Albanian Language Media:
- COVID-19: 62 new cases, one death (media)
- Hoti: Washington Agreement heralds new momentum in political developments (Koha)
- Head of Kosovo’s commerce chamber reveals topics discussed in Belgrade (Indeksonline)
- Lajcak continues discussions on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (media)
- Greece reconfirms support for visa liberalisation for Kosovo (media)
- Osmani calls for removal of barriers in the Balkans (media)
Serbian Language Media:
- “Wherever Americans come to invest, that place has a future” (B92)
- Serbia’s PM Brnabic: New era in economic and political relationship with US (Beta, N1, RTS)
- Dacic on Kosovo: Economy drives but … (Blic, RTS)
- DFC on Boehler’s visit to Serbia (B92)
- Mladjan Djordjevic from the Oslobodjenje movement: Vucic sold Kosovo for American loans (Danas)
- SSP: There are no American investments, only loans so Albanian can connect with Europe (Danas)
- SPO praises journalists who refuse to publish allegedly leaked documents (KoSSev)
- Demolition of school in Drajcici village halted (Radio KIM)
- The Gazivode/Ujmani issue and a part of the solution (KoSSev)
- Bosnian Serb Leader’s Croatia Visit Highlights Region’s Shifting Geopolitics (Balkan Insight)
- Hague Prosecutors Criticise Kosovo War Veterans over Document Leaks (Balkan Insight)
- Next year in Jerusalem: the Serbian Embassy and Kosovo go on a pilgrimage with Trump (opendemocracy.net)
- A high-level conference about the Balkan Euro-Atlantic integration will be held in Rome (EWB)
- COVID-19 Puts Balkan Winemakers Over a Barrel (Balkan Insight)
- Environment minister ‘ashamed’ of river degradation (Prishtina Insight)
- Bregu says region could save millions with integrated border crossings (N1)
- Activists on bikes protest against gender-based violence (media)
Albanian Language Media
COVID-19: 62 new cases, one death (media)
Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced in its briefing today that of 528 samples tested for coronavirus, 62 resulted positive.
At the same time, one death and 85 recoveries were recorded over the last 24 hours.
The majority of the new infections (17) are from the municipality of Prishtina.
Hoti: Washington Agreement heralds new momentum in political developments (Koha)
Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti said that the agreement signed in Washington for normalisation of economic relations between Kosovo and Serbia represents a new momentum.
“I believe there is new momentum in political developments, especially with the signing of the Agreement. The process of economic recovery was a central topic,” Hoti said today in a visit to the Kosovo’s Chamber of Commerce.
Hoti also called on the Kosovo Assembly to endorse the law on economic recovery. “It is vital to help businesses through this law. I urge parliamentary groups to support this law as it enables businesses and citizens to benefit from around 700 million euros.”
Head of Kosovo’s commerce chamber reveals topics discussed in Belgrade (Indeksonline)
Chairman of the Kosovo’s Chamber of Commerce, Berat Rukiqi, spoke to the news website about yesterday’s meeting with representatives of Serbia’s Chamber of Commerce that took place at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador in Belgrade.
“We addressed barriers that exist between the two countries in the aspect of trade exchange and so on. The focus of discussion was to have the two countries benefit more from the projects, their structure, financing. I presented my proposals on projects of vital importance to Kosovo,” Rukiqi said.
Rukiqi in this respect mentioned three projects which he said will be implemented very soon. “The Brezovica project, the project in the field of mining, as well as the project in the energy field which is linked to gas networks.”
The two chambers of commerce, that of Kosovo and Serbia, agreed to set up a working group which will assist the two governments in implementation of projects agreed on in Washington, Indeksonline reported.
Lajcak continues discussions on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (media)
The EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, met Foreign Minister of Finland and Czech Republic’s State Secretary for European Affairs.
“The last 2️ days were a clear sign that EU is very interested in the Western Balkan and strongly supports the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue,” Lajcak tweeted.
Greece reconfirms support for visa liberalisation for Kosovo (media)
Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla had a teleconference meeting with Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly annual session, media report quoting a press release issued by Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora.
Haradinaj-Stublla said Dendias confirmed Greece’s support for visa liberalisation for Kosovo and underlined the need for broader regional political and economic cooperation to maintain peace and stability.
“With Minister Dendias we also discussed the Washington Agreement which paves way for the final agreement on mutual recognition in existing borders which respects the Republic of Kosovo’s constitutional order and unified character,” Haradinaj Stublla said.
Osmani calls for removal of barriers in the Balkans (media)
In a meeting today with the Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Majlinda Bregu, Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani underlined the importance of removing barriers on free movement of people and goods in the Western Balkans.
According to a statement issued by the Assembly of Kosovo, Osmani also spoke about the need of inclusion of all Western Balkans countries in joint projects. She said the region’s parliaments need to be included in the green agenda and implementation of obligations stemming from the Berlin process.
Serbian Language Media
“Wherever Americans come to invest, that place has a future” (B92)
“We resolved trade relations with the United States back in 1881, and we haven’t had such an important agreement since then,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said yesterday during the signing of joint declaration with US Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina talks Richard Grenell and DFC representatives in Belgrade, B92 reports.
“This is an important day for us. Almost 140 years had passed since then, to make a significant economic agreement with the United States,” Vucic said in a public address to the media.
He added that Serbia opened the door with people from the USA and thanked US President Donald Trump “who wanted to hear and listen to us, even though not everyone wanted to hear and listen”.
“On the other hand, those talks were not always easy, but we respect everything, and we will fulfill our commitments in the agreement.”
He said the doors have been opened to renew Serbia’s old friendship with the US, adding that the talks in Washington were not easy. “Serbia will meet all its obligations in the agreement,” Vucic said. He said that the idea is for Serbia to develop economic relations with its Western Balkans partners. “We want to have the four great freedoms – freedom of movement of people, goods, capital and services,” he said.
He said that many said that our trip to Washington and the agreement had something to do with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but that the arrival of the DFC in Serbia said the opposite.
Here, as he says, is an American team of important people from various sectors of the US Government who are there with the desire to be more present in the region.
See more at: https://bit.ly/3hVwUxN
Serbia’s PM Brnabic: New era in economic and political relationship with US (Beta, N1, RTS)
Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s outgoing Prime Minister, said on Wednesday that a new era in both economic and political relations with the US was open and that she could not remember when they were so close.
“I don’t know that we had such a relationship if we don’t go back to President Woodrow Wilson’s time,” she told the state RTS TV, adding that on Tuesday Serbia hosted the “strongest American delegation,” ever.
Asked about political aspects of the talks in Belgrade, Brnabic said the economic issues dominated the meetings, but that the better economic life could open space for negotiations about other topics.
“It’s now up to us to show how ready we are to have projects as soon as possible and what ideas our companies have, Brnabic said, referring to the cooperation with the US Developing Finance Corporation (DFC) which opened the office in Belgrade on Tuesday.
She added the plans should be worth several billion dollars. Brnabic said the main issues included the infrastructure, a scheme for small and middle-sized companies, mini-Schengen, development of agriculture and DFC investments in industrial zones and agriculture.
See at: https://bit.ly/2ZZ9ykC
Dacic on Kosovo: Economy drives but … (Blic, RTS)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that it was true that the economy could have a driving force in solving the problem between Belgrade and Pristina, but he added that Serbia would not get out of this problem until a political solution was reached on a key issue, reported Belgrade based daily Blic, quoting RTS.
According to Dacic, the next step should be to see what possible political solutions are, and that “according to the strength of those behind them to go for that a just solution to this issue needs to be accepted.”
He said that here he saw a difference between the Washington and Dayton Accords, and that the Dayton Accords addressed those issues.
– We have not come yet to that here, but we have seen a pattern of how it can be reached, and that is precisely the Dayton Agreement and the Washington Agreement. And how is that? By putting pressure on the party that will not accept a fair or correct solution. That is what the EU lacks – an iron fist – Dacic said last night in the RTS Show ”Oko”.
He pointed out that the EU could not force Pristina to implement what it signed in 2013.
When asked what the address was for those next steps, Dacic said that, officially seen, it was Brussels.
– Regardless of where this will happen, it is impossible without the participation of the most important international factors, and those are the EU and the great powers that have a veto in the UN Security Council. So, Washington, Moscow and Beijing, but also, of course, Paris and London – said Dacic.
According to FM Dacic, the EU did not look favorably on what was happening and that it did not like that “someone now has a dominant role, initiative and success.”
– Especially success, because they lack success – said Dacic.
He added that the big question was whether it was more favorable for Serbia to resolve the Kosovo issue based on “proposals from the EU or Grenell”.
– This is a big question having in mind the position of Germany and all others, who think that everything should remain as it is and that Serbia should only recognize Kosovo and having in mind the flexible position of the American administration which starts from the interests of both peoples and which is ready to talk about all that – said Dacic.
He stated that sometimes it seemed to him that it was easier to talk to the American administration.
DFC on Boehler’s visit to Serbia (B92)
US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced on its Twitter account the reason for the stay of its executive director Adam Boehler in Serbia, B92 reports.
The DFC announced that Adam Boehler was in Serbia in order to promote economic growth and development in that country in cooperation with the Serbian authorities and American partners.
“Adam Boehler is working, alongside Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and U.S. partners to advance DFC’s commitment to supporting economic growth and development through private sector investment”, the US Corporation’s Twitter account said.
DFC also posted on its Twitter photos of Boehler with Serbian officials and the White House special envoy for negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina, Richard Grenell, during the official part of yesterday’s visit to Serbia.
See at: https://bit.ly/3cuXRqX
Mladjan Djordjevic from the Oslobodjenje movement: Vucic sold Kosovo for American loans (Danas)
The president of the Oslobodjenje (Liberation) movement Mladjan Djordjevic assessed today that the opening of the office of the American Development Fund in Belgrade was “another deception of Serbian citizens stemmed from the so-called Washington agreement” and that Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic actually “sold Kosovo for American loans”, reported Belgrade based daily Danas.
“Now it turns out that this is not about any billions of dollars of investments, nor about direct financial assistance as originally intended, but exclusively about loans and new debts that the citizens of Serbia will have to repay,” Djordjevic emphasized in a written statement, with the address the “Free Serbian Mountains” written on it, from which it was sent, reported the daily.
Djordjevic pointed out that “every man in Serbia will repay three average salaries for this agreement”.
“It is not enough for Vucic that in Washington he served Kosovo on a platter recognition of Israel and that got us into quarrel with Russia and China, but he is now acting as a seller of loans for American banks, who was given the task of giving new debts to Serbian citizens,” Djordjevic wrote.
He stated that Vucic, but also the Minister of Finance Sinisa Mali and the President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce Marko Cadez, as the economic part of the delegation in Washington, owe the citizens an answer, “where is the promised direct aid and billions of investments they talked about, and how these turned into loans?”.
“Also, how is it possible that Vucic’s tabloids announced 10 billion dollars from Trump a year ago, if Vucic has not already secretly negotiated the sale of Kosovo and Metohija with Thaci and Grenell?” Djordjevic asked.
He said that “instead of $ 1,000 in direct aid per citizen, economic measures were reduced to $ 1,000 in additional debt for each person in Serbia”.
Daily Danas wrote that Immediately after signing the Washington document, Djordjevic made accusations about the existence of a package of direct financial aid to every citizen of Serbia in the amount of $ 1,000, which, based on his private information, was “deleted from the public text of the agreement during negotiations.”
SSP: There are no American investments, only loans so Albanian can connect with Europe (Danas)
Serbian opposition Freedom and Justice Party (SSP) led by Dragan Djilas assessed yesterday there would be no new American investments in Serbia, adding all those claiming otherwise deceive the people in fact, Danas daily reports.
“Opening of the US DFC Office means that the US would give Serbia loans in the amount of several billions by which we would pay American construction companies to work on infrastructure. And loans are not investments. Investments mean that someone invests the money into a business that should return investment and make profit. There is nothing of it here”, SSP said in a statement.
It added that Serbia would get indebted in amount of 3.7 billion US dollars so Pristina can get connected with a high-way to Europe, and Albania with a railway.
“Each Serbian household would be indebted 1.500 EUR for the project of connecting Albanians with Europe. If it was in the interest of the US that Albania connects with Europe or that their companies work in the region, let the US finance reconstruction and in return it would get a concession for that section. This is the only fair arrangement, because Serbia has no interest to get additionally indebted for such purposes”, SSP added.
SPO praises journalists who refuse to publish allegedly leaked documents (KoSSev)
Amid a three-week upheaval caused by an alleged leak of thousands of files from the Specialist Chambers, yesterday, for the first time, the Special Prosecutor’s Office made a public statement – to confirm they received media inquires, to praise “ethical journalists“, and reiterate that they are committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting individuals who commit crimes, “including the disclosure of the identity of individuals who may be called before the court or any information that could lead to their identification“. However, there is still no confirmation as to whether documents from this court were actually leaked, KoSsev portal reports.
“Over the last number of weeks, my Office has received many questions from journalists about statements made by the KLA War Veterans Association, which has on a number of occasions engaged in activities which I believe are aimed at undermining the proper administration of justice“, reads the Special Prosecutor’s statement.
“During this time, I have also observed the commendable professionalism and ethical integrity of Kosovo’s 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“, it also says.
“I want to take this opportunity to commend the ethical journalists throughout Kosovo who have refused to publish documents provided to them, as well as the multiple journalists who have voluntarily provided us with the documents they received from the KLA War Veterans Association and publicly acknowledged that participating in disseminating such information could be a crime under the Kosovo Criminal Code“.
The SPO is committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting individuals who commit any such crimes, including the disclosure of the identity of individuals who may be called before the court or any information that could lead to their identification.
See more at: https://bit.ly/32W8wYB
Demolition of school in Drajcici village halted (Radio KIM)
The works have been halted and the school will not be demolished, Kosovo Minister for Communities and Returns Dalibor Jevic said on his Twitter profile in reference to 116 years old school in the village of Drajcici, near Prizren, that local authorities intended to demolish, Radio KIM reports.
“The Serb school in the village of Drajcice, 116 years old will not be demolished. Teacher Toma (Tomic) likewise all of us, is pleased with such an outcome and decision of the local authorities”, Jevtic said.
RTV KIM reported on several occasions that the primary school in Drajcici village since 2013 was threatened with demolition.
The Gazivode/Ujmani issue and a part of the solution (KoSSev)
By Dusan Janjic
The Agreement signed between Serbia and Kosovo in Washington DC on September 4th, 2020, supports the economic and overall improvement of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. Normalization will not resolve all the problems that have accumulated throughout history, including the past several decades, but it is one of the key prerequisites for providing a prosperous and stable future to all citizens in the region and the Western Balkans.
One argument for this assessment of the Washington Agreement is the agreed joint management of resources of Gazivode/Ujmani Lake.
Certain politicians and a part of the general public have used this agreement to deliberate on the “final solution” regarding the status and territory. This stems from the very fact that this artificial lake was built in the former common state, the dissolution of which has not yet been completed. The project was designed and prepared in the late sixties by the “Energoprojekt” construction company from Belgrade, and implemented in the period 1973 – 1977 by “Hidro energetika” – “Hidro gradnja” company from Belgrade. Using Serbia’s funding for the development of Kosovo, a hydroelectric power plant was built in 1988, producing annually 100,000,000 kW/h of electricity. For many this would be sufficient to come to the conclusion that both the lake and the dam are solely Serbian property.
The dam was built with funding from the World Bank, close to $100 million USD. This loan was partially repaid by the former Yugoslavia, and after its dissolution Serbia assumed the remaining debt of $45 million USD.
These projects were part of the program for the development of underdeveloped areas of the former Yugoslavia, and Kosovo was the least developed area, both in Serbia and in Yugoslavia. Regulations in force at the time stipulated that such an investment belonged to the socio-political community in which it was constructed, that is, to the then province of Kosovo and the municipality of Zubin Potok. For that reason, a legally valid solution to the issue of ownership will be only provided in the process of succession, which implies Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo. The Washington Agreement allows some of the existing issues to be resolved, such as the compensation to Serbia for the loan, without prejudging the “final solution”, and gives an opportunity to establish the facts and eliminate the practice of exchanging accusations between Belgrade and Pristina about stealing electricity or making a profit out of it. These issues belong under the umbrella of the initiated Brussels dialogue on the topic of mutual financial and property claims. The Washington Agreement is an important voice of support and encouragement for the clarification of these issues and should not be used as an alibi for blocking the Brussels dialogue.
See at: https://bit.ly/2RTutkN
Bosnian Serb Leader’s Croatia Visit Highlights Region’s Shifting Geopolitics (Balkan Insight)
The recent US-brokered Kosovo-Serbia agreement has changed the balance of power in the Balkans – and both Bosnia and the Bosniaks could be the biggest losers.
Last week’s visit to Croatia by Milorad Dodik, Serbian member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, leader of the ruling Bosnian Serb part, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, and one of the most vocal pro-Russian politicians in the Balkans, caught the region by surprise.
The idea that a Bosnian Serb leader could seek Croatia’s help against alleged attempts by Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) to marginalize both the Bosnian Croat and Serbian parties in Bosnia break old unwritten rules in Balkan politics.
For this reason, the visit generated heated debate in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia alike, where most officials, experts and media took their usual ethnopolitical sides and engaged in the same old zero-sum games.
See at: https://bit.ly/360cC3W
Hague Prosecutors Criticise Kosovo War Veterans over Document Leaks (Balkan Insight)
The Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office accused the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans’ Organisation of undermining justice after three batches of court documents related to war crime cases were leaked.
The Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, which is probing wartime and post-war crimes, said on Tuesday that the Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans’ Organisation, which claims to have received three sets of leaked court documents this month, has been acting against the interests of justice.
The KLA War Veterans’ Organisation “has on a number of occasions engaged in activities which I believe are aimed at undermining the proper administration of justice”, Specialist Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Christopher Bennett said in a statement.
The statement was issued after the War Veterans’ Organisation said it received an anonymous delivery of a third set of documents from the so-called Special Court on Tuesday.
The head of the War Veterans’ Organisation, Hysni Gucati, said the documents include several indictments that mention names that should not be made public.
Gucati told KTV that the Special Court is biased against Kosovo Albanians and accused it of incompetence.
“This court has lost credibility when documentation comes out of it,” Gucati said.
See at: https://bit.ly/3iYu5NH
Next year in Jerusalem: the Serbian Embassy and Kosovo go on a pilgrimage with Trump (opendemocracy.net)
The Trump administration’s Christmas wishlist for one corner of the Eastern Mediterranean.
On September 4, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić met with the PM of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti in the White House, in the presence of Donald Trump, to sign the “Economic Normalization Agreements between Belgrade (Serbia) and Pristina (Kosovo)”. Trump celebrated Hoti and Vučić as “brave men” for signing the “historic” trilateral agreement. Closer analysis reveals this “historic” encounter as yet another PR gimmick of Trump’s in the runup to the US presidential elections. In a sense, perhaps this serves a purpose similar to the grandiloquence surrounding the recent Israel-UAE peace deal, which Thomas Friedman of the NY Times called “an earthquake” for Peace.
According to the text of the treaty, the most radical section calls for a moratorium, during which Pristina and Belgrade will both stop their tireless lobbying either for or against an internationally recognized status of Kosovo–for one year.
See at: https://bit.ly/2FVK0hb
A high-level conference about the Balkan Euro-Atlantic integration will be held in Rome (EWB)
On Monday, 28th of September a high-level conference “Balkan Perspectives 2020 – The fight for a Timely Inclusion” will be held in Rome. The conference is organised by the NATO Defense College Foundation, in co-operation with the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the European Commission and the NATO Defense College.
“The event marks the Foundation’s annual initiative dedicated to the Western Balkans as part of the Strategic Balkans project, launched in 2014 with the aim to regularly gather practitioners and partner organisations focusing on the area”, states the organisier’s press release.
Overall, eighteen highly qualified speakers will be attending the conference, in-person or in virtual connection.
See at: https://bit.ly/2ZXi5oc
COVID-19 Puts Balkan Winemakers Over a Barrel (Balkan Insight)
Balkan wines have been making inroads on the global wine scene in recent years. But a surplus of unsold wine due to the COVID-19 pandemic could prove devastating.
Under a hot sun, a rocky path winds up a hillside to century-old vines that testify to a long history of winemaking in Zupa, southern Serbia.
In years gone by, the songs of grape-pickers echoed through this picturesque region and each village in it boasted its own poljana, a traditional cottage where locals made and stored wine.
See at: https://bit.ly/2S48jwp
Environment minister ‘ashamed’ of river degradation (Prishtina Insight)
On Tuesday, environment minister Blerim Kuci met with representatives from a number of civil society organizations including Pishtaret, KOSID, and Mos ma prek Lumbardhin, as well as residents of the Decani valley, who expressed their discontent over the environmental damage caused by the Austrian company KelKos.
KelKos has built and operates several hydropower plants in the Decani valley, which is part of the Bjeshket e Nemuna National Park, and protected by the Law on National Parks.
During the meeting, Shpresa Loshaj, an activist from western Kosovo, asked the minister to ensure KelKos fulfills its obligations to the Municipality of Decan before being granted a new water and environmental permit.
Read more at: https://bit.ly/32ZDNtT
Bregu says region could save millions with integrated border crossings (N1)
The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretary General Majlinda Bregu said on Tuesday that the countries of the Western Balkans would save EUR 800 million a year if they had joint customs control at border crossings or two euros per hour of wait at borders per truck, N1 reports.
Bregu added that the six governments of the region, CEFTA and the European Commission decided to launch the Green Crossing initiative which would allow the fast movement of goods across borders and do away with the long waits facing truckers.
Officials from CEFTA and the customs services of Serbia and North Macedonia as well as the Transport Union visited the Presevo-Tabanovci border crossing between Serbia and North Macedonia to see the effects of joint customs control. That is Serbia’s only integrated border crossing.
Bregu said that the countries of the Western Balkans should agree to keep border crossing open 24 hours a day, saving millions in delays. Transport Community official Matej Zakonjsek voiced the hope that this will be possible across the region as well as with European Union member states.
Activists on bikes protest against gender-based violence (media)
A group of human rights activists protested today in front of the Government of Kosovo demanding adequate institutional response in delivering justice for victims of gender-based violence.
The activists protested by riding along Pristina’s main streets in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.