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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, June 16

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• 129 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in last 24 hours (media)
• Hoti: New cases, result of carelessness after relaxation of measures (media)
• Grenell: Kosovo-Serbia dialogue discussions in Washington on June 27 (media)
• President Thaci welcomes invitation to resume the dialogue (media)
• Hoti: Continuation of dialogue, key to normalisation of relations (media)
• Thaci, Hoti to represent Kosovo at White House meeting with Serbia (RFE)
• Thaci: Time to deliver finality of peace (media)
• Vetevendosje: Thaci’s government in the same line with Serbia (media)
• Dacic: Serbia could temporarily halt derecognition campaign (media)
• Lajcak will bring to Prishtina dates for resumption of dialogue (Koha)
• Lajcak’a plane unable to land to Tirana from Zurich (media)
• Serwer: Bidening their time (Peacefare.net/Koha)
• Through peace dialogue in Balkans, Trump aims to improve credentials (WSJ)
• Putin, Vucic discuss Kosovo issue in telephone conversation (media)
• Hoxhaj: Russia, Serbia using SOC to undermine Montenegro’s independence (media)

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  • 129 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in last 24 hours (media)
  • Hoti: New cases, result of carelessness after relaxation of measures (media)
  • Grenell: Kosovo-Serbia dialogue discussions in Washington on June 27 (media)
  • President Thaci welcomes invitation to resume the dialogue (media)
  • Hoti: Continuation of dialogue, key to normalisation of relations (media)
  • Thaci, Hoti to represent Kosovo at White House meeting with Serbia (RFE)
  • Thaci: Time to deliver finality of peace (media)
  • Vetevendosje: Thaci’s government in the same line with Serbia (media)
  • Dacic: Serbia could temporarily halt derecognition campaign (media)
  • Lajcak will bring to Prishtina dates for resumption of dialogue (Koha)
  • Lajcak’a plane unable to land to Tirana from Zurich (media)
  • Serwer: Bidening their time (net/Koha)
  • Through peace dialogue in Balkans, Trump aims to improve credentials (WSJ)
  • Putin, Vucic discuss Kosovo issue in telephone conversation (media)
  • Hoxhaj: Russia, Serbia using SOC to undermine Montenegro’s independence (media)

Kosovo Media Highlights

129 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in last 24 hours (media)

All media reported on Monday evening that 129 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the last 24 hours in Kosovo.

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said in a statement that 46 new cases are in the municipality of Prishtina.

Hoti: New cases, result of carelessness after relaxation of measures (media)

Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti took to Facebook to argue that the new cases are a result of carelessness after the relaxation of measures. “It is totally in our responsibility to protect ourselves and to implement the measures of physical distance. Therefore, I call on you once again to be more careful of our sake and for the sake of our families,” Hoti said.

He also said that Kosovo risks a second wave of coronavirus infections. “Dear citizens, our country can be included by the second wave of infections with the #COVID19 virus! Based on the trend of recent days with new cases of infections, this risk is very real. Even more lives of people can be affected, the economic crisis will deepen, while the health system will be overloaded! Therefore, I ask you to keep in mind the mandatory measures for protection,” Hoti said.

Grenell: Kosovo-Serbia dialogue discussions in Washington on June 27 (media)

The U.S. Presidential Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia Dialogue, Richard Grenell, said in a post on Twitter on Monday that representatives of Kosovo and Serbia will meet at the White House in Washington on June 27 for dialogue discussions.

“Great news! I have received the commitment from the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to temporarily pause the derecognition campaign and the seeking of international memberships in order to meet in Washington, DC at the White House on June 27 for Dialogue discussions.If either side is unsatisfied with the June 27 discussions then they will go back to the status quo after they leave Washington. As we have consistently said, we must first make progress on growing the economies. This is the focus. I look forward to these discussions,” Grenell said.

President Thaci welcomes invitation to resume the dialogue (media)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci took to Twitter to welcome the invitation to resume the process of dialogue. “U.S. leadership & support has always been decisive for the prosperous future of Kosova. Therefore, I welcome the invitation to resume the dialogue on normalization of relations under the leadership of President @realDonaldTrump’s Special Envoy @RichardGrenell,” Thaci tweeted.

In a post on Facebook, Thaci said Kosovo is ready for a historic peace agreement with Serbia. “The US leadership of major political processes has always been determinant for the Republic of Kosovo and its people … Kosovo is ready to reach a historic peace agreement with Serbia, mutual recognition and diplomatic relations. It is now up to the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo to show wisdom and maturity in building unity and coordination with our strategic partners and to commit to successfully conclude this process,” Thaci said.

Hoti: Continuation of dialogue, key to normalisation of relations (media)

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said in a Twitter post that the continuation of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia is a key step for the normalisation of relations.

 “Coordinated activities with our int partners, especially with @USAGov and @RichardGrenell has yielded the first results, prompting Serbia to halt its derecognition campaign. Continuation of the dialogue is a key step for the normalization of relations and mutual recognition!” Hoti tweeted.

Thaci, Hoti to represent Kosovo at White House meeting with Serbia (RFE)

Radio Free Europe learns that President Hashim Thaci and Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti will represent Kosovo at the White House meeting on June 27 with Serbian representatives. The Serbian Government meanwhile told the news agency that the composition of the Serbian delegation has yet to be decided.

Thaci: Time to deliver finality of peace (media)

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci tweeted on Monday: “Remarks by certain pundits on the dialogue between #Kosovo and #Serbia are not helpful. There is no hidden agenda. There is no backroom dealing. There is no secret plan. I strongly urge all to join the process & help all of us – and the region, in achieving a long lasting, final settlement b/w Kosovo & Serbia. We do have a momentum though, thanks to US & allies – and time has come to deliver to our countries and the region the finality of peace.”

Vetevendosje: Thaci’s government in the same line with Serbia (media)

The Vetevendosje Movement (VV) issued a media communique after U.S. Presidential Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia Dialogue, Richard Grenell, confirmed that representatives of both countries will meet on June 27 in Washington.

The VV said “the government formed by President Thaci removed the measure of reciprocity and deprived Kosovo of state sovereignty and dignity”.

“The useless government of Hashim Thaci is now in the same line with Serbia’s efforts that Kosovo is not equal with Serbia and that Kosovo will not seek international subjectivity. This is the position with which they are going to dialogue with Serbia”.

According to Vetevendosje, “the Thaci – Vucic duo needed a government without popular legitimacy, discredited, a marionette, that follows their adventure which has started several years ago. The Vetevendosje Movement reiterates that no agreement that violates the territorial integrity of the Republic of Kosovo cannot be implemented in our country and there cannot be dialogue by an illegal and illegitimate government that is in total discrepancy with the will of the people.”

Dacic: Serbia could temporarily halt derecognition campaign (media)

Following the U.S. envoy Richard Grenell’s announcement that the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia will resume in Washington, Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that Belgrade could temporarily suspend campaign for derecognition of Kosovo if Pristina at the same time stops campaign for recognition of its independence and membership in international organisations.

“However, the problem is that we don’t trust Albanians in Pristina institutions because they always lied and acted unilaterally,” Dacic is quoted to have said.

Dacic also said that if what Grenell posted on Twitter is true, this means that he received guarantees from Pristina that it would stop the campaign for international recognitions which, he said, “was Serbia’s position presented three years ago by President Aleksandar Vucic.”

Lajcak will bring to Prishtina dates for resumption of dialogue (Koha)

The European Union Office in Kosovo confirmed to the news agency that EU Special Representative for the Kosovo – Serbia Dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, will visit Prishtina on Tuesday and bring the dates for the resumption of the EU-brokered dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Presidential Envoy for the Dialogue, Richard Grenell, confirmed today that dialogue between the two countries will resume on June 27 in Washington. The EU Office did not comment on Grenell’s statement.

“We don’t comment on the activities of others. Lajcak will visit Prishtina tomorrow to discuss the modalities and he will bring the dates for the resumption of the EU-brokered dialogue, a process that has produced real results for the people in Kosovo,” a spokeswoman for the EU Office told Koha.

Lajcak’a plane unable to land to Tirana from Zurich (media)

According to reports from Euronews Albania, the EU Special Representative for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, along with 150 passengers travelling from Zurich to Tirana have been blocked in Switzerland after Albanian authorities have not granted permission for the plane to land yesterday.

Lajcak is on his way to visit Kosovo and Serbia and was expected to stay in the region until 18 June.  This afternoon he is scheduled to meet Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani.

Serwer: Bidening their time (Peacefare.net/Koha)

Koha covers an opinion piece by Daniel Serwer, Head of the Conflict Management Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, originally published in Peacefare.net.

Ric Grenell’s today announced Belgrade/Pristina talks in Washington June 27:

Great news! I have received the commitment from the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to temporarily pause the derecognition campaign and the seeking of international memberships in order to meet in Washington, DC at the White House on June 27 for Dialogue discussions. (1/2)

If either side is unsatisfied with the June 27 discussions then they will go back to the status quo after they leave Washington. As we have consistently said, we must first make progress on growing the economies. This is the focus. I look forward to these discussions. (2/2)

If in fact Grenell sticks with mutually beneficial economic measures, I’m fine with this. But Jasmin Mujatovic put it sonorously when he tweeted:

Still, most likely scenario is just a wet-fart failure. Neither Trump nor Grenell have any kind of diplomatic credibility or acumen, it’s an elxnyr in the U.S. & Trump is in dire straits, Kosovo politics are in chaos – hard to see these characters delivering on a real deal.

By which I imagine he means a real deal on key political issues like recognition, exchange of ambassadors, and UN membership. And of course, partition, which the new Kosovo Prime Minister has ruled out of bounds but President Vucic still salivates for.

The suspension of the Serbian de-recognition campaign in exchange for Kosovo’s seeking membership in international organizations is a nothing burger with a tilt towards Belgrade. Suspension of the de-recognition campaign doesn’t mean much if Kosovo is not seeking international memberships, and both are only good to June 27 unless extended.

Notably absent is any European role. This all but guarantees failure, since both Kosovo and Serbia want European goodies for good outcomes. Grenell has terrible relations with the Europeans in general and the Germans in particular. The Americans don’t have much more than a Rose Garden ceremony in the middle of a pandemic with a failed and unpopular US president to offer.

Both Pristina and Belgrade should be wondering whether it would be better to bide their time for Biden, whose odds are looking good, including in swing states (but caveat emptor: there are no guarantees in American elections). A White House ceremony could look much better in 4.5 months.

Through peace dialogue in Balkans, Trump aims to improve credentials (WSJ)

President Donald Trump has invited the leaders of two hostile Balkan nations to the White House in a bid to mediate a solution to decades-old disputes that have fueled US military intervention in the region.

Despite double crises – nationwide protests and the spread of pandemics, Trump hopes to secure a final peace deal in a region that has been a hotbed of rivalry between superpowers, to improve his credentials in terms of policy. external, according to U.S. officials, writes The Wall Street Journal.

But the new opening of talks between Kosovo, backed by the United States and Serbia, an ally of Russia, is already fueling controversy in Europe, where diplomats fear the European Union is being overlooked.

Serbia confirmed a meeting at the White House on June 27.

Former Prime Minister Kurti had accused Grenell, who will coordinate the meeting at the White House, of orchestrating a “coup d’etat” against him, which Grenellhas denied.

Some European leaders say the potential agreement sets a dangerous precedent because they fear territorial swaps could be involved.

Kosovo’s new prime minister, Avdullah Hoti, who was sworn in on June 3, told the WSJ that his government is eager to start negotiations under US leadership.

Putin, Vucic discuss Kosovo issue in telephone conversation (media)

Most news outlets reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had a telephone conversation on Monday and discussed among other issues the question of Kosovo.

A press release issued by Vucic’s office noted that the two presidents discussed regional issues and dedicated most of the time to the question of Kosovo, especially to what is happening on the international political scene concerning this issue. Putin said Russia will support Serbia when it comes to Kosovo and that it is clear that no decision can be made without the United Nations Security Council.

Hoxhaj: Russia, Serbia using SOC to undermine Montenegro’s independence (media)

Kosovo’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs and senior member of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Enver Hoxhaj, said in a Twitter post on Monday: “The march in #Montenegro is organized by #Russia and #Serbia. They are using Serbian Orthodox Church to undermine country’s independence and legitimate government. They might use the church or others to create instability in the Balkans and against the West!”

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