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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, June 25, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• Hoti from Brussels: Dialogue has no alternative (RTK)
• Mustafa: Let us sit together once again prior to meeting Vucic (RTK)
• Hoti: Government engaged in advancing democratic processes (RTK)
• Osmani hosts a meeting with Quint Ambassadors, discuss latest developments (RTK)
• Bildt not surprised if efforts to shut down Specialist Chambers intensify (Koha)
• 106 patients with Covid-19 are being treated at Infectious Disease Clinic (RTK)
• Der Standard: Thaci and Grenell were about to reach a ‘dirty deal’ (Koha)
• Scandalous: The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office violated work regulations, professional ethics and its own laws (Indeksonline)
• Association of KLA Veterans: We will ask abrogation of KSC Law in August (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

• EU expects Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to resume in July (B92, Tanjug, RTS)
• EC head says will meet Kosovo’s Hoti, Serbia’s Vucic as planned (N1)
• Drecun: They wanted to “trade” in Washington to be excluded from indictments (RTS)
• Two new cases of Covid-19 infection in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)
• Kandic: I expect the indictments to be confirmed, the first on the list is the Drenica group (N1, FoNet, KoSSev)
• Former Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Vukcevic on Thaci and Veseli’s indictment (KoSSev)
• KLA graffiti and robbed house in Serb villages in Istok municipality (Kosovo-online)
• Stefanovic: Kosovo issue can’t be resolved by agreement of those indicted for war crimes and autocrats (Danas)
• “That was not fight for freedom, but brutal attack against Serbs” (RTS, Radio KIM)
• Judah: Thaci’s legs have been cut off, Vucic has no equal with whom to talk (KoSSev)
• Ahmetaj: I don’t expect resignations or protests (KoSSev)
• Petritsch doubts US success in Belgrade – Pristina talks; Sooner or later elections in Kosovo (N1, Tanjug, B92)
• Rakic and Popovic discussed strengthening of cooperation (TV Most)

Opinion:

• Two Decades on, Kosovo’s Guerrilla Boss Thaci May Finally Face Trial (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovan president’s war crimes indictment puts West in a bind (Politico)
• Presentation of Balkan barometer 2020: The shape of things to come (Regional Cooperation Council)

International:

• Kosovo scraps White House talks with Serbia after leader indicted (Reuters)
• Kosovo: War Crimes Indictment Advances Justice (HRW)
• Thaci Charges ‘Timed’ to Prevent Amnesty Deal in Washington (Balkan Insight)
• Five Things Kosovo Must Know Before Doing a Deal with Serbia (Balkan Insight)
• Kosovo president Hashim Thaçi indicted on war crimes charges (The Guardian)
• EU-backed court wrecks US plan for Kosovo summit (EUobserver)
• Telekom Srbija places 155 mln euro bid for Kosovo’s IPKO – Pristina mayor (SeeNews.com)

Humanitarian/Development:

• COVID-19’s far reaching impact on global drug abuse (news.un.org)
• WHO to N1: Classification of Covid-19 cases up to national authorities (N1)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • Hoti from Brussels: Dialogue has no alternative (RTK)
  • Mustafa: Let us sit together once again prior to meeting Vucic (RTK)
  • Hoti: Government engaged in advancing democratic processes (RTK)
  • Osmani hosts a meeting with Quint Ambassadors, discuss latest developments (RTK)
  • Bildt not surprised if efforts to shut down Specialist Chambers intensify (Koha)
  • 106 patients with Covid-19 are being treated at Infectious Disease Clinic (RTK)
  • Der Standard: Thaci and Grenell were about to reach a ‘dirty deal’ (Koha)
  • Scandalous: The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office violated work regulations, professional ethics and its own laws (Indeksonline)
  • Association of KLA Veterans: We will ask abrogation of KSC Law in August (Koha)

Serbian Language Media:

  • EU expects Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to resume in July (B92, Tanjug, RTS)
  • EC head says will meet Kosovo’s Hoti, Serbia’s Vucic as planned (N1)
  • Drecun: They wanted to “trade” in Washington to be excluded from indictments (RTS)
  • Two new cases of Covid-19 infection in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)
  • Kandic: I expect the indictments to be confirmed, the first on the list is the Drenica group (N1, FoNet, KoSSev) 
  • Former Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Vukcevic on Thaci and Veseli’s indictment (KoSSev)
  • KLA graffiti and robbed house in Serb villages in Istok municipality (Kosovo-online)
  • Stefanovic: Kosovo issue can’t be resolved by agreement of those indicted for war crimes and autocrats (Danas)
  • “That was not fight for freedom, but brutal attack against Serbs” (RTS, Radio KIM)
  • Judah: Thaci’s legs have been cut off, Vucic has no equal with whom to talk (KoSSev)
  • Ahmetaj: I don’t expect resignations or protests (KoSSev)
  • Petritsch doubts US success in Belgrade – Pristina talks; Sooner or later elections in Kosovo (N1, Tanjug, B92)
  • Rakic and Popovic discussed strengthening of cooperation (TV Most)

Opinion:

  • Two Decades on, Kosovo’s Guerrilla Boss Thaci May Finally Face Trial (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovan president’s war crimes indictment puts West in a bind (Politico)
  • Presentation of Balkan barometer 2020: The shape of things to come (Regional Cooperation Council) 

International:

  • Kosovo scraps White House talks with Serbia after leader indicted (Reuters)
  • Kosovo: War Crimes Indictment Advances Justice (HRW)
  • Thaci Charges ‘Timed’ to Prevent Amnesty Deal in Washington (Balkan Insight)
  • Five Things Kosovo Must Know Before Doing a Deal with Serbia (Balkan Insight)
  • Kosovo president Hashim Thaçi indicted on war crimes charges (The Guardian)
  • EU-backed court wrecks US plan for Kosovo summit (EUobserver)
  • Telekom Srbija places 155 mln euro bid for Kosovo’s IPKO – Pristina mayor (SeeNews.com)

Humanitarian/Development: 

  • COVID-19’s far reaching impact on global drug abuse (news.un.org)
  • WHO to N1: Classification of Covid-19 cases up to national authorities (N1)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

Hoti from Brussels: Dialogue has no alternative (RTK)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo said today in Brussels that the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia has no alternative

“I believe that issues related to justice, such as yesterday’s decision, should not be commented on, and I believe that they should be completely respected. I believe that we have now in Kosovo an institutional prudence to deal and overcome any situation,” he said.

Asked why he has not travelled to Washington, and what forced him to annul the visit, Hoti said that he consulted U.S. Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell and proposed postponement of this meeting for some other day, due to the Wednesday’s developments. 

Mustafa: Let us sit together once again prior to meeting Vucic (RTK)

Isa Mustafa, leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) spoke about the annulment of the visit of Kosovo delegation to Washington.

“There is no confusion in LDK whether the Prime Minister should go to Washington or not.

LDK strongly believes in the U.S.

The state delegation left for Washington with the best intention, however it was cut in half while still on the plane.

One goes to Washington with the support of the coalition parties and opposition, as well as all state institutions, not only with the conviction on who should lead the delegation. It is miserable to think and write that  Mr. Hoti as Prime Minister has now the chance to go and lead the delegation, since Thaci is not due to the Specialist Chambers.

This is not a matter of Mr. Thaci or Mr. Hoti, but of Kosovo state.

Our cooperation with the U.S. and the EU cannot and should not be connected with processes and procedures of the Specialist Chambers of the Special Court,” Mustafa wrote.

“In the created situation, prior to meeting with Vucic, there is a need to meet once again among ourselves, to sit all together and discuss, find a way and sustainable solution. Let us ensure the functioning of all state institutions, because without their normal functioning, it is illusionary to think that we can move forward with agreement,” Mustafa wrote. 

Hoti: Government engaged in advancing democratic processes (RTK)

The Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti met during his visit to Brussels with head of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister. They discussed the process of visa liberalization, and European integration process of Kosovo.

During the meeting, PM Hoti also discussed the dialogue process and the most recent political developments. He expressed Kosovo’s pro-western orientation.

Hoti said on this occasion that the government of Kosovo is engaged in advancing the democratic processes in the country, deepening regional cooperation among the Western Balkans countries, in function of the European integration processes. 

PM Hoti, during his official visit to Brussels, met also with the head of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister. According to the government’s announcement, during the meeting, Prime Minister Hoti informed him about the priorities of the government of Kosovo, such as the visa liberalization process, the management of pandemics caused by COVID 19, the economic recovery package, and the commitment of the Government of Kosovo. in strengthening the rule of law.

Osmani hosts a meeting with Quint Ambassadors, discuss latest developments (RTK)

Kosovo’s Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani hosted a meeting with the Ambassadors of the Quint countries today. 

“Had a productive meeting with Quint Ambassadors and head of the EU Office in Kosovo Nataliya Apostolova to discuss the latest political developments. I thanked them all for their continued support to our country and to all institutions,” Osmani wrote on her Twitter account. 

Bildt not surprised if efforts to shut down Specialist Chambers intensify (Koha)

Carl Bildt Co-Chair of the European Council on Foreign Relations asked through Twitter Kosovo’s PM Avdullah Hoti why did Special Prosecutor suddenly decide to make his indictment public.

“Why did the Special Prosecutor decide to now suddenly make public his indictment against Kosovo President Thaci? Perhaps he had indications that Thaci was trying to mobilize the White House to close down the Special Court. I wouldn’t be surprised if such efforts will now intensify,” Sweden’s Former Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt wrote.

106 patients with Covid-19 are being treated at Infectious Disease Clinic (RTK)

106 patients affected with COVID-19 are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Clinic.

According to the information provided by UCCK, the condition of patients with COVID-19 who are being treated at the Infectious Diseases Clinic is as follows:

46 cases are being treated with oxygen therapy and intensive care, of which seven are in serious condition. At the Intensive Care Unit, six cases are being treated, three cases are in a very serious condition, and are being treated with oxygen therapy and intensive care, while three cases are in critical condition assisted by respirators.

Today, 6 positive Covid-19 cases in stable condition are released for self-isolation.

Der Standard: Thaci and Grenell were about to reach a ‘dirty deal’ (Koha)

The well-known Austrian daily, Der Standard, writes in an analysis that the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, was trying to reach a dirty agreement. Journalist Adelheid Woelfl wrote that normally, Thaci’s resignation is expected now.

“It is interesting that speculation has been circulating in Kosovo and in diplomatic circles in recent days about allegations against Thaci that the president is willing to enter into a ‘dirty deal’ with Trump envoy Richard Grenell, who works for Serbia and Kosovo, only to avoid charges before the court. Due to the history of the war, Thaci has been blackmailed for many years. Grenell, on the other hand, is inclined to reach an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo – much to the displeasure of the EU, which has slowed down – to show that Trump is a ‘dealmaker’ and thus win the post of Secretary of State in a second term.”

“Thaci has repeatedly called for a change of borders before leaving for Washington. The so-called territorial exchange, which Thaci and Vucic agreed on a few years ago, where Serb-populated municipalities in northern Kosovo would belong to Serbia, and Albanian-populated municipalities in Serbia would go to Kosovo, are at odds with the Constitution of Kosovo and international law,” Woelfl reportedly wrote.

Scandalous: The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office violated work regulations, professional ethics and its own laws (Indeksonline)

Yesterday’s announcement by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, on the day President Thaçi left for the United States, is being seen by all as a political move that undermined the dialogue in Washington. This announcement is being interpreted by local and international analysts as unusual and highly biased, in a completely unofficial language, where the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office only indicates that an indictment has been proposed, but legally that indictment has no legal value without being confirmed by the Pre-Trial Judge.

However, the publication of this notice is beyond any professional ethics.

In a lawsuit, the first step is for the prosecutor to propose the indictment to the Pre-Trial Judge.

The second step is to notify the defendant of the prosecutor’s allegations and to notify the party he is scheduled to defend. In this case, in addition to the violation of legal procedures and violation of the regulation, there was also a completely biased approach and arbitrary decision by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office to make the public announcement, without accepting any argument from the defense and prior to confirmation of the indictment.

After these two actions, the third step should be to hold a hearing of the Pre-Trial Judge for confirmation or dismissal of the indictment.

While, the fourth step has two ways and if the prosecutor’s indictment is rejected by the judge because it is not supported, then that case is closed and not made public. However, if the indictment is confirmed by the pre-trial judge, then that indictment is formalized and presented in full to the defendant and his defense counsel together with all the accompanying measures.

Only after all these steps should an indictment be made public, and in this case the scale of a trial begins, with a process similar to the proceedings of all Kosovo courts.

As is easily confirmed by an ordinary reading of the Regulation by which the Office of the Specialized Prosecutor and the Specialized Chambers operate, in this case we had an exceeding of the procedure based on the competencies of a prosecutor. We also had a very selective approach, deliberately separating from them only two names from the entire subject submitted. But, this is also the political pressure of the prosecutor who goes to the Preliminary Procedure Judge to confirm the indictment prepared by him and if we analyze the momentum of the publication of that announcement, then it is also an impact on an important political process, such as the dialogue in Washington, as the case was reportedly filed about two months ago.

The Specialized Prosecutor’s Office in this case took on many roles, including the role of Judge of the Procedure, the role of the Office of Public Relations, the role of the Office of the Administrator and even the role of the political analyst, writing a public notice only with political arguments, without any legal argument.

The third paragraph of this announcement is also a violation of fundamental rights, because it prejudices the guilt of two former KLA leaders and this is also a violation of the Constitution of Kosovo.

With the publication of this announcement, using such political language, the Office of the Specialized Prosecutor has precisely violated the Rules of Procedure and Evidence before the Specialized Chambers of Kosovo.

In this case, rule no. 6 (Non-compliance with the Regulation), which states that any non-compliance with the Regulation which causes substantial legal injustice shall be mentioned immediately, but not later than ten (10) days after being notified of non-compliance. Also, according to this rule, the panel may consider such disrespect proprio motu, as well as take appropriate measures to guarantee the integrity and fairness of the process.

But it has also violated Rules 81 (2) and 88 (1), where Rule 81 in paragraph 2 states that a party, which during the initial or subsequent proceedings requests in front of the Specialized Chambers, or the Administrator, a change of ordered protective measures: (a) submits a request to the panel which has ordered the protective measures; or (b) if that panel is no longer engaged with the initial process, the panel engaged with the subsequent process. 

In this case we had a public notice without any defense measures being ordered and without the party being notified.

Whereas, rule 88 (1), which clarifies the public status of the indictment, clearly states that only after confirmation by the pre-trial judge, the indictment becomes public.

Association of KLA Veterans: We will ask abrogation of KSC Law in August (Koha)

Head of the Association of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Veterans, Hysni Gucati, in an interview with KTV’s late evening news show Interaktiv said that they will ask abrogation of the Law on Kosovo Specialist Chambers in August, when the mandate of this Court is expected to be renewed. 

“In August it becomes five years since the establishment of the Specialist Chambers, and its mandate is expected to be renewed. We will ask modalities how to stop the Court’s mandate from being renewed or to abrogate the Law. We will also discuss with legal experts, and we have an English company helping us. We will sit and talk with parliamentary groups. We will not collect signatures because we will sit and discuss directly with the parliamentary groups,” Gucati said.  

He said that they have not expected filing of an indictment against Kosovo president Hashim Thaci and PDK leader Kadri Veseli, because as he said, they were not on the list of those summoned for questioning by the SPO.

“Based on the list we possess, 64 percent out of more than 200 people summoned for questioning were interviewed as witnesses, whereas others as suspects. Thaci was never summoned, we have asked him, and he said that he was never summoned. At least we do not have the information,” Gucati stated. 

He stressed the indictment against Thaci harms the reputation of Kosovo. The head of the KLA Association said that they are very interested to solve the political killings, adding that also Thaci and Veseli want these killings to be solved. 

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

EU expects Belgrade-Pristina dialogue to resume in July (B92, Tanjug, RTS)

EU spokesman Peter Stano said today that the EU expects the dialogue on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina to continue in July in Brussels, reported Serbian media.

“Meeting table is ready; the dates can be agreed. It is not up to us to choose with whom we will talk. It is up to Kosovo to choose who will best represent its interests in the current situation,” Stano said.

He assessed at the press conference in Brussels that the latest developments regarding the indictment against the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, do not shift the focus of the EU from the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, which is taking place in Brussels.

“When it comes to the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, then we are talking about a dialogue mediated by the EU. That dialogue has no alternative. We have promises from both sides that the dialogue will continue, and we expect it to be in July,” Stano pointed out.

He emphasized that both sides knew that there was a great need for the continuation of the dialogue, both for the benefit of the people and for the progress on the path of approaching the EU.

“The European future of the people in Kosovo and Serbia leads through a dialogue mediated by the EU,” Stano said.

He added that the EU expected the Kosovo authorities to abide by their obligations under the rule of law and the mandate of the Special Prosecutor’s Office and to determine who will represent them in the dialogue.

“Apart from the dialogue with Belgrade, the Kosovo authorities must do a lot to mitigate the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, but also to dedicate all their energy and attention to economic, health and social issues,” Stano concluded.

EC head says will meet Kosovo’s Hoti, Serbia’s Vucic as planned (N1)

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission (EC) President, announced on Thursday she would meet with Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti and Serbia’ President Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels, as planned, N1 reported.

She tweeted she would talk to Hoti on Thursday and with Vucic on Friday morning.

The meetings in Brussels come amid the announcement that the war crimes indictments against Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci and nine other people were ready, pending the pre-trial judge approval.

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

Drecun: They wanted to “trade” in Washington to be excluded from indictments (RTS)

Chairman of the Serbian National Assembly Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun told RTS that indictments proposals against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli were announced now because the Specialist Prosecution has learnt they would try to “do a trade” during their stay in Washington to be excluded from the indictments.

Drecun added he has verified information that a massive cover-up of the crimes against Serbs committed by KLA was done after 2000. He also said that the Specialist Prosecution was the target of attacks by the former KLA members on two lines.

“One line included a very strong campaign to revoke the law on which the Specialist Prosecution and the Specialist Chambers were established and to see how the international community could react to it. They were also ready to involve extremists, nationalists, so-called KLA veterans in order to back up their requests. Once they realized it won’t work it seems they took on another path”, Drecun said.

According to him, then they started to force the story about resolution at the Kosovo Assembly for negotiations with Belgrade, stories about genocide and war compensation, establishment of a museum of genocide in order to prepare a ground for a political trade.

“I think that the Specialist Prosecution put an end to the attempts of Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli to trade in line with the principle “we won’t prosecute Serbian criminals, you cannot prosecute our KLA terrorists either,” Drecun said.

He also opined that Specialist Prosecution has decided to announce the indictments proposals against Thaci and Veseli at this moment “in order to cut off maneuvering space to anyone, who wanted to accept such a trade”.

Two new cases of Covid-19 infection in Serb areas in Kosovo (Kosovo-online)

On the territory covered by Clinical Hospital Center in Mitrovica North over the last 24 hours two new cases of Covid-19 infection were registered, epidemiologist Desanka Novakovic confirmed to Kosovo-online.

According to her, these are the first cases since June 10, when the last case of Covid-19 infection in the Serb populated areas in Kosovo was registered.

“The situation is currently stable, one new case was registered in Mitrovica North and is currently being treated at Infectious Ward of the hospital with stable condition, while the other case is from central Kosovo,” Novakovic said

She urged citizens to adhere to preventive measures including maintaining physical distance, wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding larger gatherings.  

Kandic: I expect the indictments to be confirmed, the first on the list is the Drenica group (N1, FoNet, KoSSev) 

The founder of the Humanitarian Law Center Natasa Kandic told the FoNet news agency that it was strange that a specialized panel published the news that the indictment against Kosovo President Hashim Thaci had been sent for confirmation, because they had been very careful so far, quotes portal KoSSev. 

Kandic said that it was not the practice so far, and that this was a specific political moment before the meeting of the delegations of Belgrade and Pristina in Washington.

Kandic said that she expected the indictment to be confirmed against the highest representatives of the KLA and that the Drenica group would be the first on the list.

She thinks that the public in Serbia must prepare for the fact that the trials will not be focused on organ trafficking and the “Yellow House”, but that the focus of the prosecution will be on what was the least known. She added that these were, first of all, crimes against Albanians, and then crimes against Serbs, and they will refer to crimes in Gjakovica, Prizren, Suva Reka and Pristina, and the least space would be devoted to shed light on the fate of the missing.

She said that it was not a surprise that the indictment included the founders of the KLA, who are mentioned in Dick Marty’s report, but added that it was the first time that someone was mentioned, who was marked by Marty as the head of the Drenica group.

Former Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor Vukcevic on Thaci and Veseli’s indictment (KoSSev)

”I’m pleasantly surprised. I was happy to hear the news! I believed that this would happen. We should now wait for the indictment to be confirmed,” the former Serbian War Crimes Special Prosecutor, Vladimir Vukcevic told KoSSev regarding the news that the indictments against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli were filed with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers.

In a statement for KoSSev, Vukcevic reminded of the merits of the Serbian Special Prosecutor’s Office during the investigation of the ”Yellow House”, i.e. alleged KLA war crimes, before former Council of Europe Rapporteur, Dick Marty submitted his now famous report – after which the Specialist Chambers were formed.

He did not want to comment in detail on Kadri Veseli, emphasizing that the Serbian investigation was focused primarily on the clues that allegedly led to Hashim Thaci.

”I believed that the prosecution would initiate proceedings against Thaci. He was our main target,” he said.

Vukcevic said that Thaci is a man who enjoyed ”certain sympathies of the Americans” after the war, adding that he also ”enjoyed American protection” at the time.

He recalled a trip he made to Albania with his associates, attempting to get the support of the Albanian judicial authorities for the investigations that were conducted in that country at that time. Vukcevic also reminded of an unwillingness of the Albanian side to cooperate, as well as the American side understanding on the other. 

”When I presented our evidence and findings to the then US legal adviser at the embassy in Belgrade, Sam Nazzaro, it caused a great deal of excitement,” Vukcevic said, adding that after that they had American support to investigate war crimes.

He also praised the work of the American prosecutor Clint Williamson, whom he knew. According to Vukcevic, after Dick Marty’s report, Williamson, as the chief prosecutor of the European Union Special Team for Crimes in Kosovo since 1999, also investigated.

Although Williamson claimed back in 2014 that he and his team did not find evidence to file an indictment for organ trafficking, he also revealed that his findings ”completely match” with Marty’s.

”I was the first to come to that with my team,” Vukcevic said.

On the other hand, he also called for caution, as there are four more months until the six-month- legal deadline ends, which runs from April 24 for the pre-trial judge to confirm the indictment or decide not to do so.

Speaking about the possibility of the judge rejecting the indictment, Vukcevic said that it could happen, while expressing the belief that it would be confirmed because the prosecution had to have obtained serious evidence to even draw up the indictment.

See at: https://bit.ly/3i0H6WX

KLA graffiti and robbed house in Serb villages in Istok municipality (Kosovo-online)

Incidents directed against the Serbs in Kosovo continue, Kosovo-online portal reports, The portal said the two Serb-owned houses in the villages of Ljubozda and Dubrava were targeted. KLA graffiti were inscribed on the house of Jovan Ristic, returnee in the village of Ljubozda, while the house of Radomir Pumpalovic in the village of Dubrava was burglarized.

Jovan Ristic returned to the village in 2017, and his house was targeted by thieves several times, while no perpetrator was found. His entire house was sprayed with KLA graffiti and according to the portal the incident took place after the indictment proposal against Hashim Thaci was announced. In the meantime the house of Radomir Pumaplovic was ransacked and it is not known yet what has been stolen.  

There are around 20 Serbs living in these two villages. They feel distressed over frequent attacks against them and their properties, the portal added. 

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric reacting to these incidents said that the terror against the Serbs in Kosovo continues. He requested responsible authorities and representatives of the international community to urgently identify the perpetrators of these incidents and “put an end to the wave of violence against the Serbs in Metohija which obviously aims to terrorize, intimidate and expel them”.

Stefanovic: Kosovo issue can’t be resolved by agreement of those indicted for war crimes and autocrats (Danas)

Deputy leader of the Serbian opposition Freedom and Justice Party (SSP) Borko Stefanovic said today after the indictments proposals against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli were announced that a question arises on how Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic would have credible talks, Danas daily reports.

He also asked how the US administration can conduct talks about an unknown plan to resolve the Kosovo issue with a man indicted of committing war crimes on one side and with a proven autocrat without free media, election and assembly on the other.

He added, because of that, it came as no surprise that Thaci decided to cancel his trip to Washington.

“The justice is slow but reachable and all those responsible for the crimes would certainly be held accountable, whenever, which the indictment against Thaci also confirmed”, Stefanovic said.

According to him “only democratization and eradication of crime from Belgrade and Pristina authorities could lead to the reconciliation and resolution of the Kosovo issue”, adding, “that everybody in the international community has realized it”.

“That was not fight for freedom, but brutal attack against Serbs” (RTS, Radio KIM)

What happened in the aftermath of the conflict was not about defending Kosovo or fighting for freedom. Rather, this was a brutal attack directed at almost all of the Serbs who wanted to stay in Kosovo, Special Investigative Task Force prosecutor Clint Williamson said, Radio KIM reports. He added he hopes announced indictments would finally bring justice to the victims.

Williamson published the text on the website of Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law where he is lecturing after the Special Court for KLA crimes announced the content of the first indictments proposals against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli. Williamson recalled his conclusion from 2014, when he published preliminary findings reached during the investigation. He said then the aim of the investigation was not to attack KLA as an organization, but that it was directed against individuals.

“Nothing justifies murders of innocent people”

Williamson back then said that regardless of circumstances which have led to the conflict, nothing can justify intentional murders of innocent individuals. “Instead, this was a brutal attack directed at a significant portion of civilian populations. It was directed at almost all of the Serbs who wanted to stay in Kosovo, many of whom were elderly or infirm; at the Roma and other ethnic minorities; and it was directed at those Kosovo Albanians who opposed a small group within the KLA having a monopoly on power. In the end, this was solely about certain individuals in the KLA leadership using elements of that organization to perpetrate violence in order to obtain political power and personal wealth for themselves, not about any larger cause. And, it is as individuals that they must bear responsibility for their crimes”, Williamson said in 2014, Radio KIM reports.

“What I said in 2014 still holds true today”, Williamson added. He also asked those angry over indictments and wishing to publicly oppose it to exercise restraint.   

“These are serious allegations and the implications for those charged are likewise grave, but it is important that these accusations be addressed through a judicial process and that will follow in due course. At that point, I sincerely hope that there will be a clear resolution that delivers justice for the victims of these crimes – a critical step in allowing both Kosovo and Serbia to move forward and put this tragic period behind them”, Williamson concluded. 

Judah: Thaci’s legs have been cut off, Vucic has no equal with whom to talk (KoSSev)

”The Washington process is still moving but if Thaci is not going, I cannot see Vucic going to meet Hoti,” British journalist and publicist, Tim Judah told KoSSev. 

According to Judah, the timing of the announcement of Thaci and Veseli’s indictments may be indicative. His gut feeling says that the prosecutors were “spooked” that what might be agreed in Washington might include something that may lead to the closing of the Specialist Chambers.

According to the indictment, they are charged with ”a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture”. 

The Court’s announcement arrives just ahead of a meeting in Washington on 27 th June. 

Thaci, however, canceled his Washington trip, confirmed by both Richard Grennell and himself.

Judah said that Vucic now does not have an equal with whom to talk.

If Vucic does not go to the US on the 27th, then the Washington thing is over surely – he added. According to Judah, if Vucic sends Brnabic, as she is “the equal of Hoti”, then whatever the result of the meeting will have “much less political importance.”

”If Brnabic goes then I think whatever the result it will have much less political importance. Hoti is very weak and Brnabic is an outgoing PM,” he underlined.

If an agreement is reached in such circumstances, Judah noted, it would not be a deal between two strong leaders determined and able to “push everything through.”

When asked to comment on the indictment itself and the timing the Special Prosecutor decided to reveal Thaci and Veseli as the accused, Judah said:

”I have no proof, but my gut feeling is that the prosecutors were spooked that part of what might be agreed might include something leading to the closing of the court. That is logical but I have no proof. ”

Judah also recalled the fact that the indictments were issued as early as April.

”Also, charges were laid in April – two months ago so why did they announce now?”

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

Ahmetaj: I don’t expect resignations or protests (KoSSev)

The Special Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague announced yesterday that it submitted an indictment to the Specialized Chambers against the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, and his comrade-in-arms and party colleague, now opposition MP in the Kosovo Assembly, Kadri Veseli on April 24th.

The news greatly shocked the Kosovo public. The founder of the Center for Research, Documentation, and Publication, Nora Ahmetaj told KoSSev that this announcement will not result in the resignation of the Kosovo president. Ahmetaj also said that she does not expect protests.

Ahmetaj revealed that she was surprised by the timing of the announcement that the indictment had been submitted to the court, stressing that it came at a very unstable political moment.

On the other hand, Ahmetaj does not expect that Thaci or Veseli would resign because an indictment has been filed against them.

”I don’t believe that now is the best time, nor do I believe that President Thaci would resign now, ahead of the meeting in the United States, and the start of a new dialogue,” Ahmetaj said.

According to her, the same goes for Veseli, whose current intentions are difficult to discern.

Although the KLA Veterans’ Organization had in the past repeatedly announced protests, Ahmetaj believes that there will be no major protests.

”In recent years, several NGOs have conducted research on whether people would protest possible indictments against former KLA commanders and current politicians when it comes to war crimes, and the results suggest they would not support those protests,” she said.

Ahmetaj added that people are tired because of the way these individuals have dealt with politics in the past as well as because of numerous allegations of corruption, noting that therefore they will not get the public’s support in this form.

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

Petritsch doubts US success in Belgrade – Pristina talks; Sooner or later elections in Kosovo (N1, Tanjug, B92)

Wolfgang Petritsch, an Austrian diplomat and former European Union envoy for Kosovo, told N1 on Wednesday he doubted that the US concept for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations would be successful.

He said that “the economy is important, but how can you imagine any progress, foreign investments and jobs if there is no political compromise?”

Petritsch told N1 that Miroslav Lajcak, the EU envoy for the dialogue and other regional issues, was an experienced politician and that was about time to solve the conflict “which has been going on for too long.”

“I would look at the bright side of this story first. It’s good that the US and the EU realized something must be done. Unfortunately, the EU facilitated dialogue stopped. Now, the EU has the special envoy Miroslav Lajcak, a very experienced politician with competences,” he said.

Petritsch added he doubted the American concept and “I clearly speak about it.”

He also said he didn’t believe that the economic matters were more important than politics.

In today’s statement for Belgrade based news agency Tanjug, Petritsch said that Kosovo currently has a very weak government and that was a big problem. 

Belgrade, on the other hand, now has significantly strengthened government and has a stronger position in the assembly, and that would be the case in a referendum, which is not the case with Pristina.  The announcement of the indictment against Thaci weakened the government even more, reminding that the new government was formed with the support of Thaci’s party. He also pointed to the growing popularity of Albin Kurti. 

Because of all that,  Petritsch was convinced that sooner or later there will be elections in Kosovo.

 “It took too long, but international justice is slow,” said  Petritsch, who said that he personally advocated the establishment of a special court for crimes committed from 1998 to 2000. Now, as he pointed, everyone must take note of the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office, and it starts from the fact that Thaci, following the previous example of Ramush Haradinaj, would resign.

As for Serbia, he says that it should continue to work on finding a solution and that it should decide for itself who will be its representative in the dialogue, since the Constitutional Court in Pristina decided that it should be the prime minister.

Petritsch believed that it was good that President Vucic first planned to go to Brussels and then to Washington, as he thus proved that he was a prudent politician who confirmed that there was no solution without the EU.

 “The EU must not leave the leadership in the region to others, including the United States, but also to the Russians and Chinese who have their own political and economic interests. The EU must have a clear leading role there,”  Petritsch underlined, adding that he supported EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak and his intention to find a solution to the Kosovo issue in the foreseeable future.

Rakic and Popovic discussed strengthening of cooperation (TV Most)

Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government Administration (MLGA) Goran Rakic met today with the mayor of Gračanica municipality, Srdjan Popovic, TV Most reports.

As MLGA said in a press statement the meeting focused on strengthening cooperation and identifying programs and projects, all with the aim of raising the institutional capacity of local self-government. Interlocutors also discussed the strategies and ideas which are focused on economic development and youth prosperity.

Rakic pointed out that the Ministry of Local Government Administration would continue to provide support and assistance to the municipality of Gračanica, and all future cooperation would aim at improving the quality of life of all residents in this municipality.

Rakic and Popovic once again appealed to all citizens to respect and adhere to the prescribed measures related to Covid-19.

 

 

Opinion

 

Two Decades on, Kosovo’s Guerrilla Boss Thaci May Finally Face Trial (Balkan Insight)

The indictment filed by the Specialist Prosecutor charging Kosovo President Hashim Thaci was a long-awaited move that follows two decades of investigations into alleged wartime wrongdoings.

It was no coincidence for Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, the former guerrilla chief charged with crimes against humanity and other war crimes during and after the war in Kosovo. 

On Wednesday he boarded his plane to Washington, flying to the US for a long-anticipated meeting with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, and the US Special Envoy, Richard Grenell, to discuss Kosovo’s future status. 

As he prepared his briefing points somewhere in the skies over Europe, the press release from the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office announced that he was the first person about whom it is publicly known that an indictment has been filed for a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture. 

See more at: https://bit.ly/31eBWAD

Kosovan president’s war crimes indictment puts West in a bind (Politico)

Charges complicate peace efforts and will raise questions about cooperation with Thaçi.

Just as the White House prepared a stage for Kosovo’s future, the territory’s wartime past returned with a vengeance.

Kosovan President Hashim Thaçi was meant to be in Washington Saturday for talks with Serbian leaders on a new era of economic cooperation between the former warring parties in the Balkans, hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy.

But as Thaçi was en route to the U.S. on Wednesday, a stunning announcement appeared on the website of a special court in The Hague: A prosecutor had filed a 10-count indictment against the former guerrilla group leader and others, accusing them of crimes against humanity and war crimes, “including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.” Those charged were responsible for nearly 100 murders and their combined crimes had hundreds of victims, the prosecutor alleged.

The timing could scarcely have been more dramatic, and brought accusations from Thaçi’s camp of a plot to scupper the White House meeting. Thaçi, who has always denied allegations of criminality, pulled out of the talks.

“The accusations are completely without basis,” Kadri Veseli, a former president of Kosovo’s parliament who is co-accused with Thaçi in the indictment, told reporters in the Kosovan capital Pristina on Wednesday evening.

See more at: https://politi.co/2VeXt8s

Presentation of Balkan barometer 2020: The shape of things to come (Regional Cooperation Council) 

Annual public and business opinion survey including COVID19 Impact Assessment

Sarajevo – The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) will present 2020 edition of Balkan Barometer on Wednesday 24 June 2020. This annual public and business opinion survey of the RCC examines the perception and expectations on life and work, prevalent socio-economic and political trends & regional and European integration in the Western Balkan. The 2020 edition presents for the first time the perception and sentiments on COVID19 pandemic Impact Assessment.

Brain drain is becoming ever bigger concern for our citizens – in 2015 0% worried about it, now it’s up to 20%! Regional cooperation grows on importance – 77% of Western Balkans citizens think so; and so does support for EU integration – 59% think that EU membership is a good thing (20% more than in 2015). Moreover, over one third of WB citizens report spending less on phone bills since the Regional Roaming Agreements entered force a year ago.

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

 

 International

 

Kosovo scraps White House talks with Serbia after leader indicted (Reuters)

Kosovo’s prime minister said on Thursday his government would not attend U.S.-mediated talks with Serbia planned for the weekend at the White House after Kosovo’s president was formally accused of war crimes.

A special prosecutor’s office dealing with Kosovo’s 1998-99 uprising against Serbian rule said on Wednesday it had indicted Kosovo President Hashim Thaci at a Hague court for alleged crimes including nearly 100 murders.

Thaci and Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti had been due to meet with a Serbian delegation for the first round of U.S.-brokered negotiations aimed at normalising relations.

See more at:https://reut.rs/3ez94H8

Kosovo: War Crimes Indictment Advances Justice (HRW)

(Brussels) – The indictment made public on June 24, 2020 against Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi and other former Kosovo Liberation Army leaders advances justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo war, Human Rights Watch said today.

The statement from the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, which announced the indictment, says that it covers 10 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearances, persecution, and torture. It alleges that Thaçi, Kadri Veseli, another former KLA commander, and unknown “others” are “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders.” The victims of these crimes include Kosovo Albanians, Serbs, Roma, and people of other ethnicities, as well as political opponents.

See more at: https://bit.ly/37YDMHi

Thaci Charges ‘Timed’ to Prevent Amnesty Deal in Washington (Balkan Insight)

Experts say Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office suddenly filed war crimes against President Hashim Thaci because it feared he was about to negotiate an agreement in Washington terminating the authority of the Hague-based court.

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti on Thursday canceled an eagerly anticipated trip to Washington to meet Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and resume stalled negotiations with Serbia over the future status of the former Serbian province whose independence Belgrade does not recognise.

See more at: https://bit.ly/38brKKZ

Five Things Kosovo Must Know Before Doing a Deal with Serbia (Balkan Insight)

Kosovo’s negotiators must not be under any illusions when they come to seal a deal with Serbia.

Following the election of the new government in Kosovo, the US special presidential envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Richard Grenell, has taken a proactive and assertive approach to the talks, increasing the likelihood of a final deal in which the US plays a significant role.

Representatives of Kosovo and Serbia are poised to meet at the White House at the end of the month. Grenell was blunt in his statement that, “If either side is unsatisfied with the June 27 discussions then they will go back to the status quo after they leave Washington.”

The political climate in Kosovo is currently one of deep polarisation. Nonetheless, the Kosovo delegation must take into account the following five crucial points before their Washington trip.

See more at: https://bit.ly/31ryt23

Kosovo president Hashim Thaçi indicted on war crimes charges (The Guardian)

Court examining crimes during 1998-99 war also charges nine other former separatist fighters

A prosecutor investigating crimes committed during Kosovo‘s 1998-99 independence war with Serbia has indicted Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaçi, for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The indictment was announced as Thaçi was on his way to Washington for a White House meeting with Serbia’s president organised by Richard Grenell, Donald Trump’s controversial ambassador to Germany who was also appointed as the administration’s Balkan peace envoy.

See more at: https://bit.ly/31gtj8I

EU-backed court wrecks US plan for Kosovo summit (EUobserver)

An EU-backed war crimes tribunal has publicly stigmatised Kosovo president Hashim Thaçi, wrecking US plans for a Western Balkans summit.

Thaçi and others were “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders” of “victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and … political opponents,” according to a statement by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) in The Hague on Wednesday (24 June).

See more at: https://bit.ly/2Vj5ARz

Telekom Srbija places 155 mln euro bid for Kosovo’s IPKO – Pristina mayor (SeeNews.com)

BELGRADE (Serbia), June 25 (SeeNews) – State-owned Telekom Srbija (Serbia) has placed a 155 million euro ($174 million) bid for the acquisition of Kosovo-based IPKO Telecommunications LLC from Telekom Slovenia, Pristina mayor Shpend Ahmeti said on Thursday. 

“Telekom Srbija is the highest bidder for IPKO with 155 million. The bid should have been blocked. A few years ago the bid by the Albanian Elvin Guri for Telenor Bank was blocked by Serbia’s central bank. Recognition first!”, Ahmeti said in a Twitter post, referring to Serbia’s refusal to recognise Kosovo’s independence. 

Telekom Srbija has made a non-binding offer for the purchase of IPKO but can not come out with more detailed information due to the non-disclosure agreement, Serbian news agency Tanjug quoted sources from Telekom Srbija as saying on Wednesday.

In July 2019, Telekom Slovenia launched activities to sell off its 100% stake in IPKO in accordance with the group’s strategy for the 2019–2023 period, which also includes the possibility of further consolidation through expansion or disinvestment in the markets where the group operates.

See at:https://bit.ly/2YuVLC8

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

COVID-19’s far reaching impact on global drug abuse (news.un.org)

More than 35 million people around the world now suffer from drug addiction, according to the latest annual report on the scourge, from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released on Thursday, which also analyzes the far-reaching impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global drug markets.

According to UNODC’s World Drug Report 2020, some 269 million people abused drugs in 2018 – a 30 per cent jump from 2009. 

“Vulnerable and marginalized groups, youth, women and the poor pay the price for the world drug problem”, UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly said.

See more at: https://bit.ly/2A3xFoH

WHO to N1: Classification of Covid-19 cases up to national authorities (N1)

In an answer to N1’s enquiry asking for a comment on the difference between Serbia’s officially reported data on the number of infected with coronavirus and deaths from Covid-19, and those published by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) after having access to the so-called information system, the World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic, said that the classification of the COVID-19 cases was up to national authorities.

BIRN on Monday published that the number of dead and infected during the ongoing coronavirus epidemic in Serbia was much higher than officially reported.

N1 said that Serbian Government and state officials have not yet commented on the BIRN’s report, except President Aleksandar Vucic who said in Moscow it was ‘hypocritical’. Some doctors attributed the difference to a method of classifying the deaths.

“Definition of Covid-19 death is defined for surveillance purposes as a death resulting from a clinically compatible illness in a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case, unless there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be related to COVID disease (e.g. trauma). There should be no period of complete recovery between the illness and death. Further guidance for certification and classification (coding) of COVID-19 as cause of death is available here: https://www.who.int/classifications/icd/covid19/en/”, WHO said in a statement.

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

 

 

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