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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 17, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Hoti invites entity leaders to coordinate prior to visit to Washington (Express)
• Lajcak: Kosovo to speak with one voice about the dialogue (media)
• AAK to Lajcak: We hail EU’s engagement for dialogue led by the U.S. (Express)
• Hoti: Intention of dialogue is recognition, territory cannot be discussed (media)
• Swiss Ambassador: U.S. inclusion in dialogue, welcomed (media)
• LVV rejects Hoti’s invitation for a meeting (media)
• CDHRF: Opposition should take on responsibility for dialogue (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

• EU’s Lajčák: Details about meetings in Pristina on Thursday (N1)
• Vucic about Hoti’s platform for dialogue: Then do not come to negotiations (KoSSev)
• American surprise and “Kosovo battle” on the eve of Vidovdan (B92, Sputnik)
• Milivojevic: We have maneuvering space, our arguments grew stronger (RTS)
• The first case of coronavirus in Serbian areas South of the Ibar (RTV Puls)
• Dacic: Moscow will support every solution in Belgrade’s interest (Beta, N1)
• European Parliament rapporteurs welcome Lajcak visit to Kosovo (N1)
• The ”Smuggling” case trial begins; Prosecution witnesses also plead not guilty (KoSSev)
• White House ready to host Belgrade – Pristina meeting (N1, VOA)
• Brnabic: If they wanted to find out who killed Ivanovic, they would have found out by now (KoSSev)
• RIK President: Information is expected for elections in Kosovo and Metohija (KoSSev)

Opinion:

• The signing ceremony is on (Prishtina Insight)
• US and EU Policy on Kosovo is in Disarray (Balkan Insight)

International:

• Borrell nominates three new Heads of EU Delegations to the Western Balkans (EWB)
• EU, US display differences over Serbia-Kosovo negotiation (AP)
• Balkan nations must not be faced with choice between West and Russia, says Lavrov (TASS)
• Serbia, Kosovo Prepare for Restart of Talks in Washington (Balkan Insight)
• Parliament extends and beefs up Swiss peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (swissinfo.ch)
• Trade barriers and wary eye on Serbia hold back Balkan economies (Financial Times)
• Trump envoy brokers White House meeting for Kosovo and Serbia presidents (The Guardian)
• Red Flag: Ahead Of Serbian Vote, Vucic And Allies Lean On China Ties (RFE)

Humanitarian/Development:

• 16 Fathers and Sons Massacred, One Kosovo Family Torn Apart (Balkan Insight)
• OSCE Mission published report on property rights claims resolution in post-conflict Kosovo (media)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Hoti invites entity leaders to coordinate prior to visit to Washington (Express)
  • Lajcak: Kosovo to speak with one voice about the dialogue (media)
  • AAK to Lajcak: We hail EU’s engagement for dialogue led by the U.S. (Express) 
  • Hoti: Intention of dialogue is recognition, territory cannot be discussed (media)
  • Swiss Ambassador: U.S. inclusion in dialogue, welcomed (media)
  • LVV rejects Hoti’s invitation for a meeting (media)
  • CDHRF: Opposition should take on responsibility for dialogue (RTK)

Serbian Language Media:

  • EU’s Lajčák: Details about meetings in Pristina on Thursday (N1)
  • Vucic about Hoti’s platform for dialogue: Then do not come to negotiations (KoSSev)
  • American surprise and “Kosovo battle” on the eve of Vidovdan (B92, Sputnik)
  • Milivojevic: We have maneuvering space, our arguments grew stronger (RTS)
  • The first case of coronavirus in Serbian areas South of the Ibar (RTV Puls)
  • Dacic: Moscow will support every solution in Belgrade’s interest (Beta, N1)
  • European Parliament rapporteurs welcome Lajcak visit to Kosovo (N1)
  • The ”Smuggling” case trial begins; Prosecution witnesses also plead not guilty (KoSSev)
  • White House ready to host Belgrade – Pristina meeting (N1, VOA)
  • Brnabic: If they wanted to find out who killed Ivanovic, they would have found out by now (KoSSev)
  • RIK President: Information is expected for elections in Kosovo and Metohija (KoSSev)

Opinion:

  • The signing ceremony is on (Prishtina Insight)
  • US and EU Policy on Kosovo is in Disarray (Balkan Insight)

International:

  • Borrell nominates three new Heads of EU Delegations to the Western Balkans (EWB)
  • EU, US display differences over Serbia-Kosovo negotiation (AP)
  • Balkan nations must not be faced with choice between West and Russia, says Lavrov (TASS)
  • Serbia, Kosovo Prepare for Restart of Talks in Washington (Balkan Insight)
  • Parliament extends and beefs up Swiss peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (swissinfo.ch)
  • Trade barriers and wary eye on Serbia hold back Balkan economies (Financial Times)
  • Trump envoy brokers White House meeting for Kosovo and Serbia presidents (The Guardian)
  • Red Flag: Ahead Of Serbian Vote, Vucic And Allies Lean On China Ties (RFE)

Humanitarian/Development: 

  • 16 Fathers and Sons Massacred, One Kosovo Family Torn Apart (Balkan Insight)
  • OSCE Mission published report on property rights claims resolution in post-conflict Kosovo (media)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Hoti invites entity leaders to coordinate prior to his visit  to Washington (Express)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti took to Facebook to inform that he has invited the leaders of the political parties for a joint meeting tomorrow, prior to the meeting in Washington.

“In order to coordinate the positions of the country’s political spectrum, in the process of dialogue with Serbia, as well as on the eve of the visit to Washington, I invited party leaders to a joint meeting of the Forum of Leaders, which will be held tomorrow at 11:00 hours in the Office of the Prime Minister,” Hoti wrote.

Lajcak: Kosovo to speak with one voice about the dialogue (media)

On his second day of the visit to Kosovo, the EU Representative for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Miroslav Lajcak, continued with the meetings with the political leaders.

He initially met with the leader of the Vetevendosje Movement Albin Kurti.

“Kicked off day 2️ in Kosovo with a very good and insightful discussion with leader of Vetëvendosje @albinkurti. I stressed the need for Kosovo to speak with one voice in the EU-facilitated Dialogue. Any agreement must be acceptable to its people,” Lajcak wrote on his Twitter account.  

LVV MP Fitore Pacolli who participated at the meeting said that Lajcak stressed there is no agreement with Serbia without participation of the Vetevendosje Movement and Albin Kurti. She said Lajcak’s team agreed to increase contacts with LVV.

According to Pacolli, LVV demanded holding of the elections as according to her, the current government is not credible. 

After Kurti, Lajcak met with the leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) Isa Mustafa. 

A press release issued by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) said that the leader of this political party Isa Mustafa informed Lajcak about LDK’s position on the dialogue process, and that LDK is interested in an agreement that would conclude with mutual recognition.

Lajcak on the other hand reportedly said that he considers that LDK’s constructive role in the dialogue process is very important. 

Lajcak is expected to meet later on today the leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj and the leader of the Social-Democratic Initiative (NISMA) Fatmir Limaj.

AAK to Lajcak: We hail EU’s engagement for dialogue led by the U.S. (Express) 

The EU’s Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Miroslav Lajcak, visited the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), where he met with Kosovo’s Principal Deputy PM Besnik Tahiri, Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj and Minister of Justice, Selim Selimi. 

Selimi took to Facebook to write that ‘In the meeting with the EU Special Envoy, Miroslav Lajcak, we presented AAK’s commitment to the dialogue process and its unwavering commitment to reaching a legally binding comprehensive agreement, which should result in mutual recognition within the existing borders. The active role of the United States in the dialogue, for which leader Haradinaj has been vocal and persistent, has raised hopes that the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, which has lasted for a decade, will be finalized with mutual recognition within existing borders. Due to various positions within the EU regarding the exchange of territories, there has been a shaking of confidence. However, the Alliance hails the EU’s commitment to dialogue, under the U.S. leadership. During the meeting, we reiterated that the EU, first of all, after meeting all the criteria, should give Kosovo a quick decision on lifting the visa regime.’

Hoti: Intention of dialogue is recognition by Serbia, territory cannot be discussed (media)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti participated at the ‘What is the Kosovo government’s platform in the dialogue with Serbia’ roundtable organized by the Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI). He spoke about the objectives in the dialogue and listed some points where Kosovo would not give in. 

He said the main objective of the dialogue is recognition by Serbia and after that, Kosovo’s integration in Euro-Atlantic structures. 

“What we have done together with the cabinet is that we have structured the approach of the government of Kosovo and we have formalized the manner this process will take place. Our approach is to ensure complete transparency during this process which is the most vital after declaration of the independence of Kosovo, consolidation of Kosovo’s statehood,” he said. 

Hoti said that while from 2011 the dialogue was held to normalize relations with Serbia, from now on, it will be held to reach mutual recognition. 

“The various conspiracies for dialogue with maps and exchanges of territories are untrue to me and therefore not part of the discussions. We sat at the cabinet together with the coalition partners and you will not hear anything new from our platform. We have set our principles and I have a mandate to negotiate on the basis of the Constitution which gives me clear authority to lead this process. Also, the Constitutional Court’s ruling clearly speaks about my powers, which I neither want nor can transfer to anyone else. There is no need to even say this, because there is no need to worry. 

There are three points that I do not have the mandate to discuss: territorial integrity, unitary character and, the agreement has to be in compatibility with the Constitution of Kosovo,” Hoti said. 

“Our objectives are certainly mutual recognition – with all the international partners I speak to, everyone confirms that Kosovo must sit at the table for mutual recognition – so our objectives are: reciprocal recognition, recognition by the five non-EU countries that have not recognized Kosovo yet, UN membership and the abrogation of Resolution 1244. These must be achieved as soon as the agreement is signed. The agreement must open a way for Kosovo to move towards a standard Euro-Atlantic integration process.”

“The agreement that is being formulated is a comprehensive agreement for addressing also all open issues such as missing persons, pensions, cadastral zones, artifacts and many issues that the Government is prepared for,” Hoti said.

Swiss Ambassador: U.S. inclusion in dialogue, welcomed (media)

Ambassador of Switzerland to Kosovo Jean-Hubert Lebet, said today at the ‘What is the platform Kosovo’s government in the dialogue with Serbia’ roundtable organized by the Kosovo Democratic Institute (KDI), that his country supports the dialogue with Serbia mediated by the European Union. According to him, involvement of other actors, alluding to the United States of America, is welcomed. He however stressed that the dialogue is a European matter and it belongs to the European countries to resolve it. According to him, Kosovo and Serbia should show more readiness on resumption of the dialogue.

“Normalisation of the relations between Kosovo and Serbia is a European matter, therefore we support the dialogue mediated by the EU, as mandated by the United Nations. By working with the EU, Kosovo can impact the dialogue process by participating in the creation of the scheme and sustainability. The results of the previous dialogue under the EU leadership are quite mixed. From mid 2019 the dialogue has been even more discrete. The EU is now functional and Mr. Lajcak came yesterday and we have now started discussions with him, but Kosovo’s and Serbia’s sincere will to normalize the relations is more important. We hope that Kosovo and Serbia resume the dialogue based on this, thus normalizing the relations, ” Ambassador Lebet said.

LVV rejects Hoti’s invitation for a meeting (media)

Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) has rejected the invitation of the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti, aimed at coordinating positions of the political spectrum in Kosovo ahead of his visit to Washington.

LVV deputy leader Arberie Nagavci said that prior to this invitation, Hoti should have reported to the Assembly of Kosovo to  present the platform for the dialogue.

“The Prime Minister of this illegitimate government is obliged to initially report and present the platform to the Assembly of Kosovo, prior to addressing the others, which he did not do and so far, he has not submitted a request. Furthermore, seeing his eagerness to lift reciprocity, to state that we accept withdrawal of application at international organisations, shows that Kosovo’s interest is not a priority to them, and they are losing its sovereignty and affecting statehood. We certainly cannot be part of such roundtables, which only aim at legitimizing the plans designed by President Thaci,” Nagavci said.

According to her, Hoti should also explain to the MPs statements of the U.S. Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, and which were supported by him.

“This means that he is obliged to come to the Assembly and discuss thoroughly with MPs prior to any further decision. Furthermore, the same steps should have been undertaken even before deciding on reciprocity and many meaningless and inappropriate statements  about obstruction of membership at international organisations,” Nagavci added.

CDHRF: Opposition should take on responsibility for dialogue (RTK)

Kosovo’s Council for Defense of Human Rights and Freedom assessed that opposition in Kosovo, should in all circumstances and with full capacity, become part of the negotiating team for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue process.

CDHRF noted in a press release that eventual rejection does not release the opposition from the responsibility in case of a bad agreement for Kosovo.

CDHRF reminded the opposition that any government elected with 61 votes of the Kosovo Assembly MPs is legitimate, therefore Hoti’s government is completely legitimate.

 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

EU’s Lajčák: Details about meetings in Pristina on Thursday (N1, FoNet)

The European Union’s special envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations Miroslav Lajčák said on Wednesday he would report on the meetings he had in Kosovo’s capital on Thursday, when his three-day visit, the FoNet news agency reported.

Lajčák met Isa Mustafa, the leader of the Democratic Leauge of Kosovo (LDK) on Wednesday, and is due to talk to Kadri Veseli, the leader of the Democratic Party of Kosovo and former Parliament Speaker.

On Tuesday, Lajčák had meetings with President Hashim Thaci, Parliament Speaker Vjosa Osmani, Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti and the members of the international institutions in Kosovo.

Lajčák is due in Belgrade on June 22, a day after the general elections in Serbia.    

https://bit.ly/2AHJZeo

Vucic about Hoti’s platform for dialogue: Then do not come to negotiations (KoSSev)

The President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic told the Pristina representatives not to come to negotiate with the conditions they present to the public “like parrots” because those conditions are unacceptable for Serbia, reports portal KoSSev. 

Today, as in previous days, Vucic said that he did not not know who as a part of Serbian delegation would go to Washington, but today he also stated that he “even does not know what the topic will be”, although he emphasized these days that economic development would be the topic. However, his expectations from the meeting are moderate, writes portal KoSSev. 

“I do not expect spectacular things; I expect a rational and pragmatic conversation. Serbia is small to be able to order the White House; we will see what they will come out with.”

On the other hand, he underlined that Serbia was strong enough to say what its national interests were and emphasized that he would not talk about the recognition of Kosovo in Washington.

That was why he told his colleagues in Pristina not to come to a dialogue with such requests.

“There are five conditions, five things that Avdulah Hoti talked about today, and all five conditions are absolutely unacceptable to us. And if it is a platform with which Hoti will come somewhere for some conversations, or Hoti and Thaci, it is all the same to me, we don’t interfere in their elections, people, you better not come anywhere,” he says to Pristina officials.  

Vucic said that he saw the demands from Pristina as blackmail and threats with which they were trying to harm Serbia and change the position of Belgrade, but he also added that it did not work.

“If you think you set your position because you repeat ‘like parrots’ every day how you made a lot of compromises then come on, we don’t have to talk, let’s see how we can function and preserve peace and stability and that is it.” 

Today, the President left out the answer to the question of the journalist of TV Most about the disrespect of the decision of the Kosovo Constitutional Court which confirms the ownership of the Decani monastery over 24 ha of land in the vicinity of the monastery and “opening of the road on a usurped land”.

Instead of answering, he said that it was “horror” and that Serbia “strongly condemns” this and made the following assessment of the Kosovo political scene.

“There is a kind of national hysteria of Albanians, I am satisfied because we see our position much more calmly and in a calmer tone and in a calmer atmosphere.”

KoSSev recalls that Kosovo government officials yesterday opened works on the section of the road Decani – Plav, which should pass through a special protected zone around the monastery Visoki Decani, contrary to the law that explicitly prohibits the construction of transit roads in the zones and without the consent of the monastery fraternity, and which was prevented in May 2018 by a the wide diplomatic action.

American surprise and “Kosovo battle” on the eve of Vidovdan (B92, Sputnik)

The special envoy of the President of the USA for Kosovo Richard Grenell obviously has a feeling that there is a possibility to reach at least an agreement on economic cooperation, reports Sputnik, quotes B92 portal. 

The director of the Republika Srpska representative office in Washington and analyst Obrad Kesic, on the occasion of Grenell’s meeting announced for June 27, on the eve of Vidovdan (St. Vitus’ Day), says for Sputnik: 

“If we look at what Grenell has already made public, I think it’s realistic to start with that – that an agreement is expected to be reached on opening economic co-operation between Belgrade and Pristina, so that would create some momentum before key stages of the negotiations in the fall. At least that’s how it’s estimated here.”

At the State Department, those who worked on the Kosovo issue were surprised by the speed with which Grenell started to mediate between Belgrade and Pristina, adds Kesic.

Any success in foreign policy negotiations can be magnified but given the current state of affairs in the United States, foreign policy, according to Kesic’s assessment, will not play a significant role in the presidential election campaign.

The combination of the coronavirus epidemic, the economic crisis associated with it and the riots caused by the murder of George Floyd made foreign policy not to attract much attention in the election campaign. In addition, Kesic emphasizes, the mainstream media, which are oriented against Donald Trump, will not emphasize any of his success in the foreign policy field.

He recalls the promise made by Trump a few days ago, when he said that he would not send the army to solve the problems of other states, as well as that America would no longer engage in experiments to create new states that are not capable of surviving on their own. In that context, I am not sure that there are more places in the campaign to place some foreign policy success, Kesic points out.

Grenell’s statement that, if the parties are not satisfied with the talks on June 27, things will return to the status quo, Kesic interprets the increasingly loose support that Kosovo Albanians have in Washington. This statement grew out of the growing frustration of the White House, the State Department, and even Grenell himself, with the unstable political situation in Pristina.

“I think Albanians in the United States are losing ground; the only place where they still have some support remains in Congress, especially in the House of Commons, where one of their key allies, Eliot Engel, chairs the Foreign Policy Committee. He has been trying to impose views of the “previous administrations through testimonies, writing letters and public appearances, criticizing the Trump administration’s policy regarding negotiations,” Kesic said.

However, the erosion of support for Pristina in Washington is evident, and if there is no progress in the negotiations or the agreement is not implemented, the still existing trust in Hashim Thaci and the entire political elite in Pristina will be doomed to the end.

However, Kesic, as he says, does not believe that Grenell would have organized a meeting in the White House if he was not largely sure that some kind of agreement could be reached.

Milivojevic: We have maneuvering space, our arguments grew stronger (RTS)

A diplomat Zoran Millivojevic told RTS the EU has an interest to be engaged in resolving the Kosovo issue, adding that Serbia has maneuvering space as its arguments grew stronger. He also opined Grenell would continue with the economic package.

Commenting on upcoming talks in Moscow and Washington as well as about the role and influence of the EU Special Envoy Mirolsav Lajkcak, Milivojevic told RTS news program that Lajcak’s visit and messages from the US are confirmation of what had been announced by initiatives and engagement of the US to bring Kurti’s government down, new Pristina government as well as new measures that would enable continuation of dialogue.

“On the other hand, there was appointment of Lajcak as a special envoy and aspiration of the EU to get involved in the dialogue again, having in mind that previous administration faced a failure as well as that the EU has interest to be engaged on this issue,” Milivojevic said.

Talking about the role of Moscow in the upcoming dialogue, Milivojevic said that the role of Moscow in general when it comes to resolving Kosovo issue is unavoidable as this issue must be resolved at the UN Security Council.

“The role of Moscow is important to us, considering its stance that solution is possible based on the international law, Resolution 1244 and respecting the Serbian interests,” Milivojevic pointed out.  

He also opined it was confirmed that the approach of Washington in resolving the Kosovo issue is more pragmatic and that Grenell’s initiative would continue.

According to him, the meeting at the White House should be an introductory meeting in the continuation of a dialogue.

“This initiative for a meeting is not surprising given all what preceded it – everything was in line with what Washington wanted and initiated”, he said.

Milivojevic added he expects Grenell would continue with the economic package, which relaxes relations and is suitable because it does not open the main topic with conflicting stances of the two sides that would make dialogue impossible. There would probably be discussion about realization of the previous agreements, and some new package on the same lines aiming to create an environment for political talks that could perhaps have status issue as a topic. At the end he concluded since elections in the US are nearing, some sort of success would suit Trump’s administration as well.

Commenting on the role of the EU and its interest, Milivojevic noted that significant acceleration is expected because Germany would preside over the EU and it is in the interest of a German Chancellor Angela Merkel to complete her political career in such a way.

“It is interlinked engagement and interests of all sides were involved so this is the reason for acceleration and it does not go to our favor when major powers want to resolve the issue at any cost,” Milivojevic explained.

“We have maneuvering space since our arguments grew stronger and because the situation in Pristina is unstable, and there are contradicting stances between Washington and Berlin also, as there is decisiveness of our friends to protect our interests and arguments and here I refer to Russia and China”, Milivojevic concluded.  

The first case of coronavirus in Serbian areas South of the Ibar (RTV Puls)

A Serb employed in the Kosovo police, is infected with the coronavirus, RTV Puls reports. The positive result of the test arrived last night from the National Institute of Public Health in Pristina, the president of the municipality of Partes Dragan Petkovic confirmed to RTV Puls. 

This is the first registered case of Covid – 19 in Serbian areas south of the Ibar since the declaration of the epidemic.

After the virus was determined, the police officer was removed from work and is in home isolation, together with the whole family, which will be tested during the day. Other people, with whom the infected was in contact lately, are in isolation as well. 

The director of the health center of Gnjilane in Pasjane, Dr. Zoran Peric, says for RTV Puls that they did not receive an official report from the Institute of Public Health in Pristina, but that the infected person was examined in the ambulance in Partes, where samples were taken from him as well as from the persons who were in contact with him. 

The results are expected on Saturday, said Peric.

Dacic: Moscow will support every solution in Belgrade’s interest (Beta, N1)

Ivica Dacic, Serbia’s Foreign Minister, said on Wednesday that Russia would support every solution to the Kosovo issue which Belgrade wanted and if it suited Belgrade’s interests, adding Serbia would not accept to recognise Kosovo’s independence as the end of the dialogue, the Beta news agency reported.

Dacic’s statement comes ahead of Thursday’s visit to Serbia by his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, and after the announcement of the Belgrade and Pristina delegations meeting at the White House on June 27, six days after Serbia’s general elections due on June 21.

The meeting is seen as the US attempt to solve the issue quickly, but raise some eyebrows in Brussels, which officially has the leading role in facilitating the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations that has been on hold since November 2018.

Serbia’s leaders have said they accept the US role but won’t mind Russia’s involvement as well.

Referring to that accelerated international diplomacy to resume the dialogue, Dacic told the Belgrade Prva TV, that “there is a high tide of initiatives for different meetings.”

“At the same time, there is a low tide of ideas. In other words – will those meetings be just for the sake of them or will they revive the dialogue from clinical death? We’ll see,” Dacic said, adding he did not believe that “we are close to a solution at all.”

“We have offered some proposals, but they were mostly rejected,” he said.

Dacic added that those who organised the dialogue “have to be aware that Serbia won’t accept the recognition of Kosovo (as an independent state) as a must and – we end the dialogue.”

“It’s about accepting the talks based on some compromises, but someone should suggest them. We haven’t heard them so far,” the Minister said.  

https://bit.ly/3e8yJq8

European Parliament rapporteurs welcome Lajcak visit to Kosovo (N1)

The European Parliament rapporteurs for Serbia and Kosovo, Vladimir Bilcik and Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, welcomed European Union envoy Miroslav Lajcak’s first visit to Kosovo and warned that too much time has been wasted in efforts to normalize Belgrade-Pristina relations.

They expressed full support for Lajcak and urged political leaders from both sides to engage with him in good faith and constructively.

“There is no alternative to the European Union facilitated Dialogue because both Serbia and Kosovo are European countries with a clear European perspective and both Serbia and Kosovo have committed to joining the EU. Miroslav Lajčák can count on our unequivocal support and our cooperation during his talks linked to advancing the Dialogue,” the joint statement said.

The statement recalled that the EU stood by its Western Balkans partners during the pandemic, “providing medical and humanitarian aid coupled with robust financial assistance and inclusion in the joint procurement schemes”.

“We have also been engaged in constant online political discussions with our Western Balkans partners and have strongly supported the relaunch of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue as a matter of political priority. Too much time has been wasted and we therefore welcome EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák’s first visit to Kosovo to be followed by his visit to Serbia next week,” it added.

See at: https://bit.ly/2zFmWk7

The ”Smuggling” case trial begins; Prosecution witnesses also plead not guilty (KoSSev)

The ”Smuggling” case trial began in Pristina yesterday, in which 33 people were indicted, mostly members of the Kosovo Police, who were arrested in police actions organized in May and October of last year.

The lawyer of one of the defendants, Predrag Miljkovic confirmed for KoSSev that all 33 defendants, including three prosecution witnesses, who are also accused of crimes, pleaded not guilty to the crimes they were charged with.

All three accused accomplices are police officers.

Miljkovic said that the request of the defendants’ lawyers to terminate their custody was rejected. The defendants will remain in custody until further notice, he added.

Miljkovic revealed that he expects a long trial since the trial proceedings are being conducted against 33 people, adding that it is still too early to draw conclusions about the outcome and evidence of the prosecution.

”It is still too early to assess that and we have yet to file an objection to the indictment. Some evidence has not been translated, which is a technical error of the prosecution. We were told it would be corrected quickly and that these statements would be delivered,” he told KoSSev.

On May 18th, the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office filed an indictment against 33 people, who were arrested as part of an operation conducted in May and October last year after an investigation lasting months. The defendants are charged with accepting bribes, giving bribes, abusing official duties, smuggling goods and in some cases, illegal possession of weapons. The majority of the defendants – 25 of the 38 defendants – are police officers.

Although they were initially charged with the criminal offense of ”participation in an organized criminal group”, the prosecutor dropped this offense in the latest indictment.

The criminal offense of „participation in an organized criminal group“ remained, however, in the indictment filed against five people from Leposavic, whose trial was postponed on June 9th because the defendants’ lawyers were not provided with a translation, the Betimi per Drejtesi portal reported. Three of the five defendants in this case are members of the Kosovo Police.

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

White House ready to host Belgrade – Pristina meeting (N1, VOA)

Robert O’Brien, the United States National Security Advisor, said he was ready to host Serbia’s and Kosovo’s leaders and President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations Richard Grenell, who should meet in Washington on June 27, the Voice of America (VOA) reported late on Tuesday.

Grenell has announced the two delegations would meet at the White House and described it as great news, adding the talks would focus on the economy.

Pristina welcomed the US initiative, hoping the talks would result in Belgrade’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence. At the same time, Belgrade said it would not allow that final status of its former province be on the meeting agenda.

Some analysts say the US has become involved in the Kosovo issue aiming to score an international victory ahead of Trump’s attempt to win his second term in November.

Brussels was not delighted with a sudden move by Washington which came on the day when the European Union’s special envoy for the dialogue Miroslav Lajčák was due to Pristina for talks with the leaders there.

After the meetings, he said the EU wanted Belgrade and Pristina to resume the dialogue as soon as possible and reach a final agreement to normalise their relations.

Lajčák will come to Belgrade on June 22, the day after the general elections in Serbia. Some politicians believe that the US would not invite the two sides for the meeting if it did not receive assurances that a deal would be made.

However, Grenell tweeted that if either side were not happy with the talks, they would return to the status quo regarding their relations.        

See at: https://bit.ly/3fJbS4X

Brnabic: If they wanted to find out who killed Ivanovic, they would have found out by now (KoSSev)

The Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic was assassinated two years and five months ago. The Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic commented yesterday on the investigation into Ivanovic’s murder, KoSSev portal reports.

While answering questions of allegations is it possible that suspects involved in the murder of Oliver Ivanovic are hiding in Serbia under international arrest warrants, the Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic replied that “we have heard accusations against Serbia a hundred times so far, and nothing ever came out of it. They accused a lot of people, but nothing came out of it“, she said.

According to Brnabic, Serbia has already shared with everyone “all the information it has about the murder of Oliver Ivanovic”.

“It is in our interest to find Oliver Ivanovic’s murderer. Pristina has never done that. We did not receive any information we asked from them, nor am I aware if they are really conducting an investigation there“, she added.

“Let’s see what they will do there“, Brnabic said ahead of the continuation of the trial in Pristina against those accused of involvement in Ivanovic’s murder, which was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak”.

“If they wanted to find out who killed Oliver Ivanovic, they would have found out by now,“ the Prime Minister of Serbia said, while also adding that Pristina is not “the only culprit“.

See at: https://bit.ly/3fyg6w8

RIK President: Information is expected for elections in Kosovo and Metohija (KoSSev)

President of the Serbian Republic Election Commission (RIK), Vladimir Dimitrijevic said that information was expected in accordance with the instructions for conducting the Serbian parliamentary elections in Kosovo and Metohija on June 21, KoSSev portal reports.

“Information is expected in accordance with the instructions, in order to bring the appropriate instructions if necessary,” Dimitrijevic said at the RIK’s session.

Vice President of the Commission, Zeljka Radeta, stated that there are 90 polling stations in Kosovo and Metohija, and that “neither working bodies, permanent staff, nor expanded, nor the schedule of coordinators, have been adopted yet”.

Dimitrijevic said that the two coordinators for Kosovo and Metohija have been appointed, KoSSev portal reported.

 

 

 

Opinion

 

The signing ceremony is on (Prishtina Insight)

The Trump administration seems close to achieving its long held goal of concluding a major deal in foreign policy in the shape of some form of agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. But with no strategy outlined and the absence of Europe from the process, it can only do damage, writes Besnik Pula, published author and Associate Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech.

“With a new, prostrate government in Prishtina voted in this month, and the expected completion of elections this Sunday in Serbia, the path towards a Washington-brokered agreement between Kosovo and Serbia is now open. White House emissary Richard Grenell wasted little time in scheduling a high level meeting between representatives of Kosovo and Serbia in Washington for June 27 for, as he put it, “Dialogue discussions.”

“In recent months, Grenell has left no stone unturned to ensure that all obstacles to a “historic agreement” were removed. This included applying pressure to the previous coalition government, leading to its collapse, and ensuring that not only the 100 percent import tariff on Serbian goods, but also reciprocal trade measures were removed.

“The tariff issue between Prishtina and Washington created the perception to many in Kosovo that in making a unilateral demand on their leadership, Grenell is doing Serbia’s bidding. This was a difficult pill to swallow for many Kosovar Albanians, since public perception largely views the United States as both their saviour from genocide (given its leadership of the 1999 NATO intervention) and the chief power responsible for Kosovo’s independence (with Washington’s recognition of Kosovo in 2008). 

“But it is important to take a step back and look at both the current context of US foreign policy and take stock of the diplomatic dynamics that brought Kosovo and Serbia to this point.”

Read more at: https://bit.ly/2YJvsa1

US and EU Policy on Kosovo is in Disarray (Balkan Insight)

The Trump administration is pushing for a quick deal between Pristina and Belgrade after the European Union failed to restart the dialogue – but the rift between the US and the EU is bad news for Kosovo itself.

While there have rarely been more envoys and special representatives mandated to help solve the Kosovo-Serbia dispute, it is hard to think of a time where there has been so little coordination, political vision and tangible plans to deal with unfinished business in the Western Balkans.

As a result, Kosovo, which in itself has never been more divided on the way forward, is left in an impossible situation having to choose between the American promise of a quick solution under the US presidential envoy’s unconventional and non-transparent diplomacy, a process led by an aimless EU, or the status quo. Undoubtedly, none represent a compelling prospect.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/2N8xzit

 

 

 

 International

 

Borrell nominates three new Heads of EU Delegations to the Western Balkans (EWB)

BRUSSELS – High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell announced a list of senior nominations yesterday, which includes three new Heads of EU Delegations to the Western Balkan countries.

Thomas Szunyog has been nominated as Head of the EU Office in Kosovo. He is currently Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the Political and Security Committee of the European Union. Current Head of the EU Office in Kosovo is Natalyia Apostolova, whose mandate as the EU Special Representative to Kosovo ends on 31 August.

David Geer has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of North Macedonia. He is currently Head of the EEAS Sanctions Policy Division, and will be replacing Samuel Žbogar, who has held the position of Head of EU Delegation to Macedonia since 2016.

As announced earlier, Oana Cristina Popa has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro. She is currently the Ambassador of Romania to Serbia.

Additionally, Angelina Eichorst has been nominated as the Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia. She was previously EEAS Director, Deputy Managing Director Western Europe, Western Balkans, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

See at: https://bit.ly/37EcqWB

EU, US display differences over Serbia-Kosovo negotiation (AP)

Kosovo’s president on Tuesday hailed the United States for its leadership role in negotiations to normalize ties with its former wartime foe Serbia. But differences emerged between the Trump administration’s envoy and European officials on who should lead the talks.

U.S. envoy Richard Grenell has invited officials from Kosovo and Serbia to meet at the White House on June 27 in hopes of boosting their talks after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The invitation came as the new European Union envoy for the negotiations, Miroslav Lajcak, arrived in Kosovo on Tuesday.

See at: https://bit.ly/30PKZbh

Balkan nations must not be faced with choice between West and Russia, says Lavrov (TASS)

The Russian top diplomat also said he had drew EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell’s attention to the necessity of the implementation of the agreements reached between Belgrade and Pristina several years ago

See more at: https://bit.ly/2US1qQs

Serbia, Kosovo Prepare for Restart of Talks in Washington (Balkan Insight)

Officials in Pristina hailed US envoy Richard Grenell’s announcement of a meeting between Kosovo and Serbia’s leaders in Washington, but Belgrade voiced suspicion about the Kosovo leadership’s trustworthiness.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic reacted warily on Tuesday after Richard Grenell, US president Donald Trump’s special envoy for Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, announced talks at the White House on June 27 and said that Pristina and Belgrade had offered temporary concessions.

See at: https://bit.ly/37zscCk

Parliament extends and beefs up Swiss peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (swissinfo.ch)

Lawmakers in Switzerland have approved an extension to the Swisscoy peacekeeping mission in Kosovo until the end of 2023. The armed peacekeeping force will also be strengthened. 

A three-year extension requested by the Swiss government was approved by lawmakers on Tuesday, allowing for a contingent of up to 195 Swiss peacekeepers in Kosovo from April 2021. This force can be reinforced with an additional 20 people in the event of an increased threat. These reinforcements can only operate for a period of four months. In addition, fifty military personnel can be engaged for a period of eight months to perform logistical and maintenance tasks. 

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

Trade barriers and wary eye on Serbia hold back Balkan economies (Financial Times)

Business sees benefits in a ‘mini-Schengen’ but bilateral disputes stand in the way

One in every six apples grown in Serbia that is not exported is processed by Nectar Group, Serbia’s leading fruit juice producer. Established in the late 1990s — a tumultuous time in the region — its first product was apple cider vinegar.

Now it generates revenue of more than €100m a year. It has 30 percent of Serbian market share and more than 20 per cent in the western Balkans region, with its population of about 18m. 

The company’s biggest processing plant is in the south of Serbia and handles 120,000 tonnes of fruit every year. Nectar also has operations in neighbouring North Macedonia and in Slovenia. The three countries were formerly part of Yugoslavia, where one of Nectar’s best-known brands, Fructal — a Slovenian business it bought in 2011 — was a household name. 

Yugoslavia’s wars and collapse in the 1990s created a set of borders that Nectar, in common with many other businesses, had not had to contend with before. Now its trucks of fruit coming from North Macedonia to Serbia are subject to customs and sanitary checks, and long wait times at the border.

See more at: https://on.ft.com/2US0ueU

Trump envoy brokers White House meeting for Kosovo and Serbia presidents (The Guardian)

Fears of hasty deal to bolster US president’s re-election prospects as EU sidelined

The presidents of Kosovo and Serbia will meet at the White House later this month, as Donald Trump aims to make a breakthrough in the long-running dispute between the two nations.

The meeting, announced this week by Trump’s controversial Balkan envoy, Richard Grenell, came as a surprise to European capitals and raised concerns in some quarters that a hasty deal between Belgrade and Pristina could involve a land-swap that could have unpredictable knock-on effects.

“If, and it’s a big if, this initiative succeeds, it will be something of a slap in the face for the EU and its many years of efforts trying to normalise relations between Belgrade and Pristina,” said Corina Stratulat, of the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2YEwrbE

Red Flag: Ahead Of Serbian Vote, Vucic And Allies Lean On China Ties (RFE)

BELGRADE — Serbia’s ruling right-wing populists are expected to dominate this weekend’s national elections following a campaign that has featured a lot of flag-waving.

It’s just not the flag that most would expect to see in the Balkans, where the wedges of ethnically fueled nationalism and regional influence are countered by the economic and political allure of Western integration.

Instead, it’s the yellow-starred, red banner of communist China.

For months — including under a state of emergency over the COVID-19 threat that interrupted more than a year of weekly pro-democracy protests — President Aleksandar Vucic and his government allies have encouraged Serbia’s 7 million citizens to see China as vital to the nation’s fate.

See more at:https://bit.ly/30P2GYf

 

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

16 Fathers and Sons Massacred, One Kosovo Family Torn Apart (Balkan Insight)

During the Kosovo war in April 1999, Serbian forces seized 16 men and boys from the same family, murdered them and hid their remains in a secret mass grave – and none of the perpetrators has ever been prosecuted.

In the village of Nakarade, where the Mirena family lives, not far from the railway line that runs to Mitrovica from Fushe Kosova/Kosovo Polje, the silence lies heavy. Although the village has grown larger in the 21 years since the war ended, there is little movement to be seen here.

See at: https://bit.ly/3fJ7brR

OSCE Mission published report on property rights claims resolution in post-conflict Kosovo (media)

The OSCE Mission in Kosovo published yesterday the Property Rights Mass-Claim Mechanism: Kosovo experience report, an evaluation of two decades of the handling of property cases arising after 1999, Serbian media reported.

The report analyses the challenges the Housing and Property Directorate (HPD, 1999–2006), Kosovo Property Agency (KPA, 2006-2016), as well as the current Kosovo Property Comparison and Verification Agency (KPCVA, established in 2016) faced in their endeavors, the results they achieved and the remaining gaps.

In the last 20 years these three agencies resolved over 70,000 residential, commercial and agricultural claims. However, difficulties in notifications to the parties, in the administration of properties, administration of the rental scheme, the parallel review of cases by the courts, the demolition of illegal structures and compensation of cases were challenges to the adjudication of the post-conflict property claims.

Full statement is available at: https://bit.ly/2AMjYL9

The report is available at: https://bit.ly/30Q6RTV

 

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