- 83 new cases of coronavirus in last 24 hours in Kosovo (media)
- Hoti warns restricting measures could be reintroduced (T7/Telegrafi)
- US Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell’s interview to Gazeta Express
- Thaci: Meeting in Washington, a turning point in history (media)
- Hoti on Washington meeting: I speak on Kosovo’s behalf (media)
- Maas: Kosovo, Serbia, European perspective, they need solution with EU (DW)
- Kupchan: White House meeting paves way for final agreement (RFE/Klan)
- Hoti to EU ambassadors: Territory is non-negotiable (media)
- Kurti: Even pondering new borders is insanity and call to conflict (media)
- Veseli: Whoever leads the dialogue, must defend Kosovo (media)
- LDK’s Mustafa: Agreement with Serbia might be reached this year (KTV)
- OSCE to collect in Kosovo ballots for Serbian elections (RFE/Koha)
- Hoxhaj: Lavrov visit, propaganda campaign against Kosovo (media)
Kosovo Media Highlights
83 new cases of coronavirus in last 24 hours in Kosovo (media)
Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said in a statement on Thursday evening that 83 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the last 24 hours. 14 new cases are from the municipality of Prishtina.
There are currently 911 active coronavirus cases in Kosovo.
Hoti warns restricting measures could be reintroduced (T7/Telegrafi)
Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti said that restricting measures could against be introduced if the number of coronavirus cases in Kosovo continues to rise.
“We will activate over 200 healthcare workers in health inspectorate. We don’t want to but it is possible we may go back. If we continue to have high number of cases, restrictions will have to be reintroduced,” Hoti said calling on the citizens to respect the current preventive measures.
“Wear masks, don’t do handshakes, keep the distance. That’s all there is to it,” he said.
US Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell’s interview to Gazeta Express
Mr. Grenell, the last time we spoke, Albin Kurti was Prime Minister of Kosovo. Following a motion of no-confidence, he claimed that he was overthrown with your help. What was your contribution to this, Mr. Grenell?
Listen, I won’t look at this. These are matters for the people of Kosovo. This is nothing more than the United States having the ability to determine the U.S. policy and the United States Embassy, the State Department, the National Security Council, The White House, the U.S. government were united in that we don’t want to waste our taxpayers money and that we are not obliged to give funds to countries that have policies that can take our support to waste. So, we had a very simple policy and this: if there are tariffs or reciprocity by any government in Kosovo, we wouldn’t be able to offer our financial support, because we believed this would be wasted. This had nothing to do with Mr. Kurti or any other government. It was the policy of the U.S. government to suspend our support until Kosovo had policies that were damaging itself. So, we were in no way involved on who is in government. We were adamant in our policy that we would not waste our funds. I find it very shocking for people to expect taxpayer funds from the United States regardless of their policy and this is not something that the Trump administration does.
You would not have cooperated with Kurti until he wouldn’t lift the tariff. So he could not come to the United States, at The White House, without lifting it … ?
Albin Kurti had many chances to work with the U.S. government and he decided he doesn’t want that, because he had a policy that was against our policy. He could have tried to go forward and to say that his policy was better. I will not take this any further. This is all I will say about Kurti.
People in Kosovo have different expectations. Can you tell us what should be expect on June 27?
I think you should only expect talks on economic issues. There are many rumors about these talks and people that don’t know pretend they know and they are confusing the people and I really hope that the public in Kosovo, and in Serbia, and Europe, understand that they should only listen to people that know what they are talking about, because there are some reports and some selfish commentators who pretend to know what is going on. I have been perfectly clear with everyone involved that the United States strongly believe that the 20-year-old fight between Kosovo and Serbia can be solved only through economic normalisation, new jobs for the youth and a growing economy … The reason why political issues have not been solved for 20 years is that you were not focused on those that need to benefit from economic normalisation. Many young people are fleeing the region and are going to Germany or Hungary or the Netherlands, because they feel that there is no hope in Kosovo. This will not be solved by pushing immediately for a normalisation. This is also largely a problem for Europe. There are hundreds of people who say that the Americans and the Europeans are not on the same page.
But Lajcak said this in Prishtina today.
Whoever said that, you should not be listening, because it is not true. I have coordinated on many occasions with the French national security advisor, Emmanuel Bonne, and with the German national security advisor, Jan Hecker. They both know about the limited role of the United States. Our limited role is to push for economic normalisation, to offer aid for new jobs, to offer aid to facilitate some political issues. Anyone who predicts political issues or claims that we will be discussing difficult political issues next week, is wrong. My vision, and I have discussed this with the French and the German advisors, has two steps. The first step is economic normalisation. I don’t know how many times the United States and the Trump administration have said. People must listen. We are focused on economic normalisation. We are trying to create trust on these issues. This is why it is exceptionally important to conclude the agreement on airlines, railways and roads. This is how trade develops.
This is the core of the new agreement: railways, the highway and airlines, right?
Correct. At the same time, the European road for Kosovo and Serbia toward European integration is completely led by Europe but this cannot be done without achieving economic normalisation first. This is the standpoint and the vision of the United States. We stand firmly behind efforts to resolve issues that have been delayed for 20 years … The people need to see a growing economy in order to move to talks.
So, it is very important for people to understand and we have said this is not developing news, this is not news. We are focused on the economy and this is the only thing we will be discussing in Washington. The French know this, the Germans know this, and they have approved, because the second step, which will take some time. You won’t be able to talk about political issues until you have progress in the economy, until people see jobs and this takes a long time. This is a direct blow to rumors that the Trump administration wants a quick deal. This is absolutely wrong, this was never part of the equation. We have no timelines. We have never asked for quick deals. Albin Kurti said this all the time and he also said that we want territorial exchange. I am telling you that we will not be discussing these difficult political issues. The focus of the United States is on economic normalisation. Airlines, railways and border issues. Getting to the table to discuss these matters is the focus. For this reason, the French and the German understand fully that when we move to the economic part and this will take some time, when new jobs are created, when the economy improves, then you can start talking about political issues and this is when the Europeans will be in the lead.
So, you will cooperate closely with the Europeans on political issues?
Listen there are two different phases. The United States are focused on the economic phase. All political issues are European issues. That comes second. That will not be successful and the vision that we share with the French and the Germans is that you cannot be successful in political issues without creating jobs for the youth and without creating economic normalisation. How can you pretend to reach a final agreement, when borders are not open and when there are no flights between Prishtina and Belgrade for the business community to achieve economic normalisation? We are focused on this. Let me say that as part of this economic focus, with the aim of stimulating economic growth, one of the things that I have discussed with Chancellor Merkel several times and I have discussed this with two national security advisors is that I believe the Europeans should have been doing this already with the aim of supporting economic normalisation, the first step. We are working on the economic step. Part of the first step for economic normalisation is for Europeans to grant visas so that businesses can grow. How can a construction business or an engineering firm or any other business that wants to expand beyond Kosovo? They need training in Germany and other countries, they need business development, they need visas, and this is what we have asked for to start with the small things first. Again, do not say that we want to lift all visas. We are trying to do small things first and to start slowly. We have pushed the Europeans to think about the economic visas for business people, so that this can help in the first step.
Have you discussed this with them?
Yes, I have raised this issue many times and I am still pushing them to offer support in the economic aspect by offering visas for certain business sectors. Tourist visas are for all, but to start with specific visas for businesses at the same time that the United States are working on economic development. The Europeans are also working on economic development. We are leading the first phase, they will be leading the second phase.
Are we going to see the second step before November?
You are making an impossible question and you’re not listening to what I said. The second step cannot begin without the first step being successful first. Mutual recognition cannot be successful if you don’t have a growing economy and growing businesses. The Europeans should be in the lead on this because this is part of Europe. The same goes for political issues, we are not involved in this. We have made it very clear. We are not involved, this is totally Europe. We have made it clear to the French and the Germans that when the economy is back on track, as soon as we have agreements on airlines, railways and landlines, as soon as we businesses growing, then it will be easier for the Europeans to work on political issues.
Will President Trump be part of the meeting at The White House?
At this point there is no plan for him to take part in the meeting. It will be Robert O’Brien and Rick Grenell.
Thaci: Meeting in Washington, a turning point in history (media)
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci told a press conference in Prishtina on Thursday that the meeting between Kosovo and Serbia delegations at The White House on June 27 is a turning point in history and an opportunity to begin the very difficult but necessary process of achieving peace.
“We are going to Washington with stable principles. We think this meeting is a historic turning point and an unrepeatable opportunity to begin the very difficult but necessary process of achieving peace. The Kosovo delegation goes well-prepared to represent Kosovo’s interests with dignity. Same as in the past, Kosovo is on the right side of history. Our country is blessed to have the support of the United States. We will pave to mutual recognition, to inter-state relations and to membership in international organisations. This is why I have full confidence that the meeting in Washington will contribute to the domestic and international consolidation of Kosovo’s statehood,” Thaci said.
Thaci also said that “Kosovo goes to Washington under its state flag and this is the territorial integrity of the Republic of Kosovo”. “Any assumption or speculation is unnecessary. Kosovo’s delegation has been invited to The White House, which is the origin of the freedom and independence our country and this is why the United States have the unwavering support of Kosovo’s institutions”.
Thaci said Kosovo’s leaders will speak with one voice at the meeting with the Serbian delegation in Washington. Asked who will be part of Kosovo’s delegation and who will lead the process, Thaci said the competencies provided by the Constitution are very clear. “We will speak with one voice. We will respect the will of the people to have inter-institutional coordination. Kosovo has heads of state institutions, legitimate and legal representatives. Competencies are very clear and in line with the Constitution of Kosovo. We will work to have close coordination,” he said. “To remove your dilemmas and those of the public, I feel good to be on the side of Prime Minister Hoti. There is no dilemma in this respect”.
Thaci said the European Union is entering the process with a major handicap as it has not yet granted visa liberalisation to Kosovo. He said that regardless of this and skeptical statements about the meeting in Washington, Kosovo has a European future.
Commenting on the Paris Summit scheduled for the third week of July, Thaci said they would cooperate closely for the meeting to be successful and said he believes EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak too will attend the meeting. “The European Union and Lajcak should be more focused on the substance they will present rather than be concerned with the meeting in Washington,” he said.
Hoti on Washington meeting: I speak on Kosovo’s behalf (media)
Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on Thursday that he will speak on Kosovo’s behalf at the meeting with the Serbian delegation in Washington on June 27.
Hoti said he has positive expectations from the meeting in Washington. “The agenda of the meeting in Washington will be made clear. Expectations are very positive. We are going there for an agreement on mutual recognition. Kosovo is represented by its Prime Minister and by the delegation. I will speak on Kosovo’s behalf because the competencies are very clear in this respect,” he said.
Hoti said he will ask for the formation of a parliamentary committee on the dialogue. “I will invite the opposition parties to assume their supervisory roles. I will call the leaders of the opposition wherever they find appropriate to inform them on the process of dialogue. With full transparency during the process, we will be successful. I will send them invitations at the time and place of their choosing,” he said.
Maas: Kosovo, Serbia, European perspective, they need solution with EU (DW)
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the news agency on Thursday that countries of the Western Balkans, especially Kosovo and Serbia, must agree their solutions with the European Union if they want a European perspective.
“All countries of the Western Balkans want a European perspective. If they want this, then political solutions, especially those in the Kosovo – Serbia conflict, must be solutions with the European Union … I am very confident that the EU will play an important role in the process, especially in the current difficult situation,” Maas said.
“If the Western Balkans wants to join Europe, it needs to conduct dialogue with the European Union primarily. I believe people in the Western Balkans know this and that the European Union will strengthen its commitment,” he said.
Maas also said: “we need to contribute to a political solution in the Western Balkans, especially for the Kosovo – Serbia conflict. These countries need to agree their solutions with the European Union if they want a European perspective”.
Kupchan: White House meeting paves way for final agreement (RFE/Klan)
Charles Kupchan, member of the Council on Foreign Relations and professor at Georgetown University, spoke to RFE about the upcoming meeting between Kosovo and Serbia in Washington saying he would be surprised if it will result in an agreement but at the same time that he expects something to come out of the meeting.
“These kinds of achievements don’t happen overnight. I think this is particularly true for Kosovo and Serbia where a lot of homework has to be done, prepare the internal population, include the parliament, and create internal support for agreement. This is more to prepare the setting to move forward, but we will see,” he said.
“I expect there will at least be something there. It would be strange to organise such a high-level meeting and everyone return home without having anything to show for. I expect at leader some tangible progress on economic issues and later a roadmap or timeline for what will happen in the future.”
Hoti to EU ambassadors: Territory is non-negotiable (media)
Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said in a meeting with EU ambassadors in Prishtina on Thursday that Kosovo’s territory is non-negotiable and that a future agreement with Serbia will be in line with Kosovo’s constitution.
Hoti also said the Kosovo Government has a structured approach on the process of dialogue and the main objective is mutual recognition between the two countries.
Kurti: Even pondering new borders is insanity and call to conflict (media)
Vetevendosje leader and former Kosovo Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, said on Thursday that even pondering about new borders in the Balkans region is insanity and a call for new conflict. “It is impossible, it is not a solution for peace – it is a call for conflict,” he said.
Kurti argued that Kosovo’s biggest problem is corruption and also Serbia’s territorial tendencies.
Veseli: Whoever leads the dialogue, must defend Kosovo (media)
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Kadri Veseli said on Thursday that whoever leads the dialogue with Serbia, must defend Kosovo and respect the Constitution. In an interview to TV Dukagjini, Veseli argued that there is no decision by the Constitutional Court on who must lead the dialogue with Serbia.
“When we were in government, we gave room to the opposition too to lead the dialogue. Whoever leads the dialogue must make sure that they don’t damage Kosovo,” he said.
Veseli said his party maintains its position against eventual border changes between Kosovo and Serbia. “We have a written document that we have sent to all political parties on this matter,” he said.
Veseli also said that he usually does not reject invitations to meetings between political leaders but that the invitation from Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti was not serious. “We don’t reject invitations especially when they involve the country’s interests … This is no way a revenge against the Democratic League of Kosovo. My policy is not based on revanchism. But invitations are not made from TV studios. Hoti’s invitation was not serious,” he added.
LDK’s Mustafa: Agreement with Serbia might be reached this year (KTV)
Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa said in an interview to the TV station on Thursday that he believes an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia could be reached this year. “If work continues with this pace then the agenda will be set for this period of time and yesterday when we talked with Mr. Lajcak he too believed that this will be achieved by the end of this year, without any promises. He said it can be achieved,” he said.
Mustafa said that during negotiations for the formation of the Hoti government they did not discuss the post of Kosovo President. He said this issue could have become an obstacle in the talks with the Haradinaj-led Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) and Limaj’s NISMA. Mustafa suggested that a solution must be found to the issue and that “this could take Kosovo to new elections early next year”.
Mustafa said the Hoti government must find ways how to communicate with opposition parties on the dialogue with Serbia. He argued that the government cannot and must not enter the process without the opposition. “Hoti will present the platform on the dialogue next week and he will call on the opposition to take part in the process,” he added.
Mustafa said Kosovo must never accept ideas for a mini-Schengen agreement with Serbia. “I understand that it might sound attractive to someone but for us it would be devastating. We cannot accept such an agreement. Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania might accept it in a way; Serbia might find it attractive because it would suit them the most, but it would not suit us in any way because we are not in borders with any European country. We need to go through Albania, Macedonia or Serbia to get to Europe, and then we would be transferring Kosovo’s sovereignty to the borders of these countries,” he argued.
Mustafa also said he believes President Hashim Thaci has backed down from ideas for eventual land swaps with Serbia. He said they told Thaci in a meeting that the LDK would not take part in a dialogue that discusses territories.
OSCE to collect in Kosovo ballots for Serbian elections (RFE/Koha)
The OSCE mission in Kosovo told Radio Free Europe that on 21 June, the election day in Serbia, it will collect ballots in Kosovo.
“This operation is in line with the past practices and modalities carried out in 2017,” the OSCE said. It added that the request for support was received from Belgrade authorities and that agreement has been reached with Kosovo authorities.
Hoxhaj: Lavrov visit, propaganda campaign against Kosovo (media)
Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) senior member and former Kosovo Foreign Minister, Enver Hoxhaj, took to Twitter on Thursday to comment on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Serbia.
“Lavrov visits #Serbia to endorse Vucic ahead of elections, who intends to copy Russian authoritarian model and Putinism in Serbia. This also served as a propagandist campaign against #Kosovo, ahead of the meeting in Washington on June 27,” Hoxhaj tweeted.