Albanian Language Media:
- Thaci to deliver address on Sunday, following war crimes accusations (media)
- Thaci: No one can rewrite Kosovo’s history (media)
- Weber: Specialist prosecutors proved to be independent (DW)
- British Embassy concerned over increased attacks against Kosovo Serbs (Klan)
- Two new coronavirus-related deaths reported in Kosovo (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- Vucic from Brussels: I expect that Serbia will become a member of the European Union by 2026 (B92, Tanjug)
- Vucic met von der Leyen, Varhelyi and Lajcak in Brussels (B92, media)
- Deutsche Welle: Thaci hoped that Washington would save him? (B92)
- Covic: It is completely clear now that EU, Germany and France work directly against Trump (Kosovo-online)
- “There were indications they’ll sign an agreement, why meet at White House?” (Tanjug, B92)
- Kosovo ambassador demands explanation from KSC; Hoti claims his government will not comment on KSC processes (KoSSev)
- Fabrizi: Vucic’s visit to Brussels shows readiness for talks with Pristina (N1)
- Op-ed: Kosovo should suspend participation in dialogue (Koha)
- Serwer: Kosovo needs to hedge (Peacefare.net)
- After Kosovo President War Crimes Indictment, Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Uncertain (VOA)
- Thaci Trial ‘Should Have Happened Before’, Victims’ Families Say (Balkan Insight)
- Kon: Situation with coronavirus is getting worse (Tanjug, B92)
Albanian Language Media
Thaci to deliver address on Sunday, following war crimes accusations (media)
President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci is to address the citizens on Sunday evening in what is expected to be his first public event following the Specialist Prosecutor’s war crimes accusations.
“Sisters and brothers, dear friends. I have just landed at the “Mother Teresa” Airport in Tirana, and on Sunday evening will address you from my office. I wish you a peaceful weekend and remain fully hopeful that better days for Kosovo and the Albanian nation are ahead,” Thaci wrote on Facebook today signing off with: “Forever yours, to the end, Hashim.”
Thaci: No one can rewrite Kosovo’s history (media)
President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci made his first public statement since being indicted on war crimes charges by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague.
“Nobody can rewrite the history of Kosova!” Thaci wrote on Facebook in both Albanian and English languages on the background of the Kosovo Liberation Army emblem.
Weber: Specialist prosecutors proved to be independent (DW)
Balkan’s analyst, Bodo Weber, said in an interview with Deutsche Welle that the announcement of the Specialist Prosecutor’s indictment against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli was done so as to prevent some dangerous agreement being signed on behalf of Kosovo.
“If we take into consideration President Thaci’s efforts in the last three years for a final agreement with Serbia – by privatising the negotiating position of the Kosovo side, the insistence to put Kosovo into a dangerous agreement for exchange of territories – and that he did these to avoid an indictment from the Specialist Chambers, then it it clear that Thaci would one day be summoned by this court. The extraordinary decision of the prosecutors to publish the preliminary indictment, before the court’s decision, has to do with these actions of the president. The fact that the prosecutors chose this date shows their fear of a possible deal in negotiations that could happen at the White House on Saturday, regardless of whether this concern was grounded or not,” Weber said.
He added that although the specialist prosecutors’ decision to publish the name of those indicted may be unusual, it in fact shows their independence as it goes opposite to the Trump administration’s interests.
“This decision is being criticised as ‘political’ by Kosovo’s political elite but even if the decision were to an extent political, it was forced by actions of President Thaci and his supporters inside and outside of Kosovo and is not an indicator that this Court is political.”
British Embassy concerned over increased attacks against Kosovo Serbs (Klan)
The British Embassy in Kosovo expressed concern over the increase in crimes reported against Kosovo Serbs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is important that all communities feel secure in a multi-ethnic Kosovo. We ask that central institutions take these concerns seriously and implement solutions to reassure non-majority communities,” the Embassy said in a statement in a reaction to a research carried out by Aktiv NGO which found that 28 incidents against Serbs were reported between 15 March and 3 June 2020.
Two new coronavirus-related deaths reported in Kosovo (media)
Online media quote the Kosovo University Clinical Centre (QKUK) saying that two persons died today as a result of Covid-19.
Both victims, a woman from Prizren municipality and a man from Rahovec, are said to have been suffering from other underlying conditions.
The statement from QKUK said that at present 101 persons are hospitalised for Covid-19 and that three are in critical condition.
Serbian Language Media
Vucic from Brussels: I expect that Serbia will become a member of the European Union by 2026 (B92, Tanjug)
The President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic addressed the public today in front of the Serbian Embassy in Brussels, reports Serbian media.
He said that talks were held about important things that he talked about directly.
“It seemed to me that we had a very important conversation. One of the essential things in our policy must be about accelerating European integration, which I discussed today with the EU High Representatives,” he said.
He announced the continuation of the dialogue and the acceleration of Serbia’s European integration.
“We expect the continuation of the dialogue soon, and prior to that, the Summit will be attended by representatives of the two countries important for the continuation of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, but also our integration. I think the essence of Serbia and the EU is how to speed up Serbia’s European path guarantees from the EU, that if it meets the conditions, it will get the green light to join the EU,” he said.
He stated that he was in communication with Lajcak on a daily basis and that he had talked with him about relations with Pristina.
“The most important thing for us is to be restrained. We know that terrible crimes have taken place. It is good that there is justice for them, but with restraining from other comments, we are protecting our people in Kosovo. It is easy for us in Belgrade and difficult for people in Strpce and other places,” Vucic stated.
Vucic expects that by 2026, Serbia will become a member of the European Union.
“I am convinced that we are entering the new phase of relations with the EU with optimism. I believe that we will complete negotiations with the EU by the end of the new government’s mandate, which means that it would be realistic to become an EU member state by 2026. That is my opinion, my hope,” he said.
He conveyed that there were talks on infrastructural connections within the region, as well as on the financial means that would belong to Serbia in the coming period from the so-called two “pockets” of the EU.
“IPA funds are one thing, and not a small amount of money. The second is guarantee schemes, that is, guarantees, which is also a lot of money,” he explained, adding that the third thing is projects for the entire region, since the EU’s idea is to connect all the capitals of the Balkans by highway.
According to him, it is a combination of what the Berlin Process represented from the beginning.
“These are things that are of essential importance to us, but talks with Pristina are of key importance so that we can expect that financial aid,” Vucic said.
He indicated that he expects talks with Pristina to continue in two to three weeks.
He conveyed that he talked with EU officials about the situation in Pristina, what we can expect and what their conditions might look like.
He pointed out that he also talked with the EU Special Envoy for dialogue Miroslav Lajčák about all important topics and that now, after the visit to Belgrade, they established communication on a daily basis.
He said that the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was very prepared for the meeting and that he was grateful to her for the attention she paid to Serbia.
He said that he invited her to visit Serbia and expressed his belief that she would do it before the end of the year, when the coronavirus crisis passes.
See at: https://bit.ly/3dCuIcq
Vucic met von der Leyen, Varhelyi and Lajcak in Brussels (B92, media)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has begun his official visit to Brussels with a meeting with the President of the European Commission (EC), Ursula von der Leyen, B92 reports.
The talks between President Vucic and EC President von der Leyen included European Commission support for Serbia on its European integration path, fight against the consequences of Covid-19, a progress report the EC is preparing for autumn for Serbia and all accession countries, Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and a European economic investment package for the region.
As the EU Commission said in a statement to Belgrade based TV N1 President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, “had a good discussion” with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic together with the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak.
“The meeting was an opportunity to follow up on the recent EU-Western Balkan Summit, where the EU leaders reaffirmed the European perspective for the whole region and their determination to tackle the coronavirus pandemic,” EC Spokesperson Ana Pisonero told N1.
She added that Vucic “expressed support for the resumption of the EU facilitated dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, which is a key for their progress in the EU.”
Pisonero also said that both sides had the opportunity to discuss the agenda of reforms and agreed on the importance of moving forward on the necessary reforms to advance on the EU path, ‘in particular the rule of law and the fight against corruption.’
Following the meeting with President Vucic, Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter – “Thank you for the good discussion @predsednikrs. After the elections, a broad dialogue with all political forces is needed to move ahead with reforms needed to bring Serbia closer to the EU. The dialogue with Kosovo is a key. We will also support Serbia’s post-pandemic recovery”.
President Vucic then met the EU Enlargement Commissioner Olivrr Varhelyi, at the same premises. Vucic met with the EU Special Representative for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Miroslav Lajcak.
The two also talked in Belgrade at the beginning of this week. On that occasion, Lajcak stated that he expects the dialogue to continue in July and that, as a mediator, he is not there to force an agreement that they do not want, but to help reach a sustainable solution acceptable to “all parties“.
Deutsche Welle: Thaci hoped that Washington would save him? (B92)
“Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” publishes excerpts from the interview with Hashim Thaci, the last one prior to the indictment for the war crimes in The Hague, B92 reports.
Some media saw it as a great opportunity for Kosovo.
Michael Martens, a journalist with the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, talked last week with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci – about dialogue with Serbia, especially about the announced meeting with Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in Washington, with the mediation of Richard Grenell. The interview was supposed to be published today.
On Wednesday, the conversation took on a whole new dimension, after it was announced that Hashim Thaci, together with Kadri Veseli and others, is on the indictment of the Special Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague, charging him with serious war crimes.
“Thaci has been critical of the European Union for months, and at the same time he does not miss the opportunity to praise the American leadership led by Donald Trump and his special envoy for the Balkans, Richard Grenell,” Martens now writes.
“Western diplomats in Pristina have long suspected that this could mean that Thaci hopes for American protection – by posing as a necessary partner for Washington, he allegedly wanted to gain American political support in order to avoid a war crimes indictment. If it really was his calculation, now it’s destroyed”, the text adds.
That is why, in a conversation last week, Martens asked Thaci about speculations that he was arranging a mutual amnesty for war crimes with Vucic.
“Never. We have never and will not discuss such a topic,” Thaci replied, adding that Serbia had committed “genocide” in Kosovo and that there could be no amnesty for such crimes.
From today’s perspective, the text reads, it is striking that Thaci, in response to the question about amnesty, “immediately diverted attention from his possible role and instead accused the international community of ignoring Serbian crimes in Kosovo in the 1990s.”
It is now known that Thaci will not go to Washington, and the current Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti also canceled his participation. In an interview with the Frankfurt newspaper, Thaci again criticized the European Union and praised the role of the White House:
“Americans are proving once again that they can act faster, more accurately and more efficiently than Europeans. That is why the American leadership is necessary for Serbia to overcome its conflicts in Kosovo. “If there are lights for our countries at the end of the tunnel, then it shines from Washington,” Thaci said before it was announced that he was accused of war crimes.
Neue Zürcher Zeitung reminds that “perhaps the most important advocate of legal confrontation” with these events is the Swiss liberal politician Dick Marty, formerly a member of the Swiss Canton Council and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
“He published a report on the alleged crimes of KLA members in 2010. It mentions, among other things, ethnic persecution, executions and trafficking in the organs of prisoners of war. Marty believes that Hashim Thaci is most responsible for that,” the Swiss newspaper writes.
Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes that Thaci was always counted among the opponents of the Special Court established five years ago in order to shed light on the crimes of the KLA, and that the Court was located in the Netherlands precisely to protect itself from pressure.
“The indictment against Thaci comes in politically turbulent times. In March, the government of Albin Kurti fell after less than two months, which led the country into a severe political crisis in the middle of a pandemic. Thaci played an important role in overthrowing Kurti from the background,” the Swiss paper wrote.
An analysis by the Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) says that the indictment against Thaci puts Kosovo in an extremely difficult position, but “there may be a chance for a historic turn”. “If the special court for Kosovo in The Hague finally convicts Thaci, it would pave the way for a new beginning. For a new president (or female president), who does not overthrow democratically elected governments with tricks”, SRF states.
“Then perhaps the attitude could prevail in Kosovo that a man with a dubious image like Thaci’s – whatever his merits – is not suitable to be the head of a European country that calls itself a democracy,” the Swiss public service concludes.
See at: https://bit.ly/2VmmbUD
Covic: It is completely clear now that EU, Germany and France work directly against Trump (Kosovo-online)
Former head of the Serbian Government Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija, Nebojsa Covic said that by announcing the indictments proposals against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli the EU, Germany and France want to portray the US President Donald Trump as “barren and sluggish”, Kosovo-online portal reports.
Covic told TV Pink it was very unusual that the Court in The Hague charges Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli for the war crimes committed against the Serbs in Kosovo. According to him, it indicates a clear stance the EU has towards the US President Donald Trump.
“When you look at the situation, the chief prosecutor of the Hague Court, an American Smith is rather experienced. I think that based on the statement of the court’s spokesperson they have a rather strong case”, Covic said.
He also said he believed some European countries made pressure to announce the indictments publicly.
“Parts of American deep state were involved too. At the first glance this is directed against Trump and his administration, in order to portray that his administration and his work were barren and sluggish.”
According to Covic, Serbia for the first time in the last three decades has benefited from the acts of American deep state.
“They did not do that because of us, but because of themselves. Now it is completely clear that the EU, Germany and France work directly against President Trump, he said, adding now the question arises as to how the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue would continue in the upcoming period.
“There were indications they’ll sign an agreement, why meet at White House?” (Tanjug, B92)
German Bundestag MP Peter Beyer did not link the publication of the draft indictment for war crimes against Hashim Thaci with the attempt to undermine the dialogue, Tanjug news agency reports.
However, he sees the meeting as non-transparent and believes that an EU representative must be present at the White House talks.
Beyer, who previously stated that there are indications of an attempt to reach a “dirty deal” in Washington, says that it is surprising that the indictment was published before the announced meeting in Washington.
But he pointed out that it was prepared earlier and believes that postponing the meeting in Washington is not something that should be announced on Twitter, alluding to Grenell’s announcement that the meeting in Washington is being postponed.
“We welcome all activities that bring Belgrade and Pristina closer together and give a new impetus to resolving the conflict. Even in the past, the US and the EU have succeeded only when they have worked together,” the Christian Democrat MP, Peter Beyer recalled, reiterating Germany’s support for the EU in charge of dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak.
“There are serious reasons for such a decision. In my opinion, the statement on the indictment against Thaci shows responsibility and serious work on the rule of law, which is a key and most important element in the process of reconciliation and achieving a fully functioning rule of law in Kosovo’s justice system”, Beyer believes.
He claims, however, that he was surprised that the indictment, as he says, was announced on Wednesday.
“I didn’t know it was being worked on. The timing is interesting, but it is certainly the first signal in that country when it comes to working on the rule of law in a serious way. It is actually a step that is welcomed from a European perspective,” he specified. Beyer added that the publication of the indictment is not necessary, but it could be connected with the postponement of the meeting in Washington, and that he sees it as speculation.
Asked whether he publicly called on Belgrade and Pristina not to go to Washington in the Bundestag last week, Beyer said that he only demanded that the EU be included in Grenell’s initiative and that an EU representative be present at the meeting in the White house.
“No one in Berlin or in the rest of the EU was aware of the importance of the presence of someone from the EU at that meeting,” he said.
Asked whether there is a disagreement between Germany and the United States behind this whole situation, which is reflected in the solution of the Kosovo problem, and for which Washington, it seems, has room for compromise, Beyer said that it is not only disagreements with Germany.
“It is a European problem. Because only the European Union can guarantee a constructive, secure path to EU membership. It is a political process. We are working to achieve greater transparency in Washington’s initiatives,” he said.
See at: https://bit.ly/3eBkBpz
Kosovo ambassador demands explanation from KSC; Hoti claims his government will not comment on KSC processes (KoSSev)
A day after the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) announced that it filed an indictment against Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veseli and other persons with the Kosovo Specialist Chambers two months ago, some Kosovo officials have started a debate on whether the Special Prosecutor’s Office violated the procedure by disclosing two names from the indictment, KoSSev portal reports.
The Kosovo Specialist Chamber’s regulations, however, say that in exceptional cases the prosecutor is allowed to disclose the indictment even before it is confirmed.
Although Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said that his government would not comment on the Specialist Chambers, and that it would “fully respect its international obligations“, Kosovo ambassador in Netherlands, Lirim Greicevci shared his opinion on the indictment on Twitter.
“The announcement by the SPO about accusations filed against President Thaci and Mr Veseli, before they had been confirmed by a judge and most likely in breach of the Court’s Rules, will call into serious question their independence and professionalism,” he said.
In a statement on Wednesday, the SPO warned that Thaci and Veseli obstructed and undermined the work of the court and conducted a secret campaign to overturn the law creating the Court and otherwise obstruct the work of the Court in an attempt to ensure that they do not face justice.
Graicevci condemned this move by the SPO, stating that they have thus become “both a judge and a jury“. He also requested clarification from this institution.
See at: https://bit.ly/2YAjJfm
Fabrizi: Vucic’s visit to Brussels shows readiness for talks with Pristina (N1)
Head of European Union Delegation in Serbia Sem Fabrizi said on Friday that President Aleksandar Vucic’s visit to Brussels immediately after the general elections was a clear signal that Belgrade was ready for the resumption of the dialogue with Pristina on the normalization of relations, FoNet news agency reports.
Speaking to the Belgrade Prva TV, the top EU diplomat in Serbia said that the OSCE ODHIR observers concluded the June 21 vote in Serbia was organized in an efficient way.
“ODIHR’s report said that everyone could take part in the election campaign, that fundamental rights were respected, but that the opposition had limited access to media, and that the ruling coalition media presence had narrowed the voters’ political choice,” Fabrizi said.
He added the issue should be talked about in future.
Regardless, he said, there was a clear majority for president Vucic as the negotiator with Pristina under the EU auspices.
“I think that the two things should not be linked – the elections were held in a difficult situation with the coronavirus and deficiencies noted by ODHIR, but the authorities’ position in the dialogue with Pristina is stronger than ever,” Fabrizi said.
Op-ed: Kosovo should suspend participation in dialogue (Koha)
Augustin Palokaj, columnist and Brussels-based correspondent for Koha Ditore, argues that Kosovo is not in a position to remain engaged in dialogue with Serbia.
“Kosovo’s participation in dialogue, as if nothing happened, would be like an injured player entering a football match having a yellow card and a referee that favours the opponent,” Palokaj writes.
He says Kosovo needs internal political, social and institutional consolidation and that the dialogue so far put Kosovo in the service of the process and not the dialogue in the service of Kosovo.
“The news that president of Kosovo Hashim Thaci and PDK leader Kadri Vesel face accusations by the Specialist Prosecutor has caught many diplomats in Brussels by surprise. Not because of who was accused but because of the way it was made public. Now they are concerned about how dialogue will resume,” Palokaj notes.
As Thaci’s political future and his presidential post are uncertain, it seems difficult to believe Avdullah Hoti and his government have the necessary political maturity to represent Kosovo in the dialogue, he argues further.
“Kosovo should be frank to its allies. Tell them it needs time, internal consolidation, and will let them know when it is ready for dialogue,” Palokaj concludes.
Serwer: Kosovo needs to hedge (Peacefare.net)
This week it was revealed that an American prosecutor at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague has filed charges against Kosovo President Thaci, former Assembly Speaker Veseli, and eight others. It is inconceivable that the American envoy handling Kosovo and Serbia, Richard Grenell, was not informed in advance. He did nothing to stop the revelation, which was a break with the court’s normal procedure, and quickly welcomed Thaci’s decision not to come to Washington for talks with Serbian President Vucic this weekend, writes Daniel Serwer, Balkans expert.
He says that he is not against war crimes charges being raised, provided there is sufficient evidence but “this incident confirms what I have been telling my Kosovar colleagues for over a year: to diversify their sources of support. The United States is simply no longer a reliable advocate of the statehood, independence, and sovereignty of Kosovo. The Trump Administration has for some time leaned in Serbia’s direction on major issues: land and people swaps, tariffs Kosovo levied in retaliation for Serbia’s derecognition campaign, and the leadership of Kosovo’s government, which was changed as the result of American pressure.”
Serwer further states that Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti’s decision to also cancel participation in the Washington meeting is understandable and that going there would leave him exposed at home during a critical time. “He has only a one vote margin in the parliament and owes his premiership to President Thaci, who blocked new elections after the previous government fell to a no-confidence vote.”
“I believe that Kosovo needs to find some new friends,” Serwer says, adding that the possible candidates to fill the space include Germany, as a vital supporter and opponent of the land swap idea, as well as Japan, which has stepped up its role in Kosovo seeing China’s efforts to get closer to Serbia.
“But most of all Kosovo needs to crack the code on getting the European countries that do not recognize its sovereignty to change their minds,” Serwer writes.
See at: https://bit.ly/3i3RfCj
After Kosovo President War Crimes Indictment, Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Uncertain (VOA)
This weekend the White House had hoped to host high-profile talks between leaders of Kosovo and Serbia, but the indictment of Kosovo’s president on war crimes charges forced officials to suspend the talks indefinitely, putting future negotiations in limbo.
On Wednesday, a Hague-based special prosecutor indicted Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and nine others on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during Kosovo’s war for independence.
See at: https://bit.ly/2Vh4Nk4
Thaci Trial ‘Should Have Happened Before’, Victims’ Families Say (Balkan Insight)
Relatives of the Serbian victims of the Kosovo war say Hashim Thaci, one of the Kosovo Albanian commanders during the conflict, should have faced a trial long ago.
Family members of Serbs who were killed or are listed as missing from the 1998-9 Kosovo war say they hope an eventual trial of Kosovo President Hashim Thaci will bring them new information, closure and justice.
However, few of them seem to have big expectations, two decades after losing their loved ones.
Silvana Markovic, whose husband was abducted on June 19, 1999 in the Kosovo town of Gracanica, said Thaci and his allies “should finally start answering for the crimes committed against the Serbs”.
“There is still some suspicion, like last time, that it [trials] will start and then stop. We are surprised [by news of the charges], so there is some hope in God; I guess everyone who is responsible for the crimes will be punished,” Markovic told BIRN.
She said her husband, Goran, had been preparing to leave Kosovo but was meantime kidnapped along with two others.
At the same time, in June 1999, after the war in Kosovo was effectively over and international peacekeeping forces had moved in, Natasa Scepanovic saw her parents alive for the last time. She received the remains of her father in 2003. Her mother is still listed as missing.
Scepanovic, as president of a survivors’ group, the Victims of Kosmet Association in Belgrade, says the charges offer “a small glimmer of hope” for her and other Serbian victims and their families.
See at: https://bit.ly/3eBF2T9
Kon: Situation with coronavirus is getting worse (Tanjug, B92)
Epidemiologist Predrag Kon says that the situation with the coronavirus in Serbian is getting worse, adding it is specially threatening in Belgrade, Tanjug news agency reports.
“More and more people are being tested. There are patients in student dormitories, and the latest data is that 91 are positive, and that is probably changing,” Kon said in his capacity as Crisis Staff member.
He stated that there are currently 12 small clusters, and that a large number of people, 57 percent, do not know where they became infected.
“There are no indications that there will be a rapid improvement,” Kon stated, adding that there are events ahead of us where the transmission of the infection can be expected – entrance exams at colleges, prom nights, weddings.
He mentioned night clubs as a place of intensive transmission and said that Crisis Staff was considering interrupting the work of night clubs, as well as reducing the work of bars.
“It is better to take those measures as soon as possible than to wait for the situation to get worse,” Kon concluded.
See at: https://bit.ly/2BccTDQ