogue with Serbia.
“With PM of Slovenia @JJansaSDS we discussed #COVID19 situation & re-opening of the economy. With regard to dialogue, Slovenia is clear that borders & territorial integrity of states should not be discussed,” Kurti wrote on Twitter.
Abazi: Thaci’s statement, pure lie (Klan Kosova)
Acting Deputy Prime Minister Haki Abazi has reacted to President Hashim Thaci’s allegations that Abazi, along with acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla went to the surveillance room of the Kosovo Post and Telecom, turned off the cameras and stayed there for three days.
Abazi categorically denied the allegations saying that the “manipulation of the public era and creation of confusion for the citizens has to end once and for all.”
“His statement is pure lie. There has been no interference in the National Security Centre,” Abazi said.
Haxhiu: We will file charges against Thaci tomorrow (media)
Kosovo’s acting Minister of Justice and senior Vetevendosje member, Albulena Haxhiu, said in a Facebook post that she will face charges against President Hashim Haxhiu for his claims that Haxhiu’s relatives ran a drug lab.
“Thaci has lost his sense! A slanderous President that will answer for his accusations. He said that Albulena Haxhiu’s relatives have a drug lab! We will file charges tomorrow against this unscrupulous slanderer. The prosecution meanwhile must not remain silent toward his statements! They should call him to testify,” Haxhiu wrote yesterday.
Konjufca to meet Austrian Minister for Europe at Pristina Airport (media)
Kosovo’s acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Glauk Konjufca will meet at Pristina International Airport with an Austrian delegation led by Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Alexander Schallenberg.
Swiss embassy believes authorities will continue to respect Constitution (media)
The Swiss Embassy in Kosovo issued a statement on Wednesday saying it believes the Kosovo authorities will continue to respect the upcoming decision of the Constitutional Court for the sake of peace and democracy in the country.
The statement notes: “Last October, the citizens of Kosovo en masse voted for changes and trusted their representatives not only to implement key reforms but also to encourage greater accountability and to lead by example. Since then, the government has demonstrated their commitment to advance the rule of law and to protect the interests and security of the people … Switzerland believes the authorities will continue to respect the Constitution, the laws and regulations for the sake of peace, democracy and public order in Kosovo”.
Nagavci: Protest, result of people’s pressure (media)
Kosovo Assembly Vice President and senior Vetevendosje member, Arberie Nagavci, said in a debate on Wednesday evening that the protest which will be held on Thursday is a result of pressure from the people that want to safeguard the democratic order.
“There is great concern among the people because they want to safeguard the change that happened on October 6 [general elections],” she said.
Nagavci also said around 3,500-5,000 citizens are expected to take part in the protest. “We have set up the points and the protesters will respect the distance and the conditions of the pandemic,” she added.
Quni: KSF has no limitations to go the north (media)
Kosovo’s acting Minister of Defense, Anton Quni, said in an interview to Front Online on Wednesday, that the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) has no limitations to go to the northern part of Kosovo.
“We have no limitations. In cooperation with NATO authorities and KFOR, we have said that we can carry out activities in any part of Kosovo whenever the communities need our services. But we can under no circumstance demonstrate force or cause any incidents which could then be used for different political issues,” Quni was quoted as saying.
Op-ed: There is only one Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (Prishtina Insight)
President Thaci cannot choose who mediates the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, and anti-EU rhetoric will only damage Kosovo in the long run, writes Visar Xhambazi, policy researcher with the Kosovo-based Democracy for Development think tank.
“In an unprecedented move, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci stated on Tuesday that he “had no will to participate” in negotiations led by Miroslav Lajcak, the EU’s Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue and other Western Balkans issues who was appointed on 3 April this year.
Thaci has been consistently pushing for a US-led dialogue throughout 2020, and US re-engagement in the process – as well as its public discord with the EU – has pushed many to believe that there are potentially two separate dialogues: one initiated by the EU, and a second theoretical dialogue led by the US.
The notion that the dialogue had been cleft into two separate processes was reinforced earlier this year after the unveiling of what were described as a series of ‘transport agreements’ between Kosovo and Serbia signed under US mediation. However, these so-called agreements were subsequently revealed to be little more than ‘letters of interest.’
While US assistance in the dialogue is welcome, there is only one official Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, the one that has been facilitated by the EU in Brussels over the course of the last decade.
The EU was selected as mediator as the future of both states was seen to lie within the Union following a normalisation of relations. In this context, the president’s recent statement dismissing the EU’s representative is both undiplomatic and immature.
Thaci has been the main protagonist of the dialogue since the Brussels negotiations were launched in 2011. When the dialogue first began, Thaci optimistically described the beginning of negotiations as a “new chapter for Kosovo.”
He participated in the negotiations as a prime minister and later as a foreign minister, until he took office as president in April 2016. Regardless of his official position, Thaci and his counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, have been the co-stars of the dialogue.
However, according to the Kosovo Constitutional Court decision of June 2019, the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue is to be led by the prime minister and overseen by the Kosovo Assembly, the Court noting that “powers to reach an international agreement cannot be transferred.” As such, Thaci does not have the competence to conclude negotiations in Brussels as president.
His unprecedented comments regarding Lajcak could be seen as an attempt to hijack negotiations and take advantage of the current fragility of the EU-US transatlantic alliance by discrediting the EU. He is sending signals that he wants to continue to be the shining star, and sending a warning to anyone messing with the status quo.
However, discrediting the EU could have far reaching consequences. The EU is by far the biggest financial contributor in Kosovo and has been helping Kosovo consistently to improve the quality of its institutions on almost all fronts.
As recently as March, the EU provided a donation of around €70 million to Kosovo to deal with the consequences of COVID-19, compared to the $500,000 donated by the US.
With this in mind, a deterioration of Kosovo-EU relations may be disastrous for Kosovo, which depends on help and assistance from its European allies. While it is true that the EU has not been able to forge a final deal between Kosovo and Serbia, Kosovo still aims to join the EU in the foreseeable future.
Thaci’s main argument against EU involvement in the dialogue is the identity of those currently representing the Union in foreign affairs, but the president is in no position to pick which EU diplomat he wants to meet or engage in negotiations with. Despite being Slovak, Lajcak represents the position of all EU member states, and not only his country of origin, as reiterated by German Ambassador to Kosovo, Christian Heldt.
“Mr Lajcak does not represent Slovakia, but the EU with its 27 member states, 450 million inhabitants, and the biggest economic zone of the world,” Heldt told BIRN. “As Ambassador of a member state proudly belonging to this family, I can say Mr Lajcak enjoys the full trust of my government for his new task, where he will also be representing Germany as a member state.”
Thaci is directly damaging Kosovo’s position in international affairs by picking sides between Kosovo’s allies. Kosovo needs all the help it can get and refusing to meet with Lajcak only serves the interest of his own personal agenda, rather than the interests of the country.
The president has a history of bombastic and highly controversial statements giving the negotiations a sense of emergency. Last year, he stated that Kosovo must use the current momentum to finalise negotiations, otherwise Kosovo will become like Northern Cyprus or Palestine.
The president’s preoccupation with political opportunism has made him forget his key constitutional obligation: to represent the unity of the people. Instead of having a president that defends the legitimacy of the country, Kosovo has one that publicly questions it and compares its statehood to that of highly contested territories.
Thaci’s political statements have crossed a line. He must not misuse his position occupying one of the country’s highest public offices for his own personal political maneuvers. The consequences could cause Kosovo irrevocable damage.”
Osmani: Participation of women in politics achieves sustainable development (Koha)
In an interview with UN Women Europe and Central Asia, Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani said that participation of women in senior political functions contributes to a more balanced and forward-looking policies.
“It is only through such a policymaking approach that we stand a chance in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and in making this a genuine #DecadeOfAction and a #GenerationEquality,” she said.
“Women leaders around the world have demonstrated successful management of the pandemic. They have been able to unify the public and to engage people on the importance of changing their everyday behaviours to help contain the virus’ spread and to flatten the curve. Although the burden of the pandemic falls heavily on everyone, there are several aspects that require a specific gender-centred approach, such as securing safe childbirth and controlling maternal mortality; the impact of school closure on women as primary caretakers; and its connection to workplace activities. In my capacity as assembly president, I am advocating for a continuous gender-sensitive approach so that women are given a sustained and long term equal treatment,” Osmani noted.
See the full interview: https://bit.ly/2X6tUaB