Vucic congratulates Macron national holiday of France (RTS)
On the occasion of the national holiday of the Republic of France, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic conveyed a letter of congratulation to President Emmanuel Macron, which reads as follows: “I congratulate you on the holiday – the day when France celebrates the imperishable human right to freedom, equality and brotherhood. On the fourteenth day of each July, we remind ourselves that for us, the citizens of Serbia, French national values remain a lasting example. If, as the French proverb says, ‘the past is the best prophet of the future’, I expect that the ties between the Serbian and French people, which were unbreakable in the most profound historical circumstances and which faced various challenges, will now soar again. With your last year’s visit to Belgrade and ardent speech in front of the Monument of Gratitude to France, you gave those ties a strong encouragement as you bestowed particular respect on the Serbian people, as your compatriot Alphonse de Lamartine did a long time ago when he said that ‘the Serbian people had proud a heart that could be torn but not bent, just as the heart of mountain oak cannot be bowed.’ Allow me to avail myself of this opportunity to thank you for the fervent hospitality you conferred to me last week in Paris. And with that unforgettable expression of respect, you have confirmed how high is your admiration for my country. Serbia, rest assured, knows how to respond to your friendly rapport, highlighted by understanding for our views. Serbia and France still share the values that modern Europe rests upon, and I am convinced that we will have your support to realize our European path, in favor of peace and stability in the Western Balkans. The strength of France is also the strength of Europe, and that is why, with sincere congratulations on the occasion of the national holiday, I convey to you my best wishes for the further progress of your country and the well-being of all its citizens. Please accept, Mr President, my cordial greetings and assurances of my highest consideration,” reads Vucic’s congratulation.
Chizhov and Lajcak: Resolution 1244 basis for settling Kosovo issue (RTS/Tanjug)
The Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Union Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov received EU Special Representative for the Belgrade–Pristina dialogue and other Western Balkan regional issues Miroslav Lajcak. They discussed the overall situation on the Western Balkans with a focus on the state of affairs and prospects of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. It was emphasized at the meeting that UNSCR 1244 was the legal basis for settling the Kosovo issue, and remains relevant to the full extend.
Borell satisfied with continued Belgrade-Pristina talks (N1)
EU High Representative Josep Borell expressed satisfaction on Monday with the continued dialogue to normalize Belgrade-Pristina relations. Speaking at a news conference after EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, said that the two sides had agreed on the main elements of the process. “I gave an important briefing to the Council about the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. The talks are on track again, with agreement on the main elements of the process,” he said and recalled that the next meeting will be face to face and is scheduled to take place in Brussels on Thursday. “I am very happy to announce that the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue is back on track. The talks have already resumed, with the first meeting [yesterday] and the second one next Thursday with a broad agenda and an agreement about what we have to discuss to get a legally-binding agreement normalizing the relation between Pristina and Belgrade,” he told the media.
France committed to sustainable stability of Western Balkans (Beta)
French Ambassador to Serbia Jean-Louis Falconi said on 13 July that he welcomed Serbia’s decision to choose a new methodology in the EU accession process, underlining that his country was committed to the sustainable stability of the Western Balkans. “France will continue to support the principles of freedom of expression and of the media, the security of the people working in the media and the pluralism of views,” Falconi said in a press release, issued on
the occasion of the national day of France, 14 July. The Ambassador expressed respect for the
journalistic profession, which, in his own words, was “sometimes dangerous, but essential for a
democracy to operate properly.” The French diplomat also said that in the days marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the French national holiday would be celebrated differently both in France and Serbia, without a traditional reception. In a comment on bilateral relations, resting on 180 years of diplomatic ties, the ambassador recalled that a year to the day French President Emmanuel Macron visited Serbia, and that the visit by the French president, the first after nearly 18 years, was marked by a joint wish to revitalize French-Serbian political ties.
Italy supports renewed EU-mediated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Beta)
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports the revitalization of a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina under the EU auspices, the Italian Embassy in Belgrade reported on 13 July. “We are supporting efforts by EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak to reach a
sustainable and durable agreement that would guarantee peace and stability in the region,
welcoming any initiative aimed at strengthening the EU special representative’s efforts,” the embassy said in a press release. Italy firmly supports the legitimate European ambitions of Kosovo and Serbia, wishing to encourage both parties to work constructively using a far-reaching approach, in line with their European perspective, says the release.
SDA rejects Vucic’s invitation for government formation talks (Beta)
The Party of Democratic Action (SDA) has said it won’t accept President Vucic‘s invitation for talks about the formation of a new government, the Beta news agency has reported. The SDA said the reason for rejecting the negotiations was because it saw the 21 June elections as unfree, undemocratic and irregular and called for them to be held again. The party’s statement added it had a meeting with Vucic on 4 May, asking for the postponement of the elections for 6 September at earliest. It also said the state of emergency was lifted although there was no official proof that the danger for people’s health and lives was over. “Belgrade regime and their obedient local authorities in Sandzak were hiding information about the danger, deceiving people that everything was all right with an aim to hold the rigged elections at any cost,” the SDA statement said.
Kamberi: We submitted our demands, to be followed by decision on government (FoNet/Tanjug)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic started today the first consultations about forming a new government with the representatives of the Albanian Democratic Alternative – United Valley and the leader of its election list Shaip Kamberi, FoNet reported. After the talks, Kamberi said they passed their demands to Vucic in writing and following his answer, they would decide to whether or not take part in a government. He added they had been sending those demands to the Serbian governments for years. “Particularly regarding the integration of the Albanians in the institutions, the problems in education, non-recognition of diplomas from Kosovo, economically underdeveloped municipalities. We ask the state to do something about that,” Kamberi said. Vucic said he carefully listened to all objections and added he was ready to help in different ways to the developments of Serbia’s south. The President promised his answers to the Albanians in the next two weeks.
Jeremic: Regime infiltrated thugs to deter protesters (Balkan Insider/Beta)
People’s Party leader Vuk Jeremic has said that the regime has infiltrated hooligans among the protestors s tasked with provoking the police, who would in return brutally beat peaceful demonstrators, which was why a large number of citizens has decided to stay at home and do not expose themselves to the risk of suffering serious injuries. “It is a trick employed by President Aleksandar Vucic and his regime to deter the disgruntled citizens from mass protests. However, this time, they could not hide the ties between thugs and the police as videos have been made, evidencing coordination between them,” Jeremic told portal Balkan Insider on Monday evening.
Asked whether foreign elements had been infiltrated in the protests as claimed by the Serbian authorities, Jeremic said that whenever Vucic found himself in a political or diplomatic trouble, he would launch a story blaming it all on foreign intelligence services. “Vucic has been telling the Russians that the West is against them and has been plotting to stage the Ukrainian scenario in the form of a new Euromaidan, while in parallel telling the West that Moscow has organized everything as he opposes Serbia as a Russian colony, while he has been telling Serbia’s citizens that the Albanian and Croatian intelligence wish to provoke chaos. But, one cannot be sitting in two chairs for ever, and I believe that the time for such cunning acts is over,” Jeremic specified.
Protests in Serbia were also held in the evening on July 13. In Belgrade, people, including opposition leaders, gathered outside the Central Prison, demanding immediate release of all individuals arrested during the protests.
B&H CEC warns that funds for local elections in B&H still have not been secured (BHT1)
The Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Central Election Commission (CEC) sent a letter to the B&H parliament on Monday warning that funds for local elections in B&H still have not been secured. The letter was prompted by the fact that the proposal of the B&H budget is expected to be discussed by the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) at the session on Wednesday. The letter reads that funds for the elections have not been secured 66 days since the calling of the elections, which is an obligation that the state institutions have in line with the Election Law of B&H.
EUD calls on political leaders in B&H to secure funds for elections (O kanal)
The EU Delegation (EUD) to B&H commented on failure to adopt the state budget and changes to the B&H Election Law by saying that implementation of elections in line with European standards, including the local elections in Mostar, is the No. 1. on the list of key priorities from the European Commission (EC)’s Opinion on B&H request for membership in the EU. The EUD stated: “Postponement in adoption of the state budget for 2020 in the B&H parliament would jeopardize holding of the local elections. Political leaders in B&H should act in a responsible way in order to respect the basic democratic principles. Therefore, we invite them to secure the necessary funds for holding of the local elections 2020 all over the country including Mostar, without delay”. Meanwhile, Head of the OSCE Mission to B&H Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec said that the elections are cornerstone of every democracy and that any attempt to postpone the elections represents interference into fundamental constitutional right of citizen. “Agreement about the elections in Mostar should have been reached long ago and the citizens see politicians have no interest to work to the benefit of the country. Regarding comments of SNSD President Milorad Dodik that we are overstepping our authority when it comes to the views about the Central Election Commission of B&H, I am not sure what bothered him. He too should be interested in having the elections taking place. Our role is to strengthen the CEC B&H. We have done it for years and we really care for having a strong, independent institutions the citizens can trust, so the elections are credible,” said Ambassador Kavalec.
Dodik: Agreement on appointments fell apart, it is uncertain whether B&H budget will be adopted (ATV)
Head of SNSD Caucus in the B&H House of Representatives (HoR) Snjezana Novakovic-Bursac stated that she believes that budget of B&H for 2020 will be adopted in the B&H HoR in the first reading on Wednesday, 15 July. However, Novakovic-Bursac stressed that final adoption of the budget is still far away because partners from the Federation of B&H (FB&H), primarily SDA, are not complying with what was agreed upon. Serb member of the B&H Presidency Milorad Dodik, on the other hand, told ATV that such situation does not benefit neither of the three peoples. Dodik said that agreements are mainly being violated in Sarajevo according to the already established scenario. Dodik stressed that agreement on appointments fell apart and that it is uncertain whether the B&H budget will be adopted. He underlined that B&H is a failed country that leads to nothing and a country in which the scenario is known in advance. The Serb member of the B&H Presidency stated that recent meeting with the leaders of HDZ B&H and SDA showed that something that is agreed today is not being respected tomorrow. He confirmed that SNSD, SDA and HDZ B&H agreed to finish ongoing procedures related to appointments but the agreement fell apart shortly after it was reached, adding that Bosniak member of the Presidency of B&H Sefik Dzaferovic (SDA) spoke to him over the phone a day after recent meeting between these three parties and wanted to add certain things to the agreement although it was already finalized. Dodik underlined that the budget cannot be adopted if such political games continue and appointments are not finished, but that he cannot predict anything for sure because B&H is a completely unsuccessful and failed country. “B&H is a completely unsuccessful and failed country… We currently believe that coronavirus (pandemic) is not the time for political showdowns and that is why we are not raising some of our issues we have been speaking about, such as greater degree of autonomy, independence of Republika Srpska (RS), because we believe that it would be misuse of this situation. But I cannot confirm that in the coming period that lies ahead of us, because of such a sluggish situation, the situation that at the B&H level is not producing any solutions, which continues to be an experiment of a number of foreigners who are attempting to toy with the problems in B&H, that one day everyone will see that this is not working,” Dodik stressed. Dodik said that open issues include the Constitutional Court (CC) of B&H in which foreign judges are disputable. According to Dodik, the entire story about the departure of foreign judges failed because of SDS’ Dragan Mektic who put an end to that issue at the Constitutional Legal Affairs Commission and thus, according to Dodik, caused damage to the RS. Dodik emphasized that B&H is also suffering consequences of the poor migrant policy. Dodik reiterated that camps for the accommodation of migrants will not be formed on the territory of the RS, although the B&H Council of Ministers (CoM), which SDS leader Mirko Sarovic was part of, made a decision on three camps in Bijeljina, Zaluzani and Trnovo.
Dodik: Ruling coalition in RS has capacity to initiate process of changing Constitution in order to eliminate problems and structures imposed by High Representative (ATV)
Serb member of the B&H Presidency and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik stated that the ruling coalition in RS has the capacity to initiate the process of changing the Constitution in order to eliminate problems and structures imposed by the High Representative. Dodik stressed that the RS needs constitutional changes and that the ruling coalition will deal with that as soon as the coronavirus crisis ends. Dodik stressed that changes to the Constitution would lead to a more efficient and more transparent work of the RS institutions. “We intend with this coalition capacity, when all of this related to the virus settles down, to initiate new changes to the Constitution, eliminate all those problems that we have in regard to the behavior and misuses of the Constitution and the constitutional structure that was imposed by the High Representative, such as the Council of Peoples (CoP),” Dodik underlined. Constitutional law professor Mile Dmicic stressed that in order to change the Constitution, one needs two-thirds majority in the RS parliament. Dmicic stressed that the essence of misuse of the Constitution is reflected in the fact that all decisions made by the RS parliament end up before the RS CoP which gives that body a chance to block even issues that are not of vital national interest. “The essence is to remove all those obstacles which are set especially by the caucuses of peoples within the CoP,” Dmicic underlined.
Croatia’s decision on restrictions for citizens of B&H continues to spark reactions (N1)
Croatia’s decision to impose restrictions on some passengers from B&H has continued to spark reactions, given the fact that the restrictions do not apply to citizens of B&H who also have a passport of Croatia. These citizens do not have to get a negative PCR test for Covid-19, nor do they have to be referred into 14-day self-isolation. SDP B&H issued a statement expressing hope that such moves would encourage citizens of B&H to turn to the local market and local tourism, having in mind Croatia’s frequent “underestimating and discriminatory” attitude towards guests from B&H. “Through double standards, the Croatian authorities have once again shown that they still stick to the ideas whose defeat is celebrated on May 9,” reads the statement. “This is an unfounded, unilateral move to which the institutions of B&H must react urgently and fiercely, at least by introducing reciprocal measures. It is absurd that the B&H Council of Ministers introduced a reciprocal ban on entering B&H for citizens of the EU, which is solely and directly detrimental to the economy of B&H, especially to businesses in the service industry,” reads the statement. DF called on the Croatian government to lift the restrictions for passengers from B&H. “We think that the selective approach of the Croatian government, by which only citizens of B&H who also have a passport of Croatia are allowed to enter Croatia, is more detrimental to relations between the two countries than it is useful to Croatia itself in the fight against the pandemic” reads the statement issued by DF. Croatia’s decision was also condemned by SDA.
PM hints at streamlined government (HRT)
Croatian Prime Minister and Croatian Democratic Union leader (HDZ) Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday that the new government would be somewhat smaller than the previous one. The HDZ held a meeting of the party’s presidency, National Council, and Central Committee on Monday to discussions the recent parliamentary elections and how the new government would look once the official results are presented on Thursday. “The government will be somewhat smaller than it was. It will be functional, some of the current members in government will remain, others will be in parliament. Some new people will join too, Plenkovic said ahead of the meeting. He confirmed that the environment and energy sector may be merged with some other ministry. He underlined that talks were still underway in that regard. However, the issue of climate change would not be neglected and would become the number one issue in the context of economic recovery. “There will be fewer ministries but that does not mean that public servants will lose their jobs. This is a different type of message of a fewer number of ministries and fewer members of the government,” said Plenkovic. Also, Krunoslav Katicic was named Secretary General of the HDZ at Monday’s meeting, replacing Gordan Jandrokovic.
All non-EU citizens entering Croatia have to undergo self-isolation as of Monday (HRT)
Due to increase in number of new Coronavirus cases, new restrictive measures entered into force in Croatia as of Monday. All citizens of non-EU countries entering Croatia will have to undergo 14-day-long self-isolation. Period of self-isolation can be reduced to seven days if those from non-EU countries entering Croatia submit results of PCR test proving they were tested negative for Covid-19 less than 48 hours ago. One of new measures in Croatia imply mandatory wearing of protective masks indoors. Director of Croatian Public Health Institute. Krunoslav Capak stated that results of recently conducted serology research showed that number of those who were in contact with the virus is significantly higher than it was assessed.
Croatian Public Health Institute issued recommendations and instructions for crossing of Croatian border. Citizens of so called third countries are allowed to use Croatia as transit country. The only condition they have to meet is that they are allowed to enter their final destination country. Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina entering Croatia need to be PCR-tested if they want to avoid self-isolation, unless they have a passport of Croatia or some other country of the EU. Representative of the Croatian Ministry of Interior Tomislav Kufner stated: “If citizens of third countries arrive in Croatia, they have to be referred into 14-day self-isolation. If they arrive in Croatia and stay there for seven days, they can get PCR-tested at their own expense. If the test comes back negative on the seventh day, self-isolation can be terminated.” He added that citizens of third countries who travel to Croatia for tourist or business-related reasons can get PCR-tested in their own countries. A PCR test is also required for entering North Macedonia, while Montenegro recognizes serological tests as well.
Mugosa: The infection is spreading like wildfire (CDM)
The Director of the Institute for Public Health Boban Mugosa said at the press conference that the virus “is spreading like wildfire”. He reminded that coronavirus had led many economies to collapse and called on everybody to adhere to imposed measures. “We are trying very hard to identify all cases,” Mugosa said. “We were very successful in the first wave. The problem is not testing, self-isolation or healthcare system. The problem is if we think this will bypass us. Number of infections is on the rise. We must take care of social and physical distance. Reduce contacts. Socializing should be within family only. Our hands must be clean. We must wear masks where that’s required,” Mugosa said. The situation might get even more complicated. “I would like you to understand that we are together in this. A lot depends on us. It would be the easiest to lock the country down. Right now, that’s not necessary and it’s not possible,” Mugosa said.
Markovic – Michel: Montenegro is leader in the EU accession process (CDM)
The EU has a clear interest in stability and progress of Montenegro and the region, it was stated at the meeting between Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and President of the European Council Charles Michel. “Montenegro is a leader in the accession process!” Michel congratulated Montenegro on opening the last negotiating chapter. “Now comes the most challenging phase of negotiations where we need to further enhance reform efforts. Montenegro can count on the EU assistance,” Michel said.
SEC: 723 Covid-19 patients and people in self-isolation exercise voting right (MIA)
The State Election Commission (SEC) has said that 723 Covid-19 patients and people in self-isolation exercised their voting right at the early parliamentary elections on Monday. “Let me thank the media for the message transmitted to the citizens that SEC and the state have administered a fully safe voting process for this category of voters. I urge citizens to come out and vote over the next two days and have no concerns about their health because polling stations will be completely safe,” said SEC president Oliver Derkovski. SEC will not release any results from today’s vote, only the turnout. “The ballots remain sealed in envelopes in the ballot boxes. The same will apply for tomorrow’s vote. Secrecy is guaranteed and there is no way to open these ballots. They will be opened after the end of the 15 July voting,” said SEC member Boris Kondarko. The voter’s register includes 1,814,263 citizens. The homebound and infirm (8,852), inmates (1,657), internally displaced persons (6), and persons in retirement homes (357) will vote on Tuesday.
Government condemns attacks on MIA journalist, calls MoI and prosecutor’s office for urgent action (MIA)
The government has condemned in the strongest possible terms the attacks using hate speech on MIA journalist Tanja Milevska or any journalist or citizen in general. The Government stands firmly behind the freedom of speech and free journalism, and has zero tolerance to intimidation and threats directed at journalists. “Safe reporting and freedom of thought, speech and action in media has been our essential and long-standing commitment. Gender-based violence is another equally important problem in society that we should jointly oppose and fight against, the government said in a press release. It calls on the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to take urgent action in addressing the brutal threats and gender-based calls for violence against the journalist. Earlier in the day, the European Commission said attacks or threats against journalists are unacceptable and should be condemned. Journalists need to be able to do their job free of violence, harassment and intimidation. “A free press is a cornerstone of democracy and in Europe’s DNA. Democracy cannot work without free and independent media and respect for freedom of expression is essential,” reads the EC statement. The Commission expects the relevant authorities to ensure an effective follow-up of all instances of physical and verbal violence against journalists.
Government & opposition clash over electoral reform (Tirana Times)
Prime Minister Edi Rama announced that he is ready to support the idea of open lists as part of the election system, a statement that has not been well-received by the US, the EU and the UK which mediated the June 5th agreement on the electoral reform. The PM’s statement comes after the latest meeting between the representatives of the government and the opposition, who insist on a constitutional change as regards the election system, otherwise they will back off from the common agreement between the two. He said he was aware that the international community had asked him not to take such a step, but denied that this violated the 5 June agreement, stating that the agreement has been reached willfully. Earlier, Ambassador Yuri Kim stressed that the 5 June agreement between the government and the opposition is closed and therefore each party is expected to follow through with it. At the same time, the OSCE spoke to Rama about the impossibility of extreme changes a year before the elections. Furthermore, European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi made it clear that the European Commission does not support initiatives to change the electoral system a few months before the election. “Other reforms related to the electoral system, outside the OSCE / ODIHR recommendations, should be approved no less than a year before the elections and require appropriate consultation, as recommended by the OSCE,” he wrote in a Twitter post. In response, the Prime Minister has claimed that he will not change the 5 June agreement, but instead will add more to it. However, one of the 15 EU conditions states that any changes made to the electoral system must be consensual, rather than unilateral, thus casting doubt over Rama. As a result, the Prime Minister has been under fire by the international community for putting the agreement on the line, at the same time marking his first serious clash with the internationals since he took over the government in 2013. Nevertheless, it is yet to see how far this agreement may be on the line, or how the international community will further respond to the government’s and/or the opposition’s attempts. The government and the opposition reached an agreement on the electoral reform on June 5, after lengthy discussions regarding the depoliticization of the election administration, one of the basic OSCE / ODIHR recommendations. Based on the agreement, the same structure will remain as regards representatives of political parties. The issue of depoliticization was not well-received by the opposition representatives, as they were reluctant towards the fact that public administration officials would be involved in election commissions, therefore leading to the ruling party backing down.
CDU Adviser, Henze: A coup d’etat is being carried out in Albania (ADN)
The advisor of German CDU Martin Henze considered the Socialist Party initiative to unilaterally change the constitution as a coup d’etat. In a post in his social media, Henze published the agreement of 5 June signed by all political parties in the presence of the EU, US Ambassadors, adding that the last actions of Prime Minister, Edi Rama this agreement does not exist anymore. He urged for a reaction by the EU institutions saying that in Albania the Parliament is working based on communist methods. “In Albania, democratic electoral law reform of the government/parliamentary and extra-parliamentary democratic opposition, accompanied by the US/EU, has failed. The corrupt government of Edi Rama and the illegal, communist opposition in parliament have violated the contract and are passing an anti-democratic electoral law. Rama and the illegal opposition in the Albanian parliament want to change the constitution. Those who have left the country without a Constitutional Court and without institutions cannot change the Constitution. The Rama organization and the illegal opposition in parliament are thus carrying out a massive constitutional coup,” said Henze.
EU Commissioner meets with Albania’s Chief Negotiator for EU (Tirana Times)
Albania’s Chief Negotiator for EU Integration, Zef Mazi met with the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi on Tuesday to discuss next steps following the opening of EU accession talks with Albania. Varhelyi shared the news on Twitter and emphasized the importance of advancing in the electoral and judicial reforms. “Met with Albania’s newly appointed chief negotiator for EU integration Zef Mazi this morning to discuss the preparations & next steps in view of the decision on opening of negotiations. Also underlined importance of advancing on reforms,” he wrote in a Twitter post. On 24 March, Albania and North Macedonia were given the green light for the opening of accession talks by the General Affairs Council of the EU. The decision which came at a time of a global crisis, was welcomed by officials of both countries, marking a great step for the Western Balkans towards EU integration. However, Albania still needs to meet 15 conditions set by the Council until the next intergovernmental meeting, the focus of which is on the advancement of the electoral and judicial reform in the country.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Kosovo’s Hashim Thaci says talks with Hague prosecutors ‘price of freedom’ (DW/AP/AFP, 13 July 2020)
Kosovo President Thaci has spoken to prosecutors in The Hague after he was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Addressing reporters, Thaci once again insisted he had done nothing wrong.
Thaci arrived for questioning by war crimes prosecutors in The Hague on Monday, saying that “nobody can rewrite history” over his role in the 1998-99 conflict with Serbia that won Kosovo its de-facto independence. His arrival was greeted by a small group of chanting supporters, who held up signs and chanted his name as he entered the Kosovo Specialist Chambers. Thaci, who is attending voluntarily, has said he wants to prove that he broke no international rules in the armed conflict between separatists from the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbia. “Today I am here to respect what I dreamt and fought for, a free independent Kosovo based on equal rights, multi-ethnic society and rule of law,” Thaci told reporters outside the Kosovo Specialist Chambers.
“I am ready to face the new challenge and succeed for my son, my family, my people, and my country. Nobody can rewrite history. This is a price of freedom.” The Kosovo president and others face 10 counts of “crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.”
Decision on charges
Thaci and the other defendants are accused of being “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders.” He has dismissed the accusations but says he will resign if he is formally charged.
A pre-trial judge will decide later this year whether to confirm or reject the charges. With its majority Albanian population, Kosovo had been a province of Serbia before the Albanians rebelled against Belgrade’s rule. A series of guerrilla attacks quickly expanded into a war that was marked by a brutal crackdown by Serbian forces. More than 10,000 people died in the Kosovo conflict, most of them ethnic Albanians. The fighting ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign in 1999 that forced Serbian troops to retreat. Thaci has been president since 2016 having previously served as prime minister. In recent years he has taken part in talks aimed at normalizing ties with Serbia, which still rejects Kosovo’s independence.