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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, September 23

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• COVID-19: 66 new cases, no fatal cases (media)
• SPO says war veterans undermining justice (media)
• Kosovo veterans say they’ve been sent war crime files, again (AP)
• Gucati: If we could, we would dismantle Specialist Chambers in five minutes (Koha)
• Albania’s media publish files received by KLA organisations (media)
• Grenell: Amazing progress this week in Prishtina and Belgrade! (media)
• Visiting Trump envoy vows US investment in Serbia, Kosovo (BIRN)
• Serbia’s Vucic plays down hopes for quick political deal with Kosovo (Reuters)
• Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti interview to KTV
• Haradinaj: Ujman hasn’t been saved yet (Klan Kosova)
• Musliu: Washington agreement can open dangerous topics (RTK)
• Tim Judah on construction of Nis – Prishtina highway (media)
• EU recalls that projects pledged in Washington are already being implemented (Koha)
• Six new judges join Specialist Chambers (media)

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  • COVID-19: 66 new cases, no fatal cases (media)
  • SPO says war veterans undermining justice (media)
  • Kosovo veterans say they’ve been sent war crime files, again (AP)
  • Gucati: If we could, we would dismantle Specialist Chambers in five minutes (Koha)
  • Albania’s media publish files received by KLA organisations (media)
  • Grenell: Amazing progress this week in Prishtina and Belgrade! (media)
  • Visiting Trump envoy vows US investment in Serbia, Kosovo (BIRN)
  • Serbia’s Vucic plays down hopes for quick political deal with Kosovo (Reuters)
  • Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti interview to KTV
  • Haradinaj: Ujman hasn’t been saved yet (Klan Kosova)
  • Musliu: Washington agreement can open dangerous topics (RTK)
  • Tim Judah on construction of Nis – Prishtina highway (media)
  • EU recalls that projects pledged in Washington are already being implemented (Koha)
  • Six new judges join Specialist Chambers (media)

Kosovo Media Highlights

 COVID-19: 66 new cases, no fatal cases (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health said in a statement yesterday that 66 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the last 24 hours.

141 patients have recovered from the virus during this time. No fatal cases have been recorded.

The highest number of new cases is from the municipality of Prishtina (22).

The total number of active cases is 2,014.

SPO says war veterans undermining justice (media)

All news outlets covered on Tuesday a press release issued by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) saying that the KLA War Veterans organisation is involved in some activities aimed at undermining the proper administration of justice.

Leaders of the war veterans told a press conference in Prishtina on Tuesday that for the third time they received files claiming to belong to the SPO. The SPO meanwhile has launched an investigation into the leaking of the confidential documents.

The statement issued by Specialist Prosecutor Christopher Bennet said the office “is committed to investigating and prosecuting individuals who commit such crimes, including the disclosure of identities of individuals who may be summoned to court or of any information that may lead to their identification”.

“During this time, I have also noticed the commendable professionalism and ethical integrity of Kosovo journalists and other public commentators, many of whom have spoken clearly about how such activities undermine the rule of law and the course of justice,” Bennett said.

Kosovo veterans say they’ve been sent war crime files, again (AP)

Kosovo war veterans said Tuesday an unknown person has again handed them war crime files from a special international court in The Hague, Netherlands, probing alleged crimes during and after the Balkan nation’s 1998-1999 war.

But a court spokesman warned that the veterans appeared to be trying to undermine the proper administration of justice.

Hysni Gucati, head of the association of former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters, said an unidentified man delivered the files — copies of the originals — to their office Tuesday morning in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina.

It was the third such incident in two months.

Nasim Haradinaj, another association official, said the names of President Hashim Thaci and other former top KLA leaders were mentioned in a draft document on charges against them.

“It would be good that the local prosecutor’s office and the international ones probe and find who is bringing them and from where,” said Gucati.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers is mandated to look into allegations that KLA members committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Christopher Bennett, spokesman of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, condemned the statements by the war veterans’ group which he said “has on a number of occasions engaged in activities which I believe are aimed at undermining the proper administration of justice.”

A copy of the documents was offered to journalists by the group.

Read full article at: https://bit.ly/3hUpzyx

Gucati: If we could, we would dismantle Specialist Chambers in five minutes (Koha)

Hysni Gucati, head of the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans said in an interview with KTV that they consider the Specialist Chambers to be “the most biased court in the world” and if they could, “we would dismantle it in five minutes.”

Gucati said he didn’t think the publication of the files alleged to contain information relating to the work of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office will have a counter effect for former KLA members and insisted that they did not disclose any of the names of witnesses from the files.

“I don’t believe this could be a boomerang for us or the KLA fighters. If we can, we will level the image of this Court to the ground. I will publish anything that comes to my doorstep from the Specialist Chambers for the sake of the opinion, our friends, in order to show a reality of what’s happening,” he said.

Gucati said that nowhere in the world is there a court that tries one ethnicity. “Why is the Specialist Chamber not investigating the ‘Panda’ case in Peja where Serb children were killed. They were also citizens of Kosovo.”

He also said that the Specialist Chambers have confirmed the authenticity of the documents being sent to the KLA associations. “If they can’t protect their files, it is not my job to do that either.”

Albania’s media publish files received by KLA organisations (media)

The Tirana-based Top Channel has published the contents of the recent batch of files received by the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans’ Organisations alleged to relate to the work of the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office.

The documents are said to consist of 260 pages and were drafted in December 2019. They are alleged to have served as the basis for the proposed indictment against Hashim Thaci and Kadri Veseli.

Grenell: Amazing progress this week in Prishtina and Belgrade! (media)

United States Special Envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia dialogue, Richard Grenell, took to Twitter on Tuesday that amazing progress has been achieved during his trips to Prishtina and Belgrade. “The leaders of the Chambers of Commerce in Serbia and Kosovo embrace – and announce they will work together to implement the historic agreement brokered by @realDonaldTrump. Amazing progress this week in Pristina and Belgrade!” Grenell tweeted.

Visiting Trump envoy vows US investment in Serbia, Kosovo (BIRN)

President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Serbia-Kosovo talks, Richard Grenell, visited Belgrade and Pristina with a US economic delegation and promised investment in the region.

Richard Grenell, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Peace Negotiations, met officials in Belgrade and Pristina on Monday and Tuesday in a visit he said was focused on “the economy and new jobs as priorities”.

Grenell’s visit came after agreements were signed at the White House in Washington earlier this month between Serbia and the US and between Kosovo and the US, mainly focusing on economic issues.

“What we did in Washington was great, and it is great, but the job is not finished,” Grenell told media in Belgrade, N1 reported.

The executive director of the US International Development Financial Corporation, Adam Bohler, and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic symbolically opened an office for the American economic development agency.

“Where Americans come, where Americans want to invest, where the American Development Agency is, there is a future and those are good signals and symbols for such a country, for such a region,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said after he and Brnabic met Grenell.

Read full article at: https://bit.ly/3j1pIBK

Serbia’s Vucic plays down hopes for quick political deal with Kosovo (Reuters)

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic played down hopes on Tuesday that a U.S.-mediated agreement on economic cooperation with Kosovo could lead soon to a political deal with the former province.

In his first interview with a Western news organisation since his trip to Washington, Vucic described the agreements as a big step in the right direction, but a long way from political normalisation.

“I think such agreements are very important in order to preserve peace and that once and for all we resolve our problems to have clear future for our children,” Vucic told Reuters.

Read more: https://reut.rs/33RkeCX

Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti interview to KTV

Vetevendosje Movement (VV) leader Albin Kurti said in an interview to KTV on Tuesday evening that he is confident that his party together with Assembly President Vjosa Osmani could win over 50 percent of votes in the next parliamentary elections. “We will do everything in our power to have 50 percent and more. I think this can be done together with Ms. Osmani,” he said.

According to Kurti, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) don’t even the third of the support that Vetevendosje has among the people. “They are well aware of these polls and this is why they don’t want elections,” he added.

Kurti argued that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci “sang like a bird” for four days during his interview by the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office and that the leaking of files allegedly belonging to the Specialist Chambers “are lame movies”.

Kurti said the Hoti-led government will be short-lived and that he is willing to cooperate with the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) to bring down the government.

According to Kurti, Serbia had asked for the Gazivoda [Ujman] Lake to be included in the Washington agreement and that U.S. Special Envoy Richard Grenell agreed to this “because he wants a snap deal”.

Haradinaj: Ujman hasn’t been saved yet (Klan Kosova)

Ramush Haradinaj, leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), a junior partner in the ruling coalition, said an interview with the news agency on Tuesday that the government needs to be careful while implementing the agreement signed in Washington on September 4.

“If we and the LDK would be in unison, the text of the agreement would have looked differently. I raised the alarm … I saw that Isa Mustafa [LDK leader] too was very concerned about certain aspects. Ujman [Gazivoda Lake] has not been saved yet, we are still in a very delicate situation,” Haradinaj said. “The Hoti government must understand that we would all be held accountable if the feasibility study violates the Constitution”.

Musliu: Washington agreement can open dangerous topics (RTK)

Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) MP Ganimete Musliu said in a debate on RTK on Tuesday that what was reached in Washington on September 4 is not an agreement but rather pledges by the parties.

“This is not an agreement, even though the government is calling it that. This is not an economic agreement; it is a political one. Some of the points there can open dangerous topics for the state of Kosovo. If it were an international agreement it should have been ratified in the Assembly,” she added.

“If it were an agreement, then why should it include religion, Ujman [Gazivoda Lake], Hezbollah, the moratorium and so on. Kosovo made great concessions at the meeting, by even giving up on mutual recognition,” Musliu said.

Tim Judah on construction of Nis – Prishtina highway (media)

Tim Judah, a British reporter and political analyst for The Economist, took to Twitter on Tuesday to write that “US officials have talked a lot recently about the merits of the Washington papers that were signed including the point about the “peace highway”, the road from Nis to Pristina. Today there is talk of $1bn to help finance it. But this is all a bit of mystery….#serbia #kosovo”. Judah also wrote: “I asked @EBRDabout this and, as far as I can see, it has all already been taken care of by the EU, so it is unclear what the Americans are talking of financing here. This is what the EBRD say about this road and its financing: 1: Nis-Plocnik – EIB/EBRD co-financing with EU grant – tenders to be launched early October, 2: Plocnik – Merdare – under preparation with EU grants for financing as above, 3: Pristina – Merdare – ditto, 4: Pristina – Tirana – ready – competed by Bechtel in 2010.So, could this be yet another case of the EU doing something good and paying for it and no one knowing? The EU pays for a lot of things in Serbia for example but many Serbs believe that the Russians or Chinese paid for them. Will we soon add the Americans in with them?”

EU recalls that projects pledged in Washington are already being implemented (Koha)

European Union officials told Koha that many of the commitments Kosovo and Serbia agreed to in Washington are already in the process of implementation as part of the EU’s investment framework in the Western Balkans.

“For instance, the European Union has secured technical assistance for the Peace Highway and has already approved investment for the first part of the highway in Serbia and in Kosovo. Some of the projects are new and need to be fully assessed in terms of feasibility and the EU plans for the region,” said Ana Pisonero, spokesperson for the European Commission. She added that the EU is ready to work with American partners and is looking forward to their financial contribution.

The paper recalls that Western Balkans countries had agreed with the European Commission in 2014 on a number of actions, including taking on loans for the construction of highways and railways connecting the region.

Representatives of the Kosovo Government did not specify which projects will be implemented through EU funds and which through the U.S. Government’s support.

Six new judges join Specialist Chambers (media)

The Specialist Chambers issued a statement announcing that six new judges have been appointed to the roster of international judges after approval from Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark. They will be joining 17 judges that are already on the roster.

The President of the Specialist Chambers Ekaterina Trendafilova welcomed the new Judges and stated that she looks forward to working together with them and the other Judges on the Roster toward the efficient and effective fulfillment of the mandate of the KSC.

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