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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, September 21, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID – 19: 79 new cases, two deaths (media)
• Governments of Kosovo and Albania to meet on Friday in Shkoder (RTK)
• LVV reacts to Trump, says his approach rehabilitating of war criminals (media)
• Tahiri: Grenell in Kosovo to finalise agreements, they are historic (EO)
• Hyseni to receive salary equivalent to deputy minister (Prishtina Insight)
• PDK leader Veseli meets heads of chambers of commerce (media)
• Japan donates €800,000 to help Kosovo combat COVID – 19 (media)

Serbian Language Media:

• One new case of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo, six people recovered (KoSSev)
• Vucic to address UN General Assembly meeting on the occasion of the anniversary (RTS)
• Serbia joins UN call for global ceasefire during COVID-19 epidemic, FM Dacic says (Beta, N1)
• Kurti doesn’t know the way the SFRY functioned or how Gazivode was built, said Fatherland Movement (KoSSev)
• “If Bosniaks and Croats in B&H are for independent Kosovo, how they will prevent independence of RS” (BETA)
• Jevtic: Demolition of school in Drajcice impermissible (Radio KIM)
• Stoltenberg: NATO has no problem with Serbia’s weapon procurements (FoNet, N1)
• Israeli envoy to Serbia: We recognized Kosovo on September 4 (N1)
• Odalovic: Opening the archives of international forces would shed light on the fate of the missing (Kontakt plus radio, RTS)
• Djuric: EU to do its job and influence Pristina establish ZSO (Tanjug)
• US to abolish visas, Grenell on September 20 in Pristina (Danas, Index Online, Kosovo online)
• “If the USA abolishes visas for Kosovo citizens, it’s a slap in face of EU” (B92, Kosovo-online)

Opinion:

• Palokaj: The dialogue can enter an almost infinite process (Koha)
• Freund: Israel’s decision to recognize Kosovo is a major mistake (KoSSev, RTS)

International:

• Kosovo Lawmakers Play Politics with Personal Data (Balkan Insight)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID – 19: 79 new cases, two deaths (media)
  • Governments of Kosovo and Albania to meet on Friday in Shkoder (RTK) 
  • LVV reacts to Trump, says his approach rehabilitating of war criminals (media) 
  • Tahiri: Grenell in Kosovo to finalise agreements, they are historic (EO)
  • Hyseni to receive salary equivalent to deputy minister (Prishtina Insight)
  • PDK leader Veseli meets heads of chambers of commerce (media)
  • Japan donates €800,000 to help Kosovo combat COVID – 19 (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • One new case of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo, six people recovered (KoSSev)
  • Vucic to address UN General Assembly meeting on the occasion of the anniversary (RTS)
  • Serbia joins UN call for global ceasefire during COVID-19 epidemic, FM Dacic says (Beta, N1)
  • Kurti doesn’t know the way the SFRY functioned or how Gazivode was built, said Fatherland Movement (KoSSev)
  • “If Bosniaks and Croats in B&H are for independent Kosovo, how they will prevent independence of RS” (BETA)
  • Jevtic: Demolition of school in Drajcice impermissible (Radio KIM)
  • Stoltenberg: NATO has no problem with Serbia’s weapon procurements (FoNet, N1)
  • Israeli envoy to Serbia: We recognized Kosovo on September 4 (N1) 
  • Odalovic: Opening the archives of international forces would shed light on the fate of the missing (Kontakt plus radio, RTS)
  • Djuric: EU to do its job and influence Pristina establish ZSO (Tanjug)
  • US to abolish visas, Grenell on September 20 in Pristina (Danas, Index Online, Kosovo online)
  • “If the USA abolishes visas for Kosovo citizens, it’s a slap in face of EU” (B92, Kosovo-online)

Opinion:

  • Palokaj: The dialogue can enter an almost infinite process (Koha)
  • Freund: Israel’s decision to recognize Kosovo is a major mistake (KoSSev, RTS)

International:

  • Kosovo Lawmakers Play Politics with Personal Data (Balkan Insight)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID – 19: 79 new cases, two deaths (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said in a statement today that 79 new cases and two deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours. 104 patients have recovered from the virus during this time. The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (23). 

Governments of Kosovo and Albania to meet on Friday in Shkoder (RTK) 

The government of Kosovo and that of Albania will hold a joint meeting on Friday in Shkoder. Deputy Prime Minister Albulena Balaj-Halimaj who is also coordinator of this meeting, announced the news during the Kosovo government meeting today, saying that most of the draft-agreements between the two countries have concluded.

“I ask for understanding of our ministers if any draft-agreement does not pass as an agreement there, due to the legal procedures that the Albanian party has. However, I believe that so far, most of them are completed, but a finalization will occur tomorrow,” she said.

Apart from this, the government of Kosovo approved today a number of draft-regulations, among which the one for reintegration of the repatriated individuals. 

LVV reacts to Trump, says his approach rehabilitating of war criminals (media) 

The Vetevendosje Movement (LVV) has reacted to a statement on Kosovo-Serbia relations made by the U.S. President Donald Trump during his election campaign. 

“We heard the U.S. President yesterday talking at a campaign rally about ‘stopping massive killings between Kosovo and Serbia,’ that apparently committed such crimes against one-another ‘for centuries.’

The belief that Kosovo war generated from ancient ethnic hatreds, and essential mismatching between Serbian and Albanian populations, is a wrong belief, which ignores Milosevic’s and his regime’s main role in causing the war. Also, this belief avoids the fact that the war was not ordered and was not organized ‘by citizens’, but by armies and police, with a clear commanding hierarchy and responsibility.

This topic is elaborated by historian Noel Malcolm, “Kosovo-a short history,”, which for two decades has become a book assignment for KFOR soldiers, so, the American ones as well, stationed in Kosovo, and we think that it should be read by diplomats and advisers of the president who deal with the issue of Kosovo and Serbia.

If the war in Kosovo would have been of ethnic character, so, it appears that ethnic difference has caused us the problem, then, NATO would never have intervened, and Milosevic could never be considered responsible by the U.S. itself, NATO, UN and the main democratic countries of the world. The truth is that a genocidal state apparatus was standing behind the crimes and massacres (which had earlier attacked Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina), while on the other side, unprotected Albanian people of Kosovo, who defended themselves. NATO could not stand crosshanded while Srebrenica was being repeated in Kosovo.

This statement comes at the time when Serbia has the most armed army and the highest military budget in Western Balkans region, and purchases arms from the West, but what is even worse, continuously from Russia, and lately, it has become the first European country to buy weapons systems from China. While Kosovo, which has the West, U.S. and NATO as the only geopolitical partner, has a minimal army, no heavy armament and sufficient budget. How can poor and unarmed Kosovo endanger Serbia? It is Serbia that has claims in Kosovo, and its offensive armament is not aimed at distant countries in the world, but precisely the neighboring countries, and first of all, Kosovo.

With this rehabilitative approach of war criminals, peace is not being established between Kosovo and Serbia, but the frozen conflict is being prolonged. Peace is established when the guilty are punished and disarmed and when the U.S. supports international justice and Kosovo’s independence, as it has always done. Peace is established when Serbia recognizes an independent Kosovo and faces its past. Not when former Milosevic’s collaborators who committed aggression and committed genocide, are rehabilitated,” reads the reaction of the Vetevendosje Movement. 

Tahiri: Grenell in Kosovo to finalise agreements, they are historic (EO)

Political commentator Ramush Tahiri said in an interview with the news website today that U.S. Special Envoy Richard Grenell will be visiting Kosovo today to finalise the agreements reached between Kosovo and Serbia in Washington on September 4. Tahiri said the parties are expected to sign the agreement on the Nis – Prishtina highway and the feasibility study on the Gazivoda [Ujman] Lake. 

“It is good that U.S. capacities are entering int Kosovo; it has been a long time since U.S. companies have not entered directly. The agreements will bring job opportunities, they will reduce tensions in the region … The agreements that Grenell will make today are historic,” Tahiri added.

Hyseni to receive salary equivalent to deputy minister (Prishtina Insight)

State Coordinator for the Dialogue Skender Hyseni is set to receive a salary equivalent to a deputy minister amid criticism from civil society over the rising numbers and lack of gender balance in senior government positions.

The Kosovo Government has decided that State Coordinator for the Dialogue Skender Hyseni will receive a salary equivalent to that of a deputy minister, typically around 1,150 euros per month. 

Announcing the decision at a government meeting of the government held on Monday morning, Deputy Prime Minister Driton Selmanaj stated that it followed practices applied in similar cases.

Selmanaj added that, according to a decision taken on July 2, assistants to the state coordinator will be paid similarly to that of an assistant to the prime minister. Meanwhile, temporary experts hired to provide advice on specific topics will be employed according to the legislation in force.

The position of state coordinator for the dialogue was created in July this year, following the resumption of the EU-facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels. Since his appointment on July 21, Hyseni, a former LDK interior minister, has represented Kosovo in a number of expert level meetings.

The decision made over Hyseni’s salary comes amid criticism from civil society organisations over the rising numbers of senior positions within the government.

On Wednesday, the Group for Legal and Political Studies, a non-profit public policy organisation, held a press conference to assess the first 100 days of the Hoti government, and particularly highlighted the growing numbers of deputy ministers. 

Executive Director Abresha Loxha stated that despite promises from LDK during the 2019 election campaign to minimise the size of government, the current administration led by the party has the second highest number of deputy ministers since 2007.

“The Democratic League of Kosovo promised a small government with 12 ministries and a maximum of 24 deputy ministries, but has ended up almost doubling the number of deputy ministers, from 24 to 46, while adding two extra ministries compared to the previous government,” she said.

Loxha also criticised the lack of gender balance in the current administration, pointing out that only three of 16 ministries are led by women, while of the 46 deputy ministers hired, only eight are women.

PDK leader Veseli meets heads of chambers of commerce (media)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Kadri Veseli met today with the heads of the Kosovo Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, Berat Rukiqi and Arian Zeka, to discuss the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Veseli expressed his support for the initiatives of the chambers of commerce for their requests to be included in the bill on economic revival. Veseli said the PDK believes that in the current state of pandemic, Kosovo’s institutions can eliminate bureaucratic procedures, provide direct support to Kosovo’s entrepreneurs, look into the best European practices for citizens to withdraw funds from the Pension Trust and to provide equal support for all social categories.

Japan donates €800,000 to help Kosovo combat COVID – 19 (media)

The Japanese government donated €800,000 grant to Kosovo today to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, most news websites report. Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Meliza Haradinaj and Japanese Ambassador to Kosovo, Akira Mizutani, signed the agreement today. Haradinaj wrote on Twitter: “Arigato Nihon. Faleminderit. Honoured to sign agreement on #Japan’s generous grant extended to #Kosovo to help combat COVID19. Deeply grateful to #Japan & its people, @JPEmbKosovo #AmbMizutani & Japanese Gov for always standing by us, as Kosovo’s strategic partner in #EastAsia.”

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

One new case of Covid-19 registered in Serb areas in Kosovo, six people recovered (KoSSev)

Out of 32 tested samples one was positive on Covid-19 in the Serb-populated areas in Kosovo, while six people have recovered meanwhile, Crisis Committee of Mitrovica North announced, KoSSev portal reports.

New case was registered in Gnjilane. Out of 6 recovered people, two are from Mitrovica North and one each from three other northern municipalities as well as one person from Strpce.

17 patients are staying in the hospital, and 39 people are staying in house isolation, which makes the total number of active cases at 56.  

Vucic to address UN General Assembly meeting on the occasion of the anniversary (RTS)

The President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic will address a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly today, on the occasion of marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, it was announced on the official Instagram profile of “Buducnostsrbije”, reports RTS. 

According to the UN website, the high-level meeting will begin at 3 pm Central European Time, and world leaders will gather virtually to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

The one-day meeting takes place ahead of the annual meeting of world leaders at the UN, which begins on Tuesday, September 22, without the physical presence of the presidents and prime ministers of the UN member states.

The United Nations was founded after World War II to prevent another similar conflict, and it is assumed that world leaders will adopt a joint statement in which they will recognize “moments of disappointment”.

Serbia joins UN call for global ceasefire during COVID-19 epidemic, FM Dacic says (Beta, N1)

Serbia’s outgoing Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Monday the defence of multilateralism began at the national level, by protecting vital interests and priorities.

He added Serbia believed that by defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity it defended international law and the United Nations Charter.

Addressing the participants of the gathering ‘Multilateralism and International Security”, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN, Dacic said Serbia joined the call by the UN Secretary-General for a global ceasefire and cessation of all hostilities and conflicts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the gathering organised by the Faculty of Security at the University of Belgrade, Dacic said the crisis of multilateralism was visible in international security, where international organisations and institutions had difficulties in effectively dealing with both traditional challenges and new threats.

“The world is facing significant changes in communication and technological development. New challenges such as terrorism, which are carried on by non-traditional players and informal groups, certainly affect international security,” Dacic said, adding the current pandemic crisis confirmed the need to redefine the concept of national and collective security.

He said Serbia “is proud about the former Yugoslavia’s active participation and contribution to the founding of the United Nations, and that it was among the first fifty countries that signed the UN Charter.”

Dacic added the Security Council, as one of the most important UN bodies, had a primary role in maintaining international peace, but also in collective deterrence from the illegal use of armed force in international relations.

“In the current circumstances, which have profoundly changed the world in which we live, Serbia wants to significantly contribute, bilaterally and multilaterally, to both world and regional security. We support the UN’s efforts to promote and preserve peace and security,” he said.

Dacic added Serbia was firmly committed to continuing to support global efforts in the fight against terrorism, primarily through the full implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, as well as through active participation in the Global Coalition against the Islamic State.

Dacic reiterated at the gathering that Serbia “remains committed to finding a compromise solution to the issue of Kosovo and Metohija that will ensure lasting peace and stability.”

Kurti doesn’t know the way the SFRY functioned or how Gazivode was built, said Fatherland Movement (KoSSev)

The loans for the construction of the Ibar-Lepecan hydro system were paid off by the state of Serbia, while the Kosovo communist authorities carried out the expropriation of land by equating the value of an acre of Serb-owned land to a pack of cigarettes, the People’s Movement of Kosovo Serbs ”Otadzbina” (Fatherland) said in response to Self-Determination leader, Albin Kurti, who said in a Facebook post that Gazivode is Kosovan land on the territory of Serbia because the expropriation and construction were carried out with the funds of Kosovo.

”Albin Kurti does not know the way the former federation of SFRY functioned, nor is he familiar with the way this expensive facility was built. Albin Kurti does not know that the loan for the construction of this hydro system was taken by Serbia, which paid off all the debts with the London and Paris clubs, ” the movement wrote in a statement.

”Otadzbina” also objected to Kurti’s claims that ”the lake was not built in cooperation with Serbia, nor did Serbia intend to use the water – only Kosovo” and that Kosovo ”paid a steep price for it”.

”At the 2008 negotiations in Vienna, Martti Ahtisaari suggested to the Serb negotiating team for ‘Kosovo’ to continue with paying off the debts, but the Serbian delegation refused. It is interesting to note that the then Minister of Finance, Mladjan Dinkic was in favor of ‘Kosovo’ taking over the rest of the loan. During 2015, the Republic of Serbia paid all debts related to the Ibar-Lepenac hydro system. Therefore, the Gazivode hydroelectric reservoirs and hydroelectric power plants are the exclusive property of the Republic of Serbia, ” “Otadzbina” underlined.

They also responded to Kurti’s claim that Serbia would have expressed interest in the hydro system 40 years ago ”when Kosovo’s interest in designing and expropriating for that purpose was at the level of the federation.” Although “Otadzbina” admitted that Kurti is partly right, they added that he also made sharp accusations about how the expropriation was carried out, as well as the intentions behind the act.

”He is right in saying that the then Kosovo communist authorities expropriated land owned by Serbs. They did this by equating the value of an acre of Serb-owned land to a pack of cigarettes. In the middle of the winter of 1979, the dam was closed and a large part of the population was saved from the flood at the last minute. At that time, more than 6,000 Serbs from the area of Ibarski Kolasin were literally expelled from their homes and chased off to central Serbia. This is the biggest exodus of Serbs, not counting the one from 1999 when more than 250,000 Serbs were expelled from Kosovo. ”

“Otadzbina” claimed that the then proposal of the Government of Serbia – for the artificial lake of Gazivode to be positioned near Ribaric in the Ibar Strait, with a hydroelectric power plant of much greater power, from where the water channel system would lead to Obilic and Pristina – was rejected by the Albanian communist leadership in Pristina, who insisted that the hydroelectric power plant and the lake were situated in the so-called Varas gorge near Zupce, where the number of flooded villages would be twice as high.

”The reason behind this was to force as many Serbs as possible to move out of their centuries-old homes because Ibarski Kolasin cuts through the so-called green transversal. The current location of Lake Gazivode was a middle ground solution,” they stated.

Furthermore, they urged the chief Serbian negotiator, Aleksandar Vucic, to be aware of these, as they say, facts while negotiating with Pristina, while also warning that he is ”the main threat to Serbs in the southern Serbian province”.

”By signing the Brussels agreement, he handed over the institutions belonging to the Serb state to the separatists in Pristina. He also forgot about the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, on which he took an oath, as well as the Resolution 1244 of the SC and international law, according to which Kosovo is part of the state of Serbia. Serbian President confused the terms, if there are no Serbs in Kacanik and Djakovica/Gjakova, that does not mean it is not Serbia,” they concluded.

See at: https://bit.ly/2RJYR0R

“If Bosniaks and Croats in B&H are for independent Kosovo, how they will prevent independence of RS” (BETA)

Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic said that representatives of Bosniaks and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) work directly against their interest by voting to recognize Kosovo, BETA news agency reports.

According to him, by doing this they make the arguments against independence of the Republic of Srpska (one of the two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina) disappear.

“They work directly against themselves, and with their intention to recognize Kosovo, they lose any argument by which someone could dispute the right of the Republic of Srpska to independence”, Dacic told TV Pink.

Dacic said Kosovo was a province in Serbia, and Banditer’s International Commission “clearly said that Yugoslavia would dissolve as per the borders of the republics and didn’t refer to the provinces”.

“And if you now single out one province, based on what will prevent that one entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina declares its independence”, Dacic said.

He also said that the previous leadership of Serbia headed by Vojislav Kostunica and Boris Tadic “made a mistake” because it didn’t link declaration of Kosovo independence with independence of Republic of Srpska.

Bosniak and Croatian members of the B&H Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic and Zeljko Komisic voted on Thursday that this state recognize Kosovo, while Serb member of the Presidency Milorad Dodik voted against.

Dacic said the vote on Kosovo came after the Kosovo Minister of Foreign Affairs Meliza Haradinaj on September 8 sent a letter to the B&H Foreign Affairs Minister asking the country to recognize Kosovo.

“She (Haradinaj) in a letter said that an agreement in Washington enabled mutual recognition between Israel and Kosovo and cordially asked the B&H Government to consider recognition of Kosovo”, Dacic said.

He also noted that Pristina by doing this misuses the agreement from Washington.

“They have probably sent such letters to many other states. This call to B&H certainly represents the misuse of the Washington agreement. Serbia should stop lobbying against independence of Kosovo and they would call upon other countries (to recognize them) and present that part of the agreement was that other countries recognize Kosovo”, Dacic stressed.  

Jevtic: Demolition of school in Drajcice impermissible (Radio KIM)

Kosovo Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevtic told RTV KIM he received with regret information that the primary school building in the village of Drajcici near Prizren, 116 years old, is again threatened with demolition.

This and premises like this one have particular significance for the Serbs in Kosovo, Jevtic said, adding that they would make all the efforts to preserve and protect them.

Jevtic said he offers full support to the teacher Toma Tomic and others who defend the school from demolition. He also urged responsible authorities in Prizren that prior to making any step to demolish the building take into consideration its significance.

Jevtic also said he would discuss with representatives in the Kosovo Government, expressing hope that a solution would be found.

“The demolition of the school would be an attack against the cultural heritage of Serbs in Kosovo and such an act would be impermissible”, Jevic added.

Radio KIM reported on Saturday that the primary school building is again facing threats to be demolished and that 90-year old retired teacher Toma Tomic is trying to prevent the demolition.

Disregarding its importance, Kosovo authorities attempted to demolish the school several times. They started with the roof in 2013; however, following the intervention of the teacher representatives of the Ministry for Communities and Returns reacted and prevented it. Minister Jevtic back then requested that demolition is fully stopped.

However, a few days ago workers “with a delegation from Prizren” came to the village again with intention to completely demolish the building and build the new one on the same spot.

Teacher Toma Tomic who worked in that school 38 years and taught 23 generations of students does not give up the struggle to preserve the school.

“They want to demolish the walls and build the new school. I do not allow it, and I have more than 150 signatures of displaced Serbs from Drajcici who oppose it as well. They wanted to demolish it, some Albanians came. Director of the school in Musnikovo, Bajrami, wanted to demolish it, but I was there. He told me – when you die I will build the school,” Tomic told RTV KIM.

The school was constructed in 1904 during the times of Ottoman Empire, and Tomic possesses all the documents about its reconstruction, including the one that it is under protection of the state of Serbia.

He also said he addressed the institutions in Belgrade, however no one reacted, while local authorities in Prizren do not recognize its importance.

Drajicici is a mixed village, there are Bosniaks and Serbs living there. At the moment there are only nine Serbs living in the village. 

Stoltenberg: NATO has no problem with Serbia’s weapon procurements (FoNet, N1)

Serbia is a sovereign country and we fully respect the security arrangements it chooses, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, stressing that “Euro-Atlantic security and stability in the Western Balkans are directly linked” because NATO forces have been helping to preserve peace and stability in the region since the late 1990s, N1 reports.

Stoltenberg said the Alliance does not have a problem with the fact that Serbia has been equipping its army in recent years, mainly with weapons from Russia and China.

“We have developed excellent cooperation in the field of defense and security, in which we are helping the Serbian Army strengthen its capacities. Procurement for defense is a national decision”, the NATO Secretary General said.

In an interview for Kurir, Stoltenberg said that “NATO fully respects Serbia’s policy of military neutrality” and reminded that “NATO is helping Serbia to develop its security forces and institutions”.

“NATO is training Serbian troops for international peacekeeping missions, and over a 20-year period we have invested millions of euros to help Serbia destroy more than 230 tones of obsolete ammunition”, Stoltenberg said, expressing the Alliance’s readiness to continue developing a “mutually beneficial partnership” with Serbia.

See at: https://bit.ly/2FN1eh1

Israeli envoy to Serbia: We recognized Kosovo on September 4 (N1) 

There was no question whether Israel would recognize Kosovo as an independent state, it was done on September 4, and now it should be seen what effect that would have on relations between Israel and Serbia, the country’s ambassador in Belgrade Yahel Vilan told N1 on Monday.

“Israel hasn’t signed anything in Washington; we haven’t been a part of that summit. An agreement between Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdulah Hoti and the US has been signed. Our Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the mutual recognition,” Vilan said.

He added he talked with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic about the improvement of the relations between the two countries during the inaugural meeting.

Asked about Vucic’s reaction to Israeli recognition of Kosovo, Vilan said that was “something he (Vucic) is not happy about, and he doesn’t support that.”

“But Israel is a sovereign state, and that’s our decision. The agreement has been signed, that’s not something that Vucic and I can change. We should work on the improvement of relations, not to deal too much with something done two and a half weeks ago in Washington,” the ambassador said.

He described Belgrade’s decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as “very positive, very good news.”

Asked what Belgrade might get in return for that decision, Vilan said it was “a bit odd that we have to give anything in return for something normal for every country… We are looking at how to help Serbia in the best possible way, mostly in the economy, to increase investments and improve the trade.”

The ambassador said he met his colleague Mohammed Nabhan, the Palestinian envoy to Serbia, who earlier said he hoped Serbia would not move its embassy to Jerusalem.

Vilan said “the meeting was useful,” and that he didn’t “have any dispute with him (Nabhan) here.”

“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, we can discuss which parts of the city, but it is the capital,” Vilan said.  

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

Odalovic: Opening the archives of international forces would shed light on the fate of the missing (Kontakt plus radio, RTS)

Serbia is searching for another 1,643 missing persons about whom there is no data yet, the president of the Commission for Missing Persons of the Government of Serbia Veljko Odalovic told RTS and adds that opening the archives of the former KLA and the archives of international forces could help shed light on their fate.

Odalovic, as a guest in the RTS morning program, stated that it is necessary to open the archives of international forces, in order to more efficiently resolve the issue of the fate of missing persons.

“We insist on the archives of the former KLA and their services that operated in 1998/99 and 2000 on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija. But it is very important for us to open international archives, to make available the archives that are in the Hague tribunal but those of KFOR’s contingents, too.  We are sure that there is a lot of information in these archives that can help us shed light on the fate of missing persons at a time when Serbia had virtually no jurisdiction over Kosovo and Metohija, when most Serbs and other non-Albanians were killed or kidnapped. Of course, there are also archives of the OSCE and other organizations that were in the area,” Odalovic explains.

He emphasizes that it is very important for Albanians to show readiness for cooperation on the issue of the missing.

“We expect them to show readiness to first search the locations where we justifiably point out that they are potential burial places for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija and other non-Albanians, but also to find the strength to open their archives, because they have not been available so far. They insisted that such archives did not exist,” explains the President of the Commission for Missing Persons of the Government of Serbia.

He adds that the issue of the missing has made significant progress in Brussels and Washington. 

“It is very important that this topic has been recognized and is on the agenda. Therefore, we have got extra wind in our backs. How much Pristina will respect that remains to be seen because it often behaves quite strangely when it comes to the assumed obligations, like the obligation from seven and a half years ago on the Community of Serbian Municipalities. I hope that they will not behave like that when it comes to missing persons,” Odalovic states.

“The issue of the missing is important for overall stabilization of the situation, and that is something that these two administrations that supported us also recognize,” states Odalovic.

Djuric: EU to do its job and influence Pristina establish ZSO (Tanjug)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric said today establishing of Community of Serb-majority Municipalities (ZSO) is a condition for further progress of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and it remains to be seen if the EU would influence Pristina to approach the negotiations in a serious manner, Tanjug news agency reports.

Djuric added the aim of the Serbian delegation in the last round of dialogue in Brussels was to seriously discuss the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities and property issues; however, Pristina did not want so.

“The EU took note of it, but we shall see if it will do its job and bring Pristina back to the negotiations table in a serious manner. As far as we are concerned, as long as Pristina is not ready to deliver the ZSCO it may forget about anything they are expecting”, Djuric underlined. 

US to abolish visas, Grenell on September 20 in Pristina (Danas, Index Online, Kosovo Online)

US President’s envoy Richard Grenell is arriving in Pristina tomorrow, and he is expected to bring good news, such as the abolition of visas for Kosovo residents, Pristina based Index Online portal reported, citing sources from the Kosovo government.

Belgrade based daily Danas citing the portal’s same sources reports that the staff dealing with the protocol in the office of Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti has already started preparations for the reception of the American diplomat.

As it is stated, one of the reasons for the high American official is the implementation of the recently signed Washington agreement.

Zvecan based portal Kosovo Online states that it is interesting that Grenell had several fierce correspondence with the President of the Assembly of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, and the leader of the Self-Determination, Albin Kurti, in the previous days, who even announced that he would not respect the Washington agreement in the case of returning to the power.

“If the USA abolishes visas for Kosovo citizens, it’s a slap in face of EU” (B92, Kosovo-online)

If the United States abolishes visas for Kosovo citizens, it would be a big slap in the face of the EU, Nemanja Starovic from the Center for Social Stability says, B92 reports.

He reiterated that the EU has not allowed Kosovo visa liberalization for a decade now. Ahead of the visit of the special envoy of the President of the USA, Richard Grenell, to Belgrade and Pristina, the Albanian press announces that he could bring the abolition of American visas for citizens in Kosovo as a kind of gift.

Although there are no official announcements that this could really happen, it is worth considering the possible motivation for such an unconventional move by the world’s largest power, as well as the practical implications, Starovic points out.

“Let us just remind ourselves that Hashim Thaci promised the citizens of Kosovo and Metohija back in 2010 that they would be able to travel to EU countries without visas within a maximum of 15 months, and that the interim self-government institutions in Pristina fulfilled all items from the long list of as many as 95 requests for visa liberalization”, Starovic said.

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

 

 

Opinion

 

Palokaj: The dialogue can enter an almost infinite process (Koha)

The paper’s Brussels-based correspondent Augustin Palokaj writes in an opinion piece that when EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak assumed his mandate, the European Union was announcing a dynamic dialogue and a final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia within a short period of time. “This, alongside the engagement of France and Germany at the highest levels on the matter, made the continuation of dialogue seem different from the approach that the European Union had in the previous decade. In six months, Lajcak has proved completely the opposite – that there is no change in the approach of the EU, that the EU “does not have artificial timelines”, that “the EU is only a facilitator”, that “it is up to the sides to decide the topics” and so on. Serbia wants to continue the dialogue for a long time, the EU will not object to this, whereas Kosovo will suffer the consequences. Because the dialogue is for Kosovo. If the key people in the EU “who facilitate the dialogue” truly think that the EU will treat Kosovo as a state only after it is recognised by Serbia, they are only going to encourage Serbia to not recognise Kosovo,” Palokaj writes.

Freund: Israel’s decision to recognize Kosovo is a major mistake (KoSSev, RTS)

Israel’s decision to recognize Kosovo is a ”major mistake” and it sets a ”dangerous precedent”. 

It is contrary to the national interests of Israel and can ruin the relations between the two countries, which have experienced a flourishing of mutual relations and have plenty in common, said Michael Freund, President of the Israel-Serbia Friendship Association. On the other hand, the Jewish people ”are delighted” with Vucic’s decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem.

Freund said that ”like many other Israelis”, he was surprised by the September 4th decision that Israel will “reverse” its foreign policy and recognize Kosovo.

”For more than 10 years, it was a matter of principle for Israel to refuse to recognize Kosovo’s attempts to declare independence. This was a matter of principle for Israel – to not recognize the declaration of independence, ” Freund said on the talk-show ”Oko” (The Eye) on RTS last night.

”Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are the same as Kosovo is to Serbia – the cradle of our civilization, the heart of our nation. Jerusalem has always been a key dream place for all Jewish people during the 2000 years of exile. Now that we have returned to this country and regained our sovereignty and reunited Jerusalem, the only right thing would be for the Serbian embassy to be in Jerusalem – our capital.”

According to him, this was a result of ”a strong and intense US pressure”.

”For several years now, the US has been pressuring Israel to recognize Pristina. Unfortunately, it seems that politics has won over principles.” 

”It would be wrong for Israel to interfere in the internal affairs of another country. Kosovo is part of the country; the declaration of independence is unconstitutional and illegal. If adopted, it would set a very dangerous precedent, ” Freund pointed out.

”The fact remains that in the past few years, we have seen that the relations between Israel and Serbia have flourished in various fields,” Freund said. Exactly one year ago, the first Jewish center after the Holocaust was opened in Belgrade. An academic center was opened in Jerusalem, dealing with the study of Serb-Jewish relations, and there has been an increase in tourism between the two countries, Freund said, recalling tragic common historical events, such as the Jasenovac concentration camp.

He also recalled Ariel Sharon, who opposed the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

”We have so much in common. The Jewish people and Serbs are small nations surrounded by enemy forces. Throughout history, our homelands have been occupied for centuries, but through faith, perseverance and determination, we have overcome and surpassed those who wanted to destroy us.”

”The Jewish people and Serbs are brothers,” Freund said in Serbian on RTS.

Israel has long believed that the principle of ”maintaining sovereignty and recognizing borders” was something that had to be strengthened – Freund added.

”Recognizing Pristina means opening a door for every ethnic minority in the world that will demand the right to self-determination. And that is a recipe for chaos – both here in the Middle East or in Europe,” this journalist said.

”Whether it happens with the Catalans in Spain, or the Corsicans in France, or the Scots in the United Kingdom, once you open that door allowing the provinces in sovereign countries to declare independence – you open the Pandora’s box,” Freund said.

You can watch Freund’s guest appearance in the video above, starting from the 27:13 mark. The professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb, Dejan Jovic also made a guest appearance in this talk-show.

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

 

 

International

 

Kosovo Lawmakers Play Politics with Personal Data (Balkan Insight)

Lawmakers in Kosovo have reneged on a deal with Britain to elect an independent commissioner to protect citizens’ personal data.

Personal data and the right of access to public information remain largely unprotected in Kosovo after parliament failed again to elect a Commissioner for the Information and Privacy Agency, IPA, leading critics to accuse lawmakers of playing politics with citizens’ rights.

The Information and Privacy Agency, IPA, had asked the parliament to give its director, Bujar Sadiku, the powers of the Commissioner of the Agency despite the failed recruitment process for the post.

The request was rejected by the parliamentary Committee on Security Affairs as illegal, however, and civil society groups on Thursday publicly asked the Presidency of the Assembly, especially the Speaker, Vjosa Osmani, to be vigilant and ignore such illegal requests.

On August 14, none of the three candidates for the post received the required 61 votes, the third time in two years that parliament failed to appoint a Commissioner, failure analysts attribute to narrow political interests. The British embassy, which has assisted in the recruitment process, said British experts had been withdrawn.

See at: https://bit.ly/341FTZx

 

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, October 30, 2020

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