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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, September 25, 2020

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Albanian Language Media:

• COVID-19: 49 new cases, one death (media)
• EULEX raids KLA war veterans’ offices (media)
• Head of KLA war veterans, Hysni Gucati, arrested by EULEX (media)
• Specialist Chambers do not comment on today’s operation (Kallxo)
• Haradinaj: Kosovo has always stood on the side of justice (media)
• EU confirms: Next meeting in Brussels on 28 September (Klan)
• Assembly fails to pass law on economic recovery (media)
• PDK pushes for approval of its version of economic recovery plan (media)
• No quorum to vote draft law on KLA values (media)
Serbian Language Media:
• Four infected with Covid-19, five cured in Serbian communities in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio)
• Vucic ahead of meeting Erdoğan: Turkey is one of most significant power in world (media)
• Drecun: First arrest of Court for KLA crimes crucial step, new indictments underway (RTS)
• “EU not responsible for agenda of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue” (Tanjug, Radio KIM)
• Dacic to Lajcak: When would Brussels deal with ZSO? (NMagazin, TV Prva, Beta)
• Djuric: On Monday talks at technical level only (Radio kontakt plus)
• Vucic: “They will prepare a new March 17th and they’ll finish the job” (B92)
• “Trump Bridge“ over Gazivode: Serbs grateful to Trump for “bringing peace“ (KoSSev)
• KEK violated Law on use of languages (Radio KIM)
• Trial of Nenad Arsic continues (Radio KIM)
Opinion:
• Israel in the Balkans: Why did Serbia and Kosovo sign up to Trump’s deal? (middleeasteye.net)
• Russia and Serbia: A Partnership Past its Prime (RUSI, media)
• Next year in Jerusalem: The Serbian Embassy and Kosovo go on pilgrimage with Trump (diem25.0rg)
International:
• Week in Review: The Possible and the Impossible (Balkan Insight)
• Adam Boehler On New Era Of Serbia-US Relations (The Pavlovic Today)
• Undermining EU enlargement: The destructive effects of state capture in the Wester Balkans (N1, clingendael.org)
• Hague Prosecutors Publish Kosovo Guerrilla’s War Crimes Indictment (Balkan Insight)
• Ex-army leader is first suspect arrested by Kosovo war crimes tribunal (The Guardian)
• PM’s Welcome For ‘Lake Trump’ Proposal Baffles Kosovo Officials (Balkan Insight)
Humanitarian/Development:
• Gracanica municipality donates computers, UNMIK tablet devices to primary and secondary schools (Radio kontakt plus)

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Albanian Language Media:

  • COVID-19: 49 new cases, one death (media)
  • EULEX raids KLA war veterans’ offices (media)
  • Head of KLA war veterans, Hysni Gucati, arrested by EULEX (media)
  • Specialist Chambers do not comment on today’s operation (Kallxo)
  • Haradinaj: Kosovo has always stood on the side of justice (media)
  • EU confirms: Next meeting in Brussels on 28 September (Klan)
  • Assembly fails to pass law on economic recovery (media)
  • PDK pushes for approval of its version of economic recovery plan (media)
  • No quorum to vote draft law on KLA values (media)

Serbian Language Media:

  • Four infected with Covid-19, five cured in Serbian communities in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio) 
  • Vucic ahead of meeting Erdoğan: Turkey is one of most significant power in world (media)
  • Drecun: First arrest of Court for KLA crimes crucial step, new indictments underway (RTS)
  • “EU not responsible for agenda of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue” (Tanjug, Radio KIM)
  • Dacic to Lajcak: When would Brussels deal with ZSO? (NMagazin, TV Prva, Beta)
  • Djuric: On Monday talks at technical level only (Radio kontakt plus)
  • Vucic: “They will prepare a new March 17th and they’ll finish the job” (B92)
  • “Trump Bridge“ over Gazivode: Serbs grateful to Trump for “bringing peace“ (KoSSev)
  • KEK violated Law on use of languages (Radio KIM)
  • Trial of Nenad Arsic continues (Radio KIM)

Opinion:

  • Israel in the Balkans: Why did Serbia and Kosovo sign up to Trump’s deal? (middleeasteye.net)
  • Russia and Serbia: A Partnership Past its Prime (RUSI, media)
  • Next year in Jerusalem: The Serbian Embassy and Kosovo go on pilgrimage with Trump (diem25.0rg)

International:

  • Week in Review: The Possible and the Impossible (Balkan Insight)
  • Adam Boehler On New Era Of Serbia-US Relations (The Pavlovic Today)
  • Undermining EU enlargement: The destructive effects of state capture in the Wester Balkans (N1, clingendael.org)
  • Hague Prosecutors Publish Kosovo Guerrilla’s War Crimes Indictment (Balkan Insight)
  • Ex-army leader is first suspect arrested by Kosovo war crimes tribunal (The Guardian)
  • PM’s Welcome For ‘Lake Trump’ Proposal Baffles Kosovo Officials (Balkan Insight)

Humanitarian/Development:

  • Gracanica municipality donates computers, UNMIK tablet devices to primary and secondary schools (Radio kontakt plus)

 

 

Albanian Language Media

 

COVID-19: 49 new cases, one death (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced today that 664 samples were tested during the last 24-hour period of which 46 resulted positive for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, one death and 101 recoveries were recorded over the same timeframe. 

Health Minister Armend Zemaj said that considering the recent decline of the number of new infections, he will recommend the Government of Kosovo to ease restrictions put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19.

EULEX raids KLA war veterans’ offices (media)

The offices of the KLA war veterans’ associations have been raided today by EULEX police.

Several online media outlets highlighted that the police operation comes a day after the arrest of the former KLA commander Salih Mustafa by the Specialist Chambers.

Secretary of the KLA associations, Faton Klinaku said EULEX’s action was unlawful and that he didn’t know the reasons behind it. “I was in the office, the gentlemen did not present any search warrant. If our state fails to take action against these criminals, we will have to fight them like we did Yugoslavia,” Klinaku is quoted in the Telegrafi news website.

Nasim Haradinaj, deputy chairman of the KLA War Veterans’ Associations, commented on today’s search operation carried out by EULEX saying that it ‘undermines’ Kosovo’s institutions.  “We are dealing with a humiliation of our country and government,” he said.

Koha reported that around 50 members of EULEX police are involved in the operation and that Kosovo Police forces stood outside the premises of the KLA war veterans while the operation took place. 

Head of KLA war veterans, Hysni Gucati, arrested by EULEX (media)

Chairman of the KLA War Veterans’ Associations, Hysni Gucati, has been arrested today by EULEX during a search operation carried out at the organisation’s premises.

Gucati’s lawyer, Tome Gashi, said he expects his client will be transferred to the Specialist Chambers in The Hague.

The reason for Gucati’s arrest was not made public.

Specialist Chambers do not comment on today’s operation (Kallxo)

Spokesperson for the Specialist Chambers Christopher Bennet did not wish to comment on today’s EULEX operation.

“We do not wish to comment any further,” he told Kallxo.

Haradinaj: Kosovo has always stood on the side of justice (media)

Leader of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) Ramush Haradinaj reacted to today’s operation carried out by EULEX at the offices of KLA War Veterans’ Associations.

Haradinaj reiterated the view that the publication of files alleged to pertain to the work of the Specialist Chambers was wrong and “would mostly harm our country, including those accused.”

“The attempt to create the impression that Kosovo is mobilised to obstruct justice is wrong. We were and are not on the wrong side of justice,” he said on Facebook adding: “I call on law enforcement authorities, local and international, to respect rights of all. No accused will evade justice. I consider there is no reason for operations and raids because everyone will voluntarily respond to justice.”

“Kosovo is always with the law and the victims because it was itself a victim of injustices. The KLA and the people of Kosovo have proved they always stood on the side of justice, the truth, and international justice. This has never changed!”

EU confirms: Next meeting in Brussels on 28 September (Klan)

EU foreign policy spokesperson Peter Stano said there is no crisis in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and that the process is making headway.

“The dialogue is not in a crisis, we are carrying on. The EU is committed to this and we also have clear messages from both sides of being committed to continuing dialogue,” Stano said adding that the upcoming meeting between the parties will take place on 28 September.

Stano also said that the issue of the Association of Serb-majority municipalities will probably be addressed in the course of the dialogue but not at the next week’s meeting. “To be absolutely clear, the issue has to be resolved as part of a comprehensive agreement as agreed in the first meeting of leaders in July and confirmed at the last summit on 7 September.”

Stano said the meeting of the highest political level between President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti will follow that of experts. 

Assembly fails to pass law on economic recovery (media)

For the third time, Kosovo Assembly MPs have failed to endorse the law on economic recovery, online media report.

60 MPs took part in the voting, not enough to pass the legislation.

Media meanwhile report that another attempt of the ruling coalition to pass the law during the afternoon session of the Assembly resulted unsuccessful.

PDK pushes for approval of its version of economic recovery plan (media)

The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) has criticised the government’s proposed law on economic recovery saying it is not comprehensive and does not include all categories. 

Head of the PDK parliamentary group, Bedri Hamza, said at a press conference that there are two draft laws on economic recovery, that of the government and the PDK. “We propose to sit down together and come up with a meaningful law, good and sustainable. The law proposed by the government lacks substance,” Hamza is quoted by Koha.

No quorum to vote draft law on KLA values (media)

The draft law on Kosovo Liberation Army values did not pass at the Kosovo Assembly due to lack of quorum.

Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani concluded there is no quorum after 36 MPs voted in favour of the draft law, with no absentions or votes against.  

The draft law is expected to be included in the agenda of the upcoming session of the Kosovo Assembly.

 

 

Serbian Language Media

 

Four infected with Covid-19, five cured in Serbian communities in Kosovo (Kontakt plus radio) 

The Crisis Staff of the Municipality of Kosovska Mitrovica announced today that four newly infected people were registered in Serb areas in Kosovo and five cases of recovery have been recorded, reports Kontakt plus radio.

Out of 31 processed samples, one new case of infection was recorded in North Mitrovica, two in Zvecan and one in Gnjilane. 

As for the recovered persons, one is from northern Mitrovica, two from Leposavic and two from Strpce.

A total of 4 positive PCR-confirmed individuals were hospitalized and all were treated at the Health Center in northern Mitrovica.

The measure of home isolation was determined for 38 people.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 5,224 people have been tested, of which 1002 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

There are currently 42 active cases. So far, 922 people have been cured.

Total number of patients by municipalities: North Mitrovica 292, Zvecan 159, Leposavic 178, and Zubin Potok 109.

In Serbian areas south of the Ibar, a total of 264 patients have been registered so far.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, 38 people have died in Serb areas in Kosovo.

Vucic ahead of meeting Erdoğan: Turkey is one of most significant power in world (media)

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said in Istanbul on Friday it was essential for his country to have excellent communications with Turkey, which he described as one of the most significant powers in the world.

Ahead of meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vucic told reporters in Istanbul that the demographic, economic, cultural and other Turkish potentials were enormous.

“It’s important to have good relations with them. They are close to Serbia, have great influence in the region, and we are trying to preserve the best relationship which we will improve in the future,” Vucic said.

He added that his talks with Erdoğan would focus on all “burning issues,” economic topics, relations in the Mediterranean and the normalisation of Belgrade – Pristina economic ties agreed upon in Washington on September 4.  

See at: https://bit.ly/2RV1ddk

Drecun: First arrest of Court for KLA crimes crucial step, new indictments underway (RTS)

Chairman of the Serbian National Assembly Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun told RTS that the first arrest of the Specialist Court for KLA crimes is a crucial step, adding indictments including Hashim Thaci, Kadri Veselli and others are expected.

Speaking for RTS news edition, Drecun said the first confirmed indictment of the Specialist Court was finally made, and that the arrest of a former chief of intelligence Salih Mustafa is a crucial step in punishing those responsible (for the crimes).

He underlined that the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office continues investigations and works on gathering new evidence, which means that new indictments are underway.

He also opined that delivery of the alleged documentation from the Specialist Court to the KLA war veterans compromised the entire process of the work of the Specialist Prosecution and may impact the future proceedings and trials which are expected to take place.

Drecun expressed hope, that the Specialist Prosecution, in addition to prosecuting those responsible for the crimes committed by KLA against Albanians, would also prosecute those responsible for the crimes against the Serbian people.

“EU not responsible for agenda of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue” (Tanjug, Radio KIM)

Regarding announcements that only a technical round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina, with exclusion of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities from the agenda, would be held next week, Brussels said that “dates and agenda” are in the hands of the two sides exclusively, Radio KIM reports citing Tanjug news agency.

EU spokesperson Peter Stano said it is up to the EU, as a mediator, to only enable the agreement of Belgrade and Pristina, and not impose solutions or comment on the process.

“The agenda of every meeting and dates of the meetings are subject to the agreement of the two sides. The EU works hard and offers its best services in order to enable two sides to agree on how to progress in the dialogue, and how, to eventually reach a final, comprehensive and legally binding agreement on normalization of relations”, Stano said.

Tanjug earlier reported there were problems in organizing the new round of political talks at high level between Belgrade and Pristina, announced by the end of September, due to refusal of the Kosovo side to discuss establishment of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities (ZSO).

EU Special Representative for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak said on Thursday the talks at the level of experts would take place on September 28, however, without ZSO on the agenda, due to “unpreparedness of one side to discuss it”, Tanjug news agency recalled. 

Dacic to Lajcak: When would Brussels deal with ZSO? (NMagazin, TV Prva, Beta)

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dacic said today that it was striking that there were no reactions from Brussels, which was sub-signatory of the agreement which envisages the formation of the Community of Serbian Municipalities (ZSO), and which was not implemented even after seven years. 

Dacic stated for Belgrade based TV Prva, commenting on the statement of the EU special representative for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Miroslav Lajcak, that technical negotiations will continue in Brussels on Monday, but that he will not deal with the ZSO.

“And when they will deal with it, I ask Lajcak,” said Dacic.

What was the purpose of negotiating anything with Pristina, if signed was not respected, Dacic asked. 

“Does that mean now that what was now signed in Washington will not be realized by Pristina,” Dacic asked.

He reminded that a moratorium was agreed in Washington on activities for withdrawing recognition and the Pristina’s activities in the other direction, and that after that, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of “so-called Kosovo” sent a letter to Bosnia and Herzegovina asking to recognize Kosovo.

“I handed over that letter to Richard Grenell through Vucic, and he immediately called Hoti and told him all sorts of things because Pristina does not respect the agreement,” said Dacic. 

He assessed that the EU either won’t or could not play the role of an “iron fist” to force someone, in this case Pristina, to accept something.

The situation with the United States was different, Dacic believed, they had an iron fist.

“If the United States says something, Pristina will accept it. Pristina to oppose the United States, that is ridiculous,” said the head of Serbian diplomacy.

He pointed out that the United States now sees that it was possible to reach a compromise between Belgrade and Pristina if both sides have interests, and that was why Grenell left the issue of status aside and insisted on economic topics that are useful for everyone.

Answering the question whether the agreement in Washington could jeopardize Serbia’s relations with Russia and China, Dacic said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took care of every move of Serbia every day so that a relationship with one great power would not harm the relationship with another.

“I think we are succeeding in that. That is dribbling within a small space, and I am still fit for the dribbling and I am always ready to fight,” said Dacic.

Djuric: On Monday talks at technical level only (Radio kontakt plus)

Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric told Tanjug news agency that Serbian delegation would travel to Brussels on Monday for the talks at technical level relating to the return of Serbian properties in Kosovo.

He also said there would be no high-level meeting next week.

“It is now necessary and of crucial importance for the future of the dialogue that Pristina demonstrates in practice its readiness to work on establishing the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities and we shall insist on it at every meeting, and at every level, including the one on Monday”, Djuric said.   

Vucic: “They will prepare a new March 17th and they’ll finish the job” (B92)

President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, said from Turkey that the Albanians in Kosovo prepare for some new March 17, when they would expel the remaining 95.000 Serbs.

Asked whether there will be a continuation of the dialogue at the highest level in Brussels at all, since Pristina says it will not, Vucic answered that what he has been talking about for a long time and what he warned both the EU and international officials about is happening right now.

“And that is that Albanians do not think that Serbs should have anything in Kosovo. They think that those who allowed them to create a state will just push a button and Serbia will only recognize the so-called independent Kosovo,” Vucic said adding:

“They will produce a new March 17, with the aim of expelling the 95.000 Serbs who remained and thus finish their assignment,” President of Serbia commented from Istanbul, where he is expected to meet with the Turkish President.

See at: https://bit.ly/333wWiI

“Trump Bridge“ over Gazivode: Serbs grateful to Trump for “bringing peace“ (KoSSev)

The inscription “Trump Bridge,“ as well as a banner written in English which proclaims that Kosovo Serbs thank the US president for “bringing peace,” appeared in the early afternoon today on the Brnjak bridge over Lake Gazivode. In addition to this, the end point of the lake on the Kosovo side, Grenell’s idea of “Lake Trump“ is also realized at the point where the lake begins. The local self-government of the municipality of Zubin Potok still has no knowledge about these inscriptions, KoSSev portal reports.

According to a currently available video and photo material shared on social networks, the banner with the words “Trump Bridge” is displayed over the bridge arches. On the road of the bridge, there is another banner, also written in English, which reads: “President Trump, Kosovo Serbs thank you for bringing peace.“

Brnjak residents confirmed for KoSSev that the banners are displayed on the bridge.

On the other hand, in a short statement for KoSSev, the mayor of Zubin Potok, Srdjan Vulovic said that he had no knowledge of this initiative, adding that he is not currently in Zubin Potok due to private obligations.

The Brnjak bridge over Lake Gazivode is one of the trademarks of the municipality of Zubin Potok. It is located on the line which separates Kosovo and central Serbia.

See at: https://bit.ly/33RnD4E

KEK violated Law on use of languages (Radio KIM)

Kosovo Electric Corporation (KEK) recently announced vacancy for the new positions in the Albanian language only, thus violating the Law on use of languages, the Office of Language Commissioner said, Radio KIM reports.

The Office reacted based on complaints of the citizens relating to the vacancies for the new positions, published on the official KEK web page.

The public vacancy for 171 new positions was published on September 14, 2020 and includes the information and templates in the Albanian language only, the Office announced, adding that the link to the vacancies in Serbian language lacked necessary information. At the same time, it was also written that there is no active call for hiring at all.

“This way KEC deprived members of other communities of the access to important information and employment opportunities”, the Office of Language Commissioner said, recalling that all public institutions are obliged to publish all information of public significance in the both official languages, e.g. Albanian and Serbian.

The Office instructed KEC that in line with the law publish the vacancy in the Serbian language and extend the deadline for application so that all potential candidates are offered equal conditions. 

Trial of Nenad Arsic continues (Radio KIM)

The special department of the Basic Court in Pristina continues the trial of Nenad Arsic from Caglavica, accused of committing a war crime against the civilian population, Radio KIM reports.

Arsic is accused that he as a member of the Yugoslav police, during the war in 1999 in Pristina’s settlement Esmir, mistreated and beat up two members of Shala family, forcing them to drink rakija and sing a song “Oh Serbia dearest mother, I shall always regard you as mine”, Radio KIM reports.

“At today’s hearing the court planned to hear several witnesses with circumstantial knowledge about the case, and after that on October 1, defense witnesses would be heard, respectively couple Shaqiri from Vrnjacka Banja who should confirm Nenad’s alibi”, lawyer Dejan A. Vasic said.  

 

 

Opinion

 

Israel in the Balkans: Why did Serbia and Kosovo sign up to Trump’s deal? (middleeasteye.net)

Trump’s White House normalisation agreement has cemented Israel’s status as a new geopolitical player in the Balkans

On 4 September, the White House was the place of a strange political proceeding. US President Donald Trump observed the signing of an economic normalisation deal by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovan Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti. 

The meeting was not strange because Serbia signed an agreement concerning an entity, Kosovo, that it does not recognise and still formally considers its territory. It was not because it is dubious as to whether the signed documents fit the description of a legally binding international agreement. 

What was strange was that the country that profited most was one that had nothing to do with the territorial dispute in the Balkans: Israel. The deal stipulates that Serbia will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Kosovo also agreed to mutual recognition with Israel, followed by the opening of an embassy to Jerusalem.

See at: https://bit.ly/362u4EZ

Russia and Serbia: A Partnership Past its Prime (RUSI, media)

After an undiplomatic statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson about the Serbian President, Moscow apologised to Belgrade. Was this an isolated incident or a sign of a deeper rift between Russia and Serbia?

Earlier this month, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti met in the White House. Alongside US President Donald Trump, the two signed an agreement on economic normalisation between their governments, in the hope that in the future this will lead to a final political settlement.

Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, commented on the meeting with characteristically blunt style. Zakharova posted photos of Vučić sitting facing Trump and compared this with the infamous Sharon Stone ‘crossed legs’ scene from the film ‘Basic Instinct’. This episode should not be dismissed as merely Zakharova’s diplomatic gaffe, for it is a sign that the Serbo–Russian partnership is on a downward spiral which began before the meeting in Washington.

BROTHERHOOD?

It is common to describe relations between Belgrade and Moscow as a traditional alliance between two Slavic and Orthodox nations, but this description is historically and geopolitically inaccurate. Serbo–Russian relations have always depended on the constellation of strategic interests and on who is in power in Belgrade and Moscow. The new partnership between the two countries commenced in 2008, after Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and the global financial crisis. Burdened with the unresolved Kosovo dispute and stranded on the periphery of the West, Serbia moved closer to Russia to use Moscow’s UN Security Council veto to block international recognition of Kosovo and to gain leverage over the West. Serbian domestic politics played a part in warmer relations with Moscow, in particular domestic sensitivity to the Kosovo issue and the popularity of Russia and its President Vladimir Putin.

See at: https://bit.ly/2G5arkL

Next year in Jerusalem: The Serbian Embassy and Kosovo go on pilgrimage with Trump (diem25.0rg)

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 Normalisation 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 the NY Times Thomas Friedman 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 recognised status of Kosovo–for one year.

Procrastination does not solve anything, but it will help the Washington policy hivemind to not think about the Balkans, and will simplify the first troubled year of a possible second term of the Trump administration (also  “an earthquake” but in a more calamitous sense than cheerleader Thomas Friedman intends).

Upon closer scrutiny, the logic of the agreement falls apart. Amounting to a random hodgepodge of promises and obligations, it looks more like the Trump administration’s Christmas wishlist for that corner of the Eastern Mediterranean, rather than a coherent document. Recognisable “Art of the Deal” style points include a ban on 5G equipment sold by “untrusted vendors” (Trumpcode for China); as well as a surprisingly more Obama-like campaign to further the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

See at: https://bit.ly/3kQ5URY

 

International

 

Week in Review: The Possible and the Impossible (Balkan Insight)

As strange new alliances are forged both within countries and across the region, many analysts wonder where the limits of the possible and impossible lie.

Testing Elections

Romanians will go to the polls this Sunday to elect new local governments across the country. In most races, incumbent mayors seem to be favourites for re-election. The capital, however, is a different story, where opposition candidate Nicosur Dan is threatening to topple incumbent Gabriela Firea of the PSD, the former national ruling party.

All of this would perhaps be just a matter of local politics if it were not for the fact that the country will hold Parliamentary elections in December. The local elections are thus a bell-weather for the national elections in December. The loss of Bucharest would be a big blow to the PSD’s hopes of returning to power. By the same token, taking the capital would boost the chances of the currently ruling parties to remain in power. We examine in more detail.

The (Im)Possible

Montenegro is still digesting the consequences of the defeat of the DPS in the August 30 Parliamentary elections and the likely ascent of the opposition to power. Paradoxically, while most opposition supporters are hoping for radical discontinuity with the era of DPS rule, many DPS supporters are using scaremongering tactics centred precisely on the idea that the opposition will impose discontinuity even where many Montenegrins would not like to see it.

Amidst the sea of inflated expectations and scaremongering, our factcheck takes a look at what the opposition can and cannot do once in power. Could a new government de-recognize Kosovo? Could they change the national symbols? And what about relations with Russia. Find out.

See at: https://bit.ly/3kN47gJ

Adam Boehler On New Era Of Serbia-US Relations (The Pavlovic Today)

DFC’s CEO Adam Boehler sits down with Ksenija Pavlovic Mcateer for an exclusive interview, providing insight on DFC’s historic undertaking and the inner-workings of the Serbia-Kosovo Agreement. He explains how Richard Grenell and President Trump applied an unconventional approach to a deadlocked issue, garnering success and prosperity for Serbs and Kosovo’s Albanians alike.  

Adam Boehler did not come to Serbia alone. The DFC’s CEO came with five U.S. agencies determined to move the historic Serbia-Kosovo Agreement forward, which has, in many ways, proved itself groundbreaking in the two weeks since its enactment at the White House.

It’s one of those things where history writes itself in real-time, and fast, inviting a journalist to do an interview with history.

Boehler’s visit to Belgrade was part of a larger trip the US Government (USG) undertook from Athens and Jerusalem to Belgrade and Pristina, demonstrating US commitment over a broad region.

See more at: https://bit.ly/307gDQk

Undermining EU enlargement: The destructive effects of state capture in the Wester Balkans (N1, clingendael.org)

This Clingendael Policy Brief analyses the destructive effects of state capture in the Western Balkans and how it undermines the EU enlargement process. Using the case of Serbia, this Policy Brief shows how state capture mechanisms selectively strengthen the ruling party and its leadership while it weakens the opposition and independent institutions. State capture weakens the effectiveness of EU conditionality and reduces the credibility of the EU enlargement process. Tackling state capture, through strengthening accountability structures and increasing transparency, is identified as a key priority for the EU enlargement process to be successful in the future.

See at: https://bit.ly/2G9ZlL0

Hague Prosecutors Publish Kosovo Guerrilla’s War Crimes Indictment (Balkan Insight)

After making its first arrest, the Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office published the indictment charging former Kosovo Liberation Army officer Salih Mustafa with war crimes including torture and murder.

Several hours after arresting wartime KLA officer Salih Mustafa on Thursday, Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office released the indictment charging him with committing “war crimes under international law” during the conflict in Kosovo in 1999.

The indictment of Mustafa, who is now an official at Kosovo’s Defence Ministry, charges him with the “arbitrary detention… cruel treatment… torture… and murder” of civilians between “approximately 1 April 1999 and around the end of April 1999”.

It accuses Mustafa, known in wartime as Commander Cali, of being part of a joint criminal enterprise “certain other KLA soldiers, police, and guards”, which had a “shared common purpose to interrogate and mistreat detainees”.

At the time of the alleged crimes, Mustafa was the officer of the KLA’s BIA Unit, which consisting of 500-600 fighters and “operated predominantly in and around large urban areas, such as Pristina and Obiliq/Obilic, and in the Gollak/Goljak region, which includes the village of Zllash/Zlas”, where the detention compound in which the victims were held was located, the indictment claims.

It says the victims “were persons taking no active part in hostilities”.

See at: https://bit.ly/2GbQ1Gt

Ex-army leader is first suspect arrested by Kosovo war crimes tribunal (The Guardian)

Salih Mustafa oversaw Kosovo Liberation Army fighters in Llapi region during 1998-99 war

An international tribunal investigating war crimes committed during Kosovo’s 1998-99 independence war has arrested its first suspect, a former commander of separatist fighters.

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers, based in The Hague, said the former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) commander Salih Mustafa was arrested based on a “warrant, transfer order and confirmed indictment issued by a pre-trial judge”. The court’s statement did not identify the charges on which he was indicted.

See at:https://bit.ly/366o1Pv

PM’s Welcome For ‘Lake Trump’ Proposal Baffles Kosovo Officials (Balkan Insight)

Prime Minister Hoti’s backing for a proposal to rename a disputed lake in Kosovo after Donald Trump has confused many of his own officials – who say they were not aware of any such decision.

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti has welcomed a proposal to rename a disputed lake in the country “Lake Trump” in honour of the US President – who recently presided over an economic normalization deal in Washington between Kosovo and Serbia.

On Thursday, Hoti wrote on Twitter that the US special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Richard Grenell, had proposed that Lake Ujman [in Albanian], or Lake Gazivoda [in Serbian] be renamed after Donald Trump in honour of his “role in reaching a historic economic normalization agreement between” Kosovo and Serbia in September. “I welcomed Amb Grenell’s proposal,” Hoti tweeted.

However, the decision to rename the lake after President Trump has left Kosovo officials surprised, as they were unaware of the legal procedures on such name changes.

See at: https://bit.ly/2HvX5yC

 

 

Humanitarian/Development

 

Gracanica municipality donates computers, UNMIK tablet devices to primary and secondary schools (Radio kontakt plus)

Gracanica municipality donated to primary and secondary schools within its territory 27 computers for digitalization of their work, while UNMIK donated 30 tablet devices to students of poorer financial status for attending the lessons online, Radio kontakt plus reports.

Gracanica Mayor Srdjan Popovic handed over computers to the primary schools in Laplje Selo and Donja Gusterica, along with the municipal director of education and culture, Brankica Nikic.

Popovic and Nicic said the local self-government continues to improve the working conditions in the schools.

“We will not stop in improving the working conditions of all education institutions in the territory of our municipality. We wish the best conditions for our students and teachers. We have provided 27 computers that would be of major help to digitalize the work of the schools. With this aim we also cooperate with the organizations, and successful cooperation with the UN contributed that we have received 30 tablets for the students unable to afford them, and would help them attend the lessons online”, Popovic said.

Schools’ directors from Laplje Selo and Donja Gusterica, Ljubisa Karadzic and Dragan Maksimovic noted that the donation would make the work of the schools easier and expressed gratitude on behalf of the students who have received tablet devices.

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UNMIK Media Observer, Afternoon Edition, October 30, 2020

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