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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 18, 2020

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 18, 2020

Albanian Language Media:

• Grenell: Kosovo, Serbia leaders to begin new era of stability and prosperity (media)
• Lajcak: Dialogue ready to resume, date to be set soon (media)
• Hoti meets political leaders, VV and PDK boycott meeting (media)
• Nagavci: Hoti and government to know there’s a point they cannot cross (media)
• Limaj: Dialogue should have a name (Telegrafi)

Serbian Language Media:

• Vucic worried about ”Russia’s assessments regarding various plans and ideas” for solving the Kosovo issues (KoSSev, B92)
• Jeremic: Some announcement on Kosovo at White House on June 27 (N1)
• Lavrov today in Belgrade, what are the key topics of conversation (RTS)
• Vucic, Lajcak, Moscow, Washington … and Mile (B92)
• Vucic: EU doesn’t know what to offer us for Kosovo’s UN membership (Vecernje Novosti, Beta, N1)
• Stoltenberg: Meeting in Washington right step in right direction (RTS)
• Why Trump’s withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Germany relates to the Balkans (Klix.ba, B92)
• Lajcak meet Serbian List officials, mayors (N1)
• Djuric: Hoti buries dialogue (RTS)
• Vucic: If SNS doesn’t win an absolute majority, it will not ask for a mandate (B92, RTS)
• Rakic met northern Kosovo mayors (Kosovo-online)

Opinion:

• Don’t count on a White House Kosovo-Serbia breakthrough (Atlantic Council)
• Russia-Serbia partnership does not depend on Belgrade’s dialogue with Brussels (Info Ros)

International:

• Europe Worries Trump May Wreck Chunk of Merkel’s Legacy (Bloomberg)

Humanitarian/Development:

• Film festivals in Kosovo postponed until August (Prishtina Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Grenell: Kosovo, Serbia leaders to begin new era of stability and prosperity (media)
  • Lajcak: Dialogue ready to resume, date to be set soon (media)
  • Hoti meets political leaders, VV and PDK boycott meeting (media)
  • Nagavci: Hoti and government to know there’s a point they cannot cross (media)
  • Limaj: Dialogue should have a name (Telegrafi)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Vucic worried about ”Russia’s assessments regarding various plans and ideas” for solving the Kosovo issues (KoSSev, B92)
  • Jeremic: Some announcement on Kosovo at White House on June 27 (N1)
  • Lavrov today in Belgrade, what are the key topics of conversation (RTS)
  • Vucic, Lajcak, Moscow, Washington … and Mile (B92)
  • Vucic: EU doesn’t know what to offer us for Kosovo’s UN membership (Vecernje Novosti, Beta, N1)
  • Stoltenberg: Meeting in Washington right step in right direction (RTS)
  • Why Trump’s withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Germany relates to the Balkans (Klix.ba, B92)
  • Lajcak meet Serbian List officials, mayors (N1)
  • Djuric: Hoti buries dialogue (RTS)
  • Vucic: If SNS doesn’t win an absolute majority, it will not ask for a mandate (B92, RTS)
  • Rakic met northern Kosovo mayors (Kosovo-online)

Opinion:

  • Don’t count on a White House Kosovo-Serbia breakthrough (Atlantic Council)
  • Russia-Serbia partnership does not depend on Belgrade’s dialogue with Brussels (Info Ros)

International:

  • Europe Worries Trump May Wreck Chunk of Merkel’s Legacy (Bloomberg)

Humanitarian/Development: 

  • Film festivals in Kosovo postponed until August (Prishtina Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Grenell: Kosovo, Serbia leaders to begin new era of stability and prosperity (media)

The U.S. Embassy in Kosovo shared a statement made by the Presidential Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Richard Grenell, regarding the upcoming meeting in Washington with representatives from Kosovo and Serbia.

“This White House opportunity opens the door to new economic development and investment. The U.S. hopes leaders in Kosovo and Serbia will seize this chance to return to dialogue and begin a new era of stability and prosperity. The people of this region deserve nothing less,” Grenell said. 

Lajcak: Dialogue ready to resume, date to be set soon (media)

EU Special Representative for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, held a press conference at the end of his visit to Pristina where he declared that conditions are in place for continuation of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue. 

He said Kosovo should speak in one voice and set dialogue above politics. “Dialogue needs to begin very soon. We spoke about concrete steps, dates and priorities. I am pleased that the EU-facilitated dialogue is a priority.”

He also said he respects the fact that the government represents Kosovo in dialogue. “I am not here to choose partners.”

Lajcak did not wish to comment on the upcoming meeting in Washington between Kosovo and Serbia representatives stating: “For me a good agreement is that which brings Kosovo to the EU and I doubt an agreement can be achieved without the EU.”

Lajcak also said he supports visa liberalisation for Kosovo. “The question is when and not if liberalisation will happen,” he said.

Hoti meets political leaders, VV and PDK boycott meeting (media)

Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti met today leaders of political parties ahead of the June 27 meeting in Washington to resume dialogue with Serbia.

Opposition parties, the Vetevendosje Movement and the Democratic Party of Kosovo, boycotted the meeting, media report.

Speaking to reporters, Hoti said that he received support from leaders of political parties noting that he would be representing Kosovo in Washington. 

“In the process of dialogue, Kosovo is represented by the country’s prime minister and the part of the delegation I consider important. I speak on behalf of Kosovo in the dialogue process as constitutional competencies are clear,” he said. 

“We are ready to sit at the table of talks for the sole aim of reaching a final agreement on mutual recognition and normalisation of relations between our two countries,” he said.

Nagavci: Hoti and government to know there’s a point they cannot cross (media)

Arberie Nagavci from Vetevendosje said that the ‘unlawful’ government of Kosovo led by Avdullah Hoti is preparing to set out to Washington to meet the Serbian side without knowing what the purpose of the trip is and without an agenda. 

“As to the topics of the meeting of June 27 at the White House, President Thaci has continued to give clear signals about what he has planned.”

“Events are happening quickly these days, decision after decision, each worse than the other. Just when you think it cannot get any worse, you see you are wrong,” Nagavci wrote on Facebook adding: “One day it may be too late, too late for us because Mr. Hoti and his colleagues have already determined not only their present but also their future and they’ll realise this very soon.”

Nagavci went on to say that Hoti and the government needs to be made aware that there is a limit to how far they can go. “There is a scenario they should not carry out, there is a point beyond which they cannot go.”

Limaj: Dialogue should have a name (Telegrafi)

Leader of the Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA) Fatmir Limaj said that in the meeting with Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti ahead of the White House meeting he underlined the importance of having a broad consensus on the issue of dialogue. 

“The forum of parliamentary parties’ leaders is a good opportunity to coordinate activities in the process of dialogue with Serbia,” he wrote on Facebook adding that it is crucial for Kosovo’s government and opposition to speak in one voice. 

“Two things need to be clarified before the dialogue begins: the timeframe and the name. The future dialogue with Serbia, wherever it takes place, should bear this name: dialogue for recognition,” he said.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Vucic worried about ”Russia’s assessments regarding various plans and ideas” for solving the Kosovo issues (KoSSev, B92)

The President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic met today with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, reports portal KoSSev.

After the meeting in a press conference, he said that he remained worried because of the assessment of the Russian Federation and its Foreign Affairs Minister, Lavrov in relation to ”some plans which officially or unofficially we did not get”. 

“Today, we received certain assessments from the Russian Federation, i.e. the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, which additionally worried me as president, and they concern various plans and ideas regarding the solution of the Kosovo-Metohija crisis. I do not want to deceive anyone or hide something from the Serbian public; it is obvious that we are facing a difficult period in which we will face great pressure to realize some plans that we did not receive officially or unofficially. But based on certain assessments of our Russian friends, it seems to me that we will have to be extremely careful and very careful in following every idea that is presented to us,” Vucic said today after meeting Lavrov.

He presents this information before the meeting with Pristina officials announced for June 27 in Washington.

At the same time, he thanked Russia for protecting Serbia’s interests in the UN Security Council, but also “together with Serbia, protects numerous international organizations and institutions from illegality and from the influence of those who have already recognized Kosovo’s so-called independence.”

From today, the president will talk to Russia on an “almost daily basis”.

“One thing is clear, if any solution should be reached in any way, that any solution requires the consent of the Russian Federation,” Vucic said today.

He also said that Serbia supports the dialogue under the auspices of the EU and that it will know how to preserve its vital national interests regardless of “the price it will have to pay.”

Consultations with the Russian Federation will continue at the upcoming meeting with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow.

“Where we will additionally exchange assessments, experiences, knowledge that we have about events and relations in the international arena and about how and in what way Serbia can endure and preserve its interests in the best possible way.”

Apart from Kosovo, the topic of the meeting was also Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

“We have several important events this year, among other things we have the anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement and we will have some other anniversaries where there will obviously be attempts to put new burdens on the back and neck of the Serbian state and the Serbian people,” Vucic said. 

Vucic also asked Russia for support for the Serbian Orthodox Church “whose survival is endangered in the region”, reported portal KoSSev.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he was satisfied with the negotiations and cooperation with Serbia.

“The problem of Kosovo remains unresolved and Russia believes that the EU must not isolate itself from its obligations and must fulfill them fairly and fight for the realization of those solutions and agreements that have already been reached – the agreement on the Community of Serbian municipalities, which is now sabotaged by the Pristina side”, Lavrov said.

“We will support all initiatives that will help Belgrade and Pristina reach an agreement. At the suggestion of Russia, the territorial integrity of Serbia is confirmed in Resolution 1244,” the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs added.

Journalists asked Lavrov what attitude Russia would have if Serbia accepted an EU offer, for example to give the green light to Kosovo to “go further”, in exchange for significant financial assistance and EU integration, Lavrov said the question should be posed to Serbia, not him.

“We are aware of the position of Serbia and the Serbian leadership, as well as that Belgrade will be guided by the national interests of its state and its people,” Lavrov answered briefly, followed by the answer of the President of Serbia who said: 

“In a polite way, he answered to you, that this is a question for us, not for our Russian friends. If I need to be clear and unambiguous, when it comes to the question of whether we will say that we agree to recognize Kosovo in exchange for the EU membership, our answer is no.”

“It will not be an easy situation for us,” Vucic added, and reminded of the active diplomatic campaign regarding the issue of resolving the status of Kosovo in the coming days. 

“On every Vidovdan, things become clear,” he concluded.

Jeremic: Some announcement on Kosovo at White House on June 27 (N1)

After the meeting of Belgrade and Pristina at the White House something would be announced, one doesn’t go to the White House to negotiate, leader of the Serbian opposition Peoples’ Party Vuk Jeremic told TV N1 broadcast “Studio Live”.

US President Trump’s Special Envoy Richard Grenell said earlier that Belgrade and Pristina representatives would meet on June 27 in Washington, while President Aleksandar Vucic rejected speculations that Serbia would consent to Kosovo independence.

Commenting on the address of President Vucic following his meeting with the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov, Jeremic singled out “as interesting” Lavrov’s statement about the importance of the EU’s role.

“Lavrov said one interesting thing, which he did not mention before, and it was the importance of the EU’s role. And when Russian Minister mentions the importance of the EU this is not something you can cross over, it was a message to the Belgrade leadership,” Jeremic said.

Asked about what would happen on June 27 at the White House, Jeremic said it was a major decision that the meeting takes place exactly there and that you do not discuss “minor matters” at the White House.

“There would be talks about important matters, there would be talks about status. Something would be announced at the White House, because one does not go to the White House to negotiate. Something is being negotiated about currently, and you spend one hour at the White House and announce what is currently at the process of agreeing,” he added.

“Vucic would handover something and I think it won’t be a seat in the UN. On June 27 some announcement, some sort of a US mini announcement would be made, Vucic would hand over some part of sovereignty, and would get in return that Washington benevolently looks at the June 21 elections, that would be anything but regular. Vucic needs that,” Jeremmic underlined.

Speaking about boycotting upcoming Serbian parliamentary elections, Jeremic said whoever invites people to take part in the elections acts no differently than those inviting people to go shopping in Italy (at the time of the coronavirus outbreak there).

“Reasons for boycott are there, more than earlier, but they fade away compared to pandemic. They are less important than the health of people. No one has doubts about what the results of those elections would be, you change nothing and yet expose yourself to the risk”, Jeremic said.  

Lavrov today in Belgrade, what are the key topics of conversation (RTS)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives in Belgrade today, where he will meet with President Aleksandar Vucic and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, reports Radio television of Serbia (RTS).

RTS writes that the key topic of conversation with the highest officials of Serbia will be Washington’s motion that the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo meet at the end of June in the White House.

The timing also speaks about the importance of that visit, because it is not usual for a high-ranking official like Lavrov to visit Serbia two days before the elections. 

Ahead of the meeting with Vucic and Dacic, Lavrov announced that he expected to discuss how the Serbian leadership specifically sees the practical steps of those countries that offer their mediation services in the continuation of the dialogue.

The Serbian member of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, will also meet with Lavrov in Belgrade.

Sergei Lavrov’s visit comes a few days after the Serbian president discussed Kosovo with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone, and the Kremlin said that “Moscow is committed to drafting a compromise solution acceptable to Belgrade, which must be approved by the UN Security Council.”

Lavrov’s visit to Belgrade happens the day after Miroslav Lajcak tried to “reset” the dialogue in Pristina and win over the officials there for an agreement with Belgrade.

On 24 June, Vucic will be attending the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

On June 27, Vucic will attend the White House meeting, as announced by Richard Grenell.

Vucic, Lajcak, Moscow, Washington … and Mile (B92)

This morning, President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, met with the Serbian member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik

The meeting in the building of the General Secretariat of the President of the Republic was also attended by the President of the Republic of Srpska, Zeljka Cvijanovic, and the Prime Minister of Srpska, Radovan Viskovic.

“From Monday, we expect Lajcak in Belgrade, then Moscow, followed by Washington… It is clear to you what that means in a technical, but also in an essential sense,” Vucic said after the conversation with Dodik.

He conveyed that he informed the RS delegation about the facts regarding talks on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, and talked about the difficult schedule in the coming days. “I introduced our guests to everything I knew, or everything I believe we can face, he said what the principles of Serbia are, how much we want peace and stability, but also what our interests are,” Vucic said.

“We are expecting Lajcak as early as on Monday, June 22, then we are going to Moscow, Washington. Then there are other things I cannot talk about. The technical part is much less important than the essential part, which will be more difficult,” Vucic said.

He introduced the guests, he says, with everything he knew, or with everything he believes we can face. “I said what the principles of Serbia are, that it wants peace and stability, but also that we have our interests that we must preserve and protect,” he said.

Dodik was also asked about Kosovo, that is, about solving that problem from the point of view of the Republika Srpska, to which the President of Serbia joked that he would “be destroyed by Mile’s answer”.

“Serbia will never do anything that would not be in the interest of RS, or that anyone in RS would see as Serbia’s bad behavior. We have always helped, are helping and will help, to be a right hand on which RS can rely, and that is all I have to say”, President of Serbia said and added that “we do not need any nonsense and scandals on that issue”.

Then Dodik’s answer to the journalist’s question followed, and he first said that he wanted to emphasize that talking about Kosovo ten years ago and now is not the same, because the position of Serbia is not the same.

He reiterated that Vucic stated that Serbia respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but that the Republika Srpska has a different opinion, i.e. that it believes that it “accidentally found” itself in the Federation.

“We support Serbia in every respect. I am convinced that Serbia’s position today is better in every way and that Serbia does not need to hurry in that regard and should do it best. Republika Srpska sees itself integrated with Serbia and no one can prevent that,” Dodik concluded.

However, Vucic then took to the microphone again and repeated: “What Mile wanted to say is that Serbia supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia-Herzegovina.”

Vucic: EU doesn’t know what to offer us for Kosovo’s UN membership (Vecernje Novosti, Beta, N1)

The idea of the EU is that we do not oppose Kosovo’s membership in the UN, but they still do not know what to offer us. There are “barons” in our ranks as well, there will be fierce changes around July 15, reported Belgrade based daily Vecernje Novosti, quoting President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic.  

Vecernje Novosti made a comment that it looked like the Americans race with the EU, on who would get the first to a solution, Vucic said:

“We run the so-called status negotiations under the auspices of the European Union, and you cannot change that overnight. We would like closer cooperation between the EU and the White House. We would have nothing against the EU ambassador being present. When we talk, we also talk about the European path. Then we will talk to our friends, to see what they think. I talked on the phone with Putin for a long time about Kosovo and Metohija. He was well prepared. We have some new circumstances, so we’ll see. Lajcak is coming on June 22, the day after the elections, so we will see what the EU plans are. He probably comes with certain ideas. “

Asked about Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci’s demand that an agreement should include mutual recognition, Vucic recalled that the US President Donald Trump tweeted about the issue and, “what’s more important, wrote to Thaci and me.”

“I don’t think America will change its view, neither will Germany and France. But, whether we would agree and tell Thaci – bravo, you got everything… it won’t be easy,” Vucic said, adding “it will be difficult and we will be exposed to the great pressure,” regardless where – in Brussels or at the White House.

The daily asked whether the more involvement of Donald Trump in the negotiations would make the topic of delimitation more relevant, Vucic said that he did not think that it was possible and that the EU was conducting a dialogue, and that they had spent three years “explaining that any idea contrary to Kosovo’s independence is impossible.” 

He reiterated that he did not see any new solutions for now. He announces a difficult period ahead and said that “we will have to take care of pulling the strings between the USA and the EU, but we will have to be flexible, to find topics for conversation, to solve the problems of our people from Kosovo and Metohija, to preserve our national interests”.

Vucic said he couldn’t anticipate what Washington might offer to Belgrade but could see what Brussels could suggest if Serbia did not object to Kosovo’s UN membership. 

“I think their idea (the European Union) is to tell us not to object to Kosovo UN membership, but they don’t know what to offer in return. So, we don’t have to recognize Kosovo’s independence formally if we do not oppose Pristina’s seat in the UN,” Vucic told the daily. 

He added he expected Europe to say “Serbia will join the EU in a few years … But that is not enough.”

“Serbia has to be offered much more,” Vucic said.

Whether he would invite Russia to join the dialogue, given that Putin stated that there was no solution for Kosovo without the consent of the UN Security Council, Vucic repeated that he would talk with everyone, and added that ”any solution must be in the UN Security Council. What Putin said was very important to me, and I expect Lavrov to say the same, and that is that Russia will accept everything that Serbia says. In the West, they know that they have to talk to the Russians, but before that they have to talk to us. But we don’t have any paper. I expect the negotiations to continue during July, I have certain indications. We have to see what the approach of the Albanian side will be”.

Belgrade and Pristina delegations are due to meet in Washington on June 27.

Stoltenberg: Meeting in Washington right step in right direction (RTS)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed initiatives for continuation of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue as the only way to resolve the Kosovo issue, RTS reports.

“I welcome the fact that Belgrade and Pristina talk, because this is the only way to resolve challenges in the region and disagreements about Kosovo – by talking about a political solution,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg added he does not wish to speculate about the outcome of the meeting in Washington on June 27, but emphasized that he welcomes the dialogue.

“I do not think it is easy, but it is important that they meet. It is important that after a long time without meetings, it seems that the dialogue continues and this is a right step in the right direction,” Stoltenberg underlined.

He recalled that NATO Alliance continues to be present in Kosovo with three to four thousands members who secure a safe environment for all. 

Why Trump’s withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Germany relates to the Balkans (Klix.ba, B92)

At the beginning of June, the President of the United States of America announced the withdrawal of American troops from Germany. There are currently 34,500 American soldiers in that country, reports the BiH portal Klix.ba. 

The announcement of the intention to withdraw US troops from Germany and the timeline for it are still rather vague, but they fit into the pattern of frustration of US President Donald Trump, especially with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, stated political analyst of the American organization of the Council for the Democratization of Politics, Kurt Bassuener, commenting on Trump’s decision.

According to the American media, Trump ordered the Pentagon to reduce the number of American soldiers stationed in Germany by September. This is obviously a realization of the threat of the former US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, that Washington will reduce the number of soldiers in Germany if that country does not increase its defense expenditures.

“It is stated that the trigger was that Merkel refused to participate in the G-7 summit, due to the constant pandemic, which was contrary to Trump’s desire to ‘reopen America.’ Trump seems to have been irritated by Angela Merkel’s act, perhaps especially because she, as a woman, rejects this type of harassment, which is very reminiscent of the moves of the President of the House of Representatives, Nancy Palosi,” Bassuener told the BiH portal. 

Bassuener states that this also fits into the large-scale dispute in the Balkans between the USA and the EU on the negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, which will be held in Washington on June 27.

“Richard Grenell, the outgoing US ambassador to Germany and former acting director of national intelligence, remains the special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo. Although he claims the meeting will focus on the economy, it can be assumed that the proposal on  ‘land swap’ given by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, once backed by former EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and US National Security Adviser John Bolton, remained relevant. The fact that Merkel was the loudest opponent of border changes in the Balkans made Berlin – the Grenell’s target. Most member states agreed with her position, although, unfortunately, Germany did not lead a counter-offensive within the EU. The fact that the new EU envoy for the region Miroslav Lajcak pointed out that border changes are a bad idea, certainly is also a factor,” Bassuener considers.

Bassuener says the United States is an unreliable ally as long as Trump is president.

He also talked about what that means for Balkan NATO members such as Albania, Montenegro, and now Northern Macedonia and those countries that want to join, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo?

“This could hardly give them more confidence. The US commitment to the Alliance is the backbone of NATO’s ability to maintain peace in the Balkans,” Bassuener said.

“It gives a higher bonus to European NATO members to show leadership in the Alliance – which should be one of the values, as well as collective defense. The fact that the EU also shows a lack of leadership in affirming its values in relations with the Balkan nations and governments increases this problem. All this can be observed with pleasure only by regional illiberal leaders and geopolitical actors. The greater the Western fragmentation is, the greater the maneuver and arbitration are for them. And Vucic is a master at it,” analyst Basseuner told portal Klix.ba.

Lajcak meet Serbian List officials, mayors (N1)

European Union envoy for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak met in Pristina with Serbian List (SL) leader Goran Rakic and mayors of the four Serb-majority northern municipalities, SL said in a press statement on Wednesday.

The Kosovo Serb officials told Lajcak that all agreements have to be implemented, especially the one about the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities, adding that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue needs to continue in order to find a compromise solution.

Mayors of Mitrovica North, Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok called Lajcak to visit their towns. The meeting was also attended by Kosovo Government Minister Dalibor Jevvtic and Serbian List parliament group chief Igor Simic.  

Djuric: Hoti buries dialogue (RTS)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director, Marko Djuric said that Avdulah Hoti buries Belgrade and Pristina dialogue before it has even started, adding it does not cross the mind of Belgrade either to accept a dictate and imposed concept of independence the way Hoti was imposing it.

This way, Djuric reacted to Hoti’s statement he expects from the dialogue that Belgrade, same as five EU member states that have not recognized Kosovo, do so.

Djuric added that Hoti continues the work of his predecessors by putting forward “maximalist, separatist goals and programs that run contrary to the Resolution 1244 as well as goals of the international community”, thus undermining the dialogue.

“Claims that the only possible solution is based on the so-called the only valid Kosovo constitution, that the only possible solution is based on the so-called integrity of Kosovo, claiming that they wish selectively to implement existing agreements, I only want to convey the message that Serbia has its own Constitution and is recognized as UN member state within the borders that include Kosovo and Metohija,” Djuric added.

Djuric noted what Hoti imagined to happen won’t happen, adding that the Constitution of Serbia and international acts are stronger than, as he said, Hoti’s separatist ambitions that bury and obstruct the dialogue.  

Vucic: If SNS doesn’t win an absolute majority, it will not ask for a mandate (B92, RTS)

Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) leader Aleksandar Vucic said that SNS led the cleanest campaign of the ruling party since the introduction of a multi-party system in the country, B92 reports.

He said on RTS 2 that it is of special importance for the SNS to show respect for the citizens of Serbia.

“We decided not to send video materials, but to come to the studio, to introduce ourselves. We talk about what we did and present our plans,” Vucic said.

He added the SNS ran the cleanest campaign the ruling party had ever run.

“We did not insult any list or candidate, we did not talk about others, we did not mention their names. We did not react to the most terrible insults, we did not whine when they destroyed our billboards, banned the video, when they insulted our family or children. In the first place, we presented our plan and program”, Vucic said.

When asked if he was calm while listening to political opponents, even during their presentation on the public service, he answered: “I felt strangely calm.”

“Because apart from insults on my own account I have not heard anything about plans and programs. The more they appeared on TV, the more arrogant they were, the more they insulted, their popularity dropped accordingly,” Vucic said.

He said that the elections are important for the SNS, because they should put a stamp on four years of hard work. “It is very important for us how many votes we will get, every vote is important,” he said.

Everyone at the polling station will be protected from the coronavirus

He added that all members of the election commissions will have masks and gloves, and that people do not have to worry about the coronavirus.

“You just come and vote, you leave, and you don’t take any risks,” Vucic said.

He stated that in the whole of Serbia, excluding Novi Pazar, southern Serbia and Belgrade, there are no more problems as far as coronavirus is concerned.

“Belgrade is literally everything we got today. But, these are not symptoms like they were two months ago. Older people should be preserved, be careful,” he added.

“If SNS does not win an absolute majority, it will not seek a mandate to form a government”

Vucic said that he would like a significant number of Serbian citizens to go to the polls.

“We will not agree to that kind of blackmail, if others can form a government, I will give them that chance. If the party does not win an absolute majority, it will not ask for a mandate for the composition of the government,” he said, warning that every vote is important for SNS.

He added that it is important for Serbia to have a responsible and strong parliament due to the challenges that Serbia faces in the coming period.

“I am convinced that we are facing the acceleration of European integration, and at the same time we must preserve our friendship with China and Russia,” Vucic pointed out.

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

Rakic met northern Kosovo mayors (Kosovo-online)

Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government Administration (MLGA) Goran Rakic met today with mayors from four Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo, Aleksandar Spiric, Vucina Jankovic, Zoran Todic and Srdjan Vulovic, Kosovo-online portal reports.

The interlocutors discussed future plans, strategies and projects that will be focused on economic development, employment and prosperity of young people in order to improve the conditions for their stay in this area, MLGA said in a press statement.

“Rakic emphasized that in the coming period, cooperation between the Ministry of Local Government Administration and municipalities in the north of Kosovo will be at a high level, with the improvement of living conditions of all citizens”, the statement added.

Northern municipalities’ mayors welcomed and congratulated Rakic on his appointment as well as for taking the office as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government Administration.

The former deputy mayor of Mitrovica North, Aleksandar Spiric, took over the function of the acting mayor of this municipality two days ago, following Rakic’s appointment to the new duties.

 

 

Opinion

 

Don’t count on a White House Kosovo-Serbia breakthrough (Atlantic Council)

The surprise announcement of Serbia-Kosovo talks hosted by the White House on June 27 caught many off-guard,  with some even quipping that the high-profile meeting should have been scheduled for the following day, June 28. St. Vitus Day (Vidovdan) is remembered in Southeast Europe for the 1389 battle of Kosovo, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the passage of Yugoslavia’s first constitution in 1921, and, more recently, with the extradition of one Slobodan Milošević to The Hague. The Trump administration would, no doubt, be pleased to see itself similarly entering the region’s annals of history. They may have a shot at it, but there are good grounds for skepticism too, writes Dimitar Bechev, nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.

“The White House wants to see a deal that includes a recognition of Kosovo by Serbia. Washington doesn’t mind if Belgrade’s price is retaining a piece of the disputed land. A breakthrough in the Balkans would be a rare diplomatic achievement for an administration whose international record is less than stellar. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić is looking for a deal too—though he would rather not talk about the recognition part. Same for President Hashim Thaçi who appears willing to trade the Serb-majority lands north of the Ibar River for Belgrade’s acceptance of Kosovo as a sovereign state. In addition, both leaders would be in position to claim a strong mandate by their constituents. Vučić’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and its allies are certain to emerge victorious in the general elections on June 21, which the main opposition groups will boycott. Thaçi, not without US support, prevailed over the former Prime Minister Albin Kurti, his rival and leader of the Vetënvendosje (Self-Reliance) movement opposed to surrendering territory to Serbia. As of June 3, a new coalition cabinet aligned with Thaçi has been confirmed with Abdullah Hoti at its head.  With both Belgrade and Prishtina falling in line, it was Special Envoy Richard Grenell’s turn to make the surprise White House invitation.”

Read more at: https://bit.ly/3delmn1

Russia-Serbia partnership does not depend on Belgrade’s dialogue with Brussels (Info Ros)

By Sergey Lavrov & Ivica Dacic 

Russian-Serbian partnership does not depend on Belgrade’s dialogue with Brussels, Foreign Ministers of Russia and Serbia, Sergey Lavrov and Ivica Dacic, said in a joint article published by Russia’s Rossiisakaya Gazeta and Serbia’s Kurir dailies on Thursday.

“Moscow and Belgrade are strategic partners. We are geared towards closer mutually beneficial cooperation in a wide spectrum of areas. This approach does not depend on Serbia’s plans to negotiate accession to the European Union: it will continue to develop ties with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union,” the ministers noted.

Touching on the Kosovo settlement, the two top diplomats said the two countries would continue close cooperation on that matter on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. “At the same time, we note that some continue to use Serbia’s plans to join the European Union as a tool to exert pressure on Belgrade to make it recognize Kosovo’s ‘independence.’ So, it means that an applicant state is to cede part of its territory,” they noted.

The ministers slammed such requirements as absurd. “Russia and Serbia continue to insist that United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 be observed. A compromise is to be reached in the course of negotiations and this is the exclusive prerogative of Belgrade and Pristina,” the stressed.

Lavrov and Dacic emphasized that it is up to the parties to the conflict to word and adopt a final solution that would be approved by the United Nations Security Council. “Moscow will accept only such a variant of settlement that will be acceptable for Belgrade. As for external mediation, it should be an unbiased monitoring of the observance of international laws during the dialogue, without imposing ready-to-use designs,” they added.

Read more at: https://bit.ly/2APk8Bj

 

 

International

 

Europe Worries Trump May Wreck Chunk of Merkel’s Legacy (Bloomberg)

European Union diplomats are furious that President Donald Trump shut them out of talks between Serbia and Kosovo, fearing not only that EU interests will be sidelined but that the two countries’ long-term interests will suffer.

Three officials familiar with the behind-the-scenes maneuvering in the Balkans said the transatlantic snub ignores years of EU efforts at reconciliation between the two sides and they suspect the main focus for U.S. Special Envoy Richard Grenell is delivering a quick win for his boss. Ahead of the November elections, it could burnish his chances to be secretary of state in a second Trump term.

Cutting the EU out of the process now makes little sense because the countries’ prospects are bound up with their efforts to join the 27-nation bloc, the diplomats said.

The U.S. intervention amounts to a diplomatic grab in an area previously occupied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spearheaded talks between Serbia and Kosovo and championed EU expansion in the Balkans.

Grenell has built his international reputation on making life difficult for Merkel’s government.

See at: https://bloom.bg/2YQ6ztk

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Film festivals in Kosovo postponed until August (Prishtina Insight)

Representatives of two of Kosovo’s biggest film festivals, PriFest and Anibar, have announced their decision to reschedule the physical editions of the festivals to August in response to the spike in reported cases of coronavirus.

PriFest, the Prishtina International Film Festival, announced on Wednesday that it has postponed the physical edition of the festival from 14-19 July until 27-30 August, due to the “drastic increase in the number of cases of COVID-19, especially in Prishtina.”

In May, the Kosovo Cinematography Centre, KCC, along with the directors of the three main film festivals held over the summer in Kosovo – Anibar, PriFest and Dokufest – announced that plans were in place to move ahead with the events during their usual annual time slot.

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

 

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